ivyI was looking at John Traxler’s book- ‘ Mobile learning a handbook for educators and trainers.’ As a senior manager, obviously looking at the chapter on ‘ institutional issues’.

In that section John suggests that a commitment to mobile learning might lead an institution to ‘reassess the nature and extent of its physical estate’. He suggests we should ask ‘What is the nature of our core business, what is our role in the campus and community? And, in a time where learning is available anytime, any where,

what is the role of academic buildings, libraries, lectures and face to face teaching?

These are philosophical questions. Time and space….Good questions, worth having a good think about, particularly when your estate is so very integral to the essence of your university. At  conferences about mobile learning I like to talk about place. The University of Oxford is defined by a very strong sense of place. How do we know this?

We know this because people keep writing books and poems about it. The physical environment, the buildings, the quads, the river… And it does shape the nature of the core business, the learning…

WB Yeats said: ‘I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all like an opera.’ Living and working in a film set,  makes you think a lot about the built environment.

There is a sense of place, everywhere and nowhere,  In Oxford if you ask ‘where is the university?’  you will find no front gate, no central reception. But you will find clear patterns in the architecture: 4 sided shapes, quads, staircases and studies, an architectural learner management system. Never mind your VLE, this is a physical environment designed to facilitate and  manage learning. Keeping students and tutors together in one place, to study , in private and in groups, with complex access permissions and tracking tools….

For those of you aware of recent court battles in learning technology world , I’ d suggest that this might be an example of the prior art?…

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