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For full information about the background and context for this this series on Landscapes of Learning for Unknown Futures: Prospects for Space in Higher Education please click here.


It has never been more important to have a critical understanding of the complex association(s) between digital technologies and spaces in and around higher education (HE). Change and emerging innovation in educational technology is shifting expectations, practices, and discourse around how learning is situated in space and time, extending the locus of student learning experiences both across and beyond the physical campus. The purpose of this three-part Symposia Series is to provoke a critical examination of the changing relationship(s) between digital technologies and learning space, and an exploration of the possibilities for new configurations of learning activities and interactions. The intention is to move beyond totalising critiques of HE learning spaces, and instead consider places for learning according to the level of complexity and depth that they exhibit and the neoteric topologies of connection, social meaning, and practice that they promote. In a networked world, the links between cooperative action and spatial proximity have been broken. The concept of learning landscape is offered as a way of exploring the range of learning spaces that are needed to better align with changing patterns of learning and increasing proliferation of digital technologies. We are yet to properly conceptualise this emerging, pluralised, learning landscape in terms of the relationship between pedagogy, technology, and nascent configurations of learning spaces and environments.

In response, this Symposia Series brings together and engages key stakeholders in a timely discussion and debate to support new thinking in decision-making, policy, and practice as we consider the promise of future landscapes of learning in HE through the prism of three thematic lenses: networks, assemblages, and flexibilities. Each of these lenses represents the conceptual focus for a Symposium with the aim of providing designated space and scope for interrogating a range of theoretical and applied interpretations and perspectives, and generating collaborative, reflexive discussions, and debate.

Symposium 3: Assemblages

The third Symposium examines the expanding spectra of both learning spaces (including their architecture and materiality) and the pedagogical approaches that are being adopted within them. These discussions are presented against the backdrop of challenges presented by traditional decision-making around strategic long-term estates-planning, resource implications, and the need to act swiftly to meet the challenges presented by a dynamic HE environment.



11:00 – 11:15

Welcome & introductions

11:15 – 12:15


Professor Carol Taylor (University of Bath)

Posthuman pedagogic assemblages: Reconceptualising how objects, bodies, materialities, affects and spaces come to matter in higher education landscapes of learning

Including Q&A from remote participants

12:15 – 13:15

3 x 15-minute lead presentations:

  • A/Prof Tim Fawns (Monash University)

Mutually navigating the messy, postdigital spaces of education: entangled design, practice, and knowledge

  • A/Prof Karen Gravett (University of Surrey)

Assemblages of belonging in the digital university

  • Dr Harriet Shortt (UWE, Bristol)

Picturing Places for Learning – how photographs tell stories about where learning happens

13:15 – 14:00  


14:00 – 15:00  

Panel discussion (keynote and lead presenters)

15:00 – 15:30

Closing comments & event close


Presentation abstracts & speaker information

Posthuman pedagogic assemblages: Reconceptualising how objects, bodies, materialities, affects and spaces come to matter in higher education landscapes of learning

Carol Taylor, University of Bath: click here for speaker bio

Feminist materialisms/critical posthumans offer a new conceptual understanding for thinking – and bringing into being – new higher education futures. Their critiques of White, Western colonialist ‘progress’ imperatives, of human exceptionalism, of the anthropocentric, ecological devastation and species extinction it has inaugurated, and their call to value other non-extractive modes of knowledge production, presents a profound challenge to contemporary higher education. Drawing on the work of Deleuze & Guattari (1987), Manning (2016) and Buchanan (2021), this paper focuses on posthuman pedagogic assemblages to argue the need to pay new attention in profoundly changed (and not yet post-) pandemic times to the entangled, productive, and ever-mutating configurations – assemblages – of objects, bodies, spaces, materialities and affects and how they come to matter in contemporary higher education. I discuss how thinking via assemblages opens the way to a radical reconceptualization of the learner-as-assemblage, of pedagogy as a spatial-material praxis of becoming-relational, and of the analytic value of transdisciplinary theoretical assemblages in the creation of new knowledge of and for HE landscapes of learning. 


Mutually navigating the messy, postdigital spaces of education: entangled design, practice, and knowledge.

Tim Fawns, Monash University: click here for speaker bio

How can we think about the role of technology within dynamic and complex educational landscapes? Regardless of modality (e.g., “on camps”, “online”, “hybrid”), there are many learning spaces that I characterise as postdigital and entangled. Each space has fuzzy borders, through which learning leaks out and in, and each offers different meaning depending on what is happening. Many are hybrid: study and bedroom; physical and digital; public and private. Technology is inevitable, multiple, and relational. (How) should educators and institutions seek to influence happenings across these learning spaces? Should we stay in our own designated spaces (e.g., VLE’s and classrooms)? Can we help students navigate their spaces, while leaving space for them to do things their way? Drawing on ideas from postdigital and entangled pedagogy, I discuss some messy questions for design, practice, policy, infrastructure, and relational knowledge and expertise across different institutional levels.


Assemblages of belonging in the digital university

Karen Gravett, University of Surrey: click here for speaker bio

In this presentation, I share some of my current research examining student engagement, belonging and mattering in higher education. My research considers: what do students’ day-to-day connections with the digital university look like? And how can we use theory to focus more sharply on materiality in higher education, as a means to pay greater attention to the question: who and what matters to students’ learning? My research has found that students relate to the material campus in multiple ways. Students told us how they experience multiple belongings, and also curate their own assemblages of belonging. I examine how such enactments of space speak back to simplistic conceptions of engagement within higher education and sketch a more nuanced depiction of what it is to be a contemporary student. I conclude by thinking about ways in which we can draw upon evidence-based research to assist our work in maximising students’ potential for a diversity of students in contemporary higher education.


Picturing Places for Learning – how photographs tell stories about where learning happens

Harriet Shortt, UWE, Bristol: click here for speaker bio

In this talk, I will be exploring how visual methods can provide us with new ways of seeing and understanding spaces and places for learning. I will be drawing on a variety of research projects that have used participant-led photography as a way of investigating user experiences of buildings and the materiality of work. In particular, I will be presenting findings from a research project that studied the post-occupancy of a new Higher Education building, where we asked questions such as: how does a transparent, collaborative, and flexible building affect working and studying practices? What influence does it have on users’ perceptions of the University and is the building operating as predicted? Findings from this research point towards matters concerning power, privacy, and personalisation, and specifically how users of the building seek refuge in corners, nooks, and crannies, and how these rather unorthodox hiding places take on a den-like quality, providing sites for learning, reflection, and seclusion.

A recording of this session can be accessed by clicking herePasscode: XhJ^a7E1

September 13th, 2023 from 11:00 AM to  3:30 PM
Online event - link will be provided
Resource 1 Landscapes_of_Learning_Introduction_13_09_2023.pptx
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