The UK Higher Education Learning Space Toolkit


The UK HE Learning Space Toolkit has been produced by SCHOMS, AUDE and ucisa to help members from all three professional bodies share best practice and work more effectively when creating learning spaces. We would like to thank the numerous colleagues from across the professional associations, and others within the wider higher education community, who have contributed to the production of this Toolkit by sharing their experiences and reviewing content. We hope this Toolkit will serve both as a practical guide and as a source of inspiration in the design of spaces that delight and motivate students, as well as they meet their functional needs.

NOW AVAILABLE: Snakes and Ladders - UK HE Learning Space Toolkit edition

Members of the Standing Conference for Heads of Media Services (SCHOMS) lead and manage a diverse set of educational, technology, media and institutional support services. They give strategic direction to support and promote excellence in teaching and learning practice through the deployment of classroom technology, AV equipment and innovation in the design of learning spaces.

AUDE, the Association of University Directors of Estates, promotes excellence in the strategic planning, management, operation and development of higher education estates and facilities.

ucisa is a membership organisation representing those responsible for delivering information management systems and technology services in universities, colleges and other institutions.

This Toolkit provides an overview of learning space design in a higher education context, from the point of view of the professional support services who play a key role in such projects.

Executive summary [PDF]

This section at a glance:
  • we consider the way in which design of physical space impacts the learning that happens in the space;
  • we identify current trends in learning and teaching practice;
  • we look at the need for a set of guiding principles to inform learning space design.

Building a new pedagogy [PDF]

This section at a glance:
  • we identify the need for learning space projects to involve a wide range of stakeholders from an early stage;
  • we discuss a model for the type of engagement a project wants to achieve;
  • we look at some techniques for gaining effective stakeholder participation.

Working in partnership [PDF]

This section at a glance:
  • we discuss the project life cycle that is particular to construction projects as opposed to general project management;
  • we look at the range of professional advisers you may need to include in your project team;
  • we point to a set of guidance and templates that you can use for all aspects of a learning space project.

Managing a learning space project [PDF]

This section at a glance:

  • we look at recognised standards for a range of aspects of learning space design: general good design practice; functional room specifications; audio/visual standards; IT standards;
  • we discuss lessons learned from previous learning space projects which form the basis for the guidance given here.

Effective learning by design  [PDF]

This section at a glance:
  • we explore the types of technology used in physical learning spaces;
  • we identify that both high-tech and low-tech solutions can aid collaborative working;
  • we look at some case studies of innovative use of technology in physical space.

Learning Technologies [PDF]

This section at a glance:
  • we look at the need for evaluation of learning space projects including the real purpose behind the evaluation what it is we are actually trying to measure;
  • we look at a range of approaches to learning space evaluation.

Evaluation [PDF]

This section at a glance:
  • we review approaches to change management and identify those that may be effective in a learning
    space project;
  • we consider the kind of changes that may be necessary to effectively manage new learning spaces in
    the longer term;
  • we look at the support both staff and students may need to make effective use of the new space.

Managing a learning space project [PDF]

This Toolkit has focused on the most common types of learning and teaching space in universities (with the exception of library and learning resource centres which have long been at the forefront of innovative learning space development and are already well documented). There are however many other areas where innovation is taking place.

What's next? [PDF]


References [PDF]

Lead author

Dr. Gill Ferrell, Lead Consultant, Aspire (Management and Innovation Consultancy for Education)

Steering Group

  • Caroline Pepper, Learning and Teaching Space Manager, Loughborough University and Simon Birkett, IT and Learning Manager, University of Staffordshire (SCHOMS)
  • Eleanor Magennis, Head of Space Planning, University of Glasgow (AUDE)
  • Anna Mathews, Head of Policy and Projects (ucisa)

The project to publish the Toolkit was managed by Anna Mathews, who also edited the publication on behalf of the steering group.

Advisors and critical friends

The steering group is grateful for the assistance received from colleagues across the sector.
In particular, we would like to thank the following individuals who were involved in early discussions about the Toolkit, or acted as critical friends during the drafting process:

Dawn Alderson, Senior Academic Tutor, Swansea University

David Alsop, Audio Visual and Digital Media Services Manager, Newcastle University

Mark Ayton, Subject Specialist, Strategy and Business Process, Jisc

Dr. Bela Arora, Senior Lecturer in Global Governance, University of South Wales

Dr. Crispin Bloomfield, IT Business Partner for Education in the Computing and Information Services, Durham University

Dr. Catherine Bovill, Senior Lecturer, Academic Development Unit, University of Glasgow

Rachel Brown, Head of Design and Space Management, University of East Anglia

Matthew Burton, Head of Accommodation and Timetabling, University of York

Andrew Burgess, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Loughborough University

Annemarie Cancienne, Senior Educational Developer, City University

Jenny Crow, E-Learning Technology Specialist, University of Glasgow

Matt Cook, Assistant Director, Infrastructure and Operations at Loughborough University (and colleagues from the UCISA Networking Group)

Caelum Davies, Student Intern, Strategic Planning, University of Glasgow

Prof. Robert Fitzgerald, INSPIRE Centre, University of Canberra

Roger Greenhalgh, Strategic IT and Organisational Leadership Advocate, Jisc

David Haylor, Property Manager, University of Westminster

Janette Hillicks, Subject Specialist, Technology to Support Enterprise, Jisc

Simon Hogg, IT Portfolio Manager, Oxford Brookes University

‎Sue Holmes, Director of Estates and Facilities Management, Oxford Brookes University (and AUDE Chair)

Steven Jones, Senior Space Management Officer, Estates and Facilities Management, University of Brighton

Dr. Esther Jubb, Principal Lecturer in Academic Development, University of Cumbria

Simon Loder, Senior Media Systems Analyst, University of Surrey

Lindsey Martin, Assistant Head, Learning, ICT and Media Technologies, Edge Hill University

David McGhie, Director of Planning and Estates, Birkbeck College

Andrew Mowle, Deputy Head of Customer Services and Facilities Manager, Information Directorate, University of York

Richard Murphy, Director of Information Systems Services, University of Essex

Barbara Nicolls, Academic Skills Development Tutor, Buckinghamshire New University

Jonathan Oakden, Network and Communications Team Manager, Loughborough University

David Parkes, Associate Director, Learning ,Technology and IT, University of Staffordshire

Dominic Pates, Educational Technologist, City University

Mark Ritchie, Deputy Director and Head of Project Services, University of Edinburgh

Pat Simons, Assistant Director, Academic Services and Resources, Queen Mary University of London

Roger Snelling, Head of Networks, University of Exeter

Dr. Fiona Strawbridge, Head of E-Learning Environments, University College London

Mark Swindlehurst, Director of Facilities, Lancaster University

David Telford, Director of Information Services, Edinburgh Napier University

Nigel Thomas, Director, Nigel Thomas Consultancy

Santanu Vasant, Educational Technologist, Learning Enhancement and Development Centre, City University

Dr Helen Vaughan, Lecturer in Physics, University of Liverpool

Julie Voce , E-Learning Services Manager, Imperial College London

Dr Graham Walton, Head of Planning and Resources, Loughborough University

Adam Warren, Senior Learning Designer, University of Southampton

Prof. Shirley Williams, School of Systems Engineering, University of Reading

Dr. Pamela Woolner, Lecturer in Education, Newcastle University

Tom Worthington, Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Research School of Computer Science, Australian National University


The steering group is also grateful for comments from the SCONUL Transformation Strategy Group.

Cover photo © Loughborough University

Acknowledgements [PDF]






The Toolkit is also available to download as a complete document as well as section by section

The UK Higher Education Learning Space Toolkit [PDF]