Could we use artificial intelligence to help manage learning spaces and improve teaching and learning?

Classroom by James Clay CC BY NC 2.0

Learners and staff often have problems with inappropriate or restrictive learning spaces, or problematic environments that are impacting on the learning. If you have ever tried to undertake group work in a raked lecture theatre, you will know the sort of thing I am talking about. Or listening to a rather dry subject

We probably all want to ensure that the formal environments in which our learners learn are the most appropriate and effective. So the problem people face is how can they use spaces effectively and could the timetable and scheduling provide a more efficient way of managing spaces.

I was interested to see how people felt about the use of Artificial Intelligence in supporting people in institutions to manage spaces better and be better informed on the environmental issues so could make better choices about what learning activities to undertake in that space.

So on the Twitter I asked the following question and used a poll to gauge responses.


So with 34 responses the completely unscientific results show that 56% were positive about the subject, and 44% were not.

You can see some of the textual responses to the poll in this Storify of Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Summarising the responses the consensus was, would this even work, or was it even possible.

The reason for asking the question relates to one of the six Co-design challenges Jisc is currently running, which is the intelligent campus.

The internet of things makes it possible for us to gather real-time data about the environment and usage of our campuses.

It is easy to imagine using this data to ensure our rooms and facilities are managed effectively, but could we go further and monitor environmental conditions in learning spaces or even, using facial recognition software, student reactions during learning so that we can continually refine the learning experience?

Could we have a timetabling system that learnt from people and experiences about what worked well, and would be even better if? There would be issues in getting people to the right place the right time. However if the issue is about improving learning, surely the right learning in the right space is more important? Yes we know this can be done manually, using whiteboards in hospitals as one person on Twitter noted, but imagine if we could have a timetabling system that learnt and provided insights to academic staff allowing them to make informed decisions about where, what and when the learning will happen.

Though I do note the following tweet from David Hopkins.

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