Lost in (open learning) space

  • Jane Kehrwald University of South Australia
  • Michael Head University of South Australia
  • Rowena Harper University of South Australia
Keywords: academic literacy, learning spaces, language and learning support


The shift in focus by higher education providers to more student-centred approaches to teaching and learning has necessitated a rethinking of learning spaces to better support such approaches. Places of learning have shifted from traditional, physical classroom or lecture spaces to virtual spaces, and increasingly to discipline and non-discipline specific learning commons or hubs. In early 2013, the University of South Australia (UniSA) launched a new open learning space (OLS) at its Mawson Lakes campus. The Language, Literacies & Learning (L3) team were tasked with utilising the OLS for the provision of academic language and learning (ALL) support to students. Drawing on institutional data, staff and student feedback, and literature on current practice in OLS from other tertiary institutions, this paper reflects critically on the principles and processes which underpinned the conceptualisation of the ALL support role within the OLS. It reveals a number of tensions between ALL practice, the L3 model and the University’s evolving conceptualization of the OLS: for example, private and personalised support in a public forum, flexibility in service delivery, space “ownership” and identity, and purpose of the space. Addressing these tensions has implications, not only for the model of ALL service provision at the Mawson Lakes campus, but also, on a much larger scale, for the new Learning Centre scheduled to be opened at the City West campus in early 2014.

Author Biographies

Jane Kehrwald, University of South Australia
Learning and Teaching Unit Language and Learning Coordinator
Michael Head, University of South Australia
Learning and Teaching Unit Language and Learning Adviser
Rowena Harper, University of South Australia
Learning and Teaching Unit Head:Language and Literacy
How to Cite
KehrwaldJ., HeadM., & HarperR. (2013). Lost in (open learning) space. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 7(2), A1-A10. Retrieved from https://journal.aall.org.au/index.php/jall/article/view/260