ADP supports new thinking in teaching and learning spaces


By Jon Roylance

Spaces that are conducive to interactive, activity-based learning are a growing trend in higher education. This is reflected in ADP’s delivery of several collaborative teaching and learning spaces at Heriot-Watt University, Newman University and the University of Liverpool, all handed-over in the autumn this year.

Understanding Flipped and Active Learning

Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach now commonly adopted on a university campus, whereby the conventional notion of classroom-based learning is inverted. Instead of being introduced to a topic in class, students are introduced to the learning material before the teaching session. Tutorial time can then be used to deepen understanding through discussion with peers and problem-solving activities, which are facilitated by the educator.

Direct instruction moves away from the group learning space to the individual (virtual) learning space, and the resulting group space (seminar, tutorial, collaborative lecture theatre, learning commons) is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment. Here the educator guides the students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.

Flipped and Active Learning allows for a variety of learning modes; educators are encouraged to physically rearrange their learning spaces to accommodate a teaching session, to support either group work or independent study. The modern campus now offers a range of flexible spaces in which students can choose when and where they learn. This is governed by an agreed individual learning pathway through an initiative called ‘blended learning’. Educators who ‘flip’ their classes are flexible in their expectations of student timelines and assessments, which is based on their individual blended learning pathways.

In the traditional tutor-centred model, the educator is the primary source of information. By contrast, the Flipped Learning model deliberately shifts instruction to a learner-centred approach, where tutorial/seminar time is dedicated to exploring topics in greater depth, and creating rich learning opportunities. As a result, students are actively involved in knowledge construction as they participate in and evaluate their learning in a manner that is personally meaningful.

How Flipped and Active Learning is incorporated into our designs

Flipped learning transforms the group space (seminar, tutorial, collaborative lecture theatre, learning commons) in the following ways:
  • Configurable: Work tables and seating can be arranged spontaneously to suit different group sizes. Flexible furniture can be used to allow for small group work, but scales to   bigger groups and a full teaching cohort. Wall-mounted whiteboards accessible to all students, can be used to display content on all walls to support multiple groups.  

    AV/IT enriched spaces can be created with, VR, easy plug-in, interactive, wifi-enabled, multi-channelled technology. Multiple flat-panel display projection systems, interactive whiteboards and screens can be added to all walls.

    Democratic and collaborative: Barrier-free communication. A central tutor station allows the educator to display work of specific student groups. This enables visual and physical access for students and educators.

    Empathy-based: Empathy zones can be created through the arrangement of the space, based on learning attainment level and emotional learning state of each student in real time.

    Bright open spaces that avoid glare, can be seamlessly connected throughout a building.

ADP’s recent delivery of active learning spaces at Heriot-Watt University.

Following the successful delivery of the Learning Commons at Heriot- Watt University, we have recently completed a 175-seat social learning drop-in space, a 212-seat collaborative lecture theatre, and a 465-seat lecture theatre that can be quickly configured into a practical flat floor teaching space utilising retractable lecture theatre seating.

University of Liverpool. We have delivered a series of tutorial rooms, seminar rooms, and a 72-seat collaborative small lecture theatre.

Newman University. We have delivered a new collaborative lecture theatre as part of the new teaching and learning centre.





Jon Roylance

Jon Roylance

Jon joined our practice in 1996, opening our Manchester studio in 2007 with
director Joe Morgan. Jon
leads our higher education
sector team.