Beyond the Classroom: Active Learning in In-Between Spaces

The classroom isn’t the only place where learning occurs. This has always been true, but with Wi-Fi and portable technology bringing information and communication to even the most remote corner of campus, every space is now a potential learning space.

Lounges, hallways, and other informal spaces have all become popular places for students to work both individually and in groups. However, these types of in-between spaces often fall short in meeting student needs. Hallways commonly lack seating and worksurfaces while many lounges were designed for casual socialization and lack the privacy needed for solo studying. Inadequate access to power outlets for mobile devices is another very common issue.

To make any in-between space a learning space, consider each area in terms of control, comfort, and collaboration.

three students during a collaborative study session staying connected to technology and using a whiteboard


Since in-between spaces can serve many different purposes, it’s important to give students have a measure of control over how the space is used. Furniture that can easily be repositioned supports students whether they’re working individually, in pairs, or in larger groups. It’s also essential that students have access to resources needed to power their electronic devices. Wi-Fi is a given, but power access should be, too. Uniquely-designed charging solutions make it easy to power devices anywhere while modular lounge systems, such as our Regard lounge system, can easily be adjusted to adapt to changing needs.
woman works in lounge chair in informal office space


Being uncomfortable never made anyone more productive. Traditional soft seating and hardwood hallway chairs typically aren’t well-suited for the work being done in today’s in-between spaces. Learning involves a variety of postures and people are most comfortable (and productive) when they can move in their chairs and still have good support. Consider including a variety of seating options like stools and lounges to accommodate varying preferences.

two students collaborate on whiteboard while an individual studies solo


An issue with many in-between spaces is that they miss the mark when it comes to being functional for project work. Students need spaces that support collaborative learning both before and after class. Without things like worksurfaces for books and electronic devices, brainstorming tools like whiteboards, and methods for sharing digital and analog content, students are limited in their ability to work together.

By rethinking the design of in-between spaces, you’re not only using the space available on campus more efficiently, you’re helping foster a sense of campus community. Lounges are powerful attractors and for students to be a part of an environment that’s buzzing with the activity of other students at work can be very inspiring and drive them to produce better work themselves.

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