Call for Abstracts - The Postdigital Spaces of Higher Education

The notion of ‘learning spaces’ in and around higher education can lead to a number of interpretations. This special issue begins from the position that the learning spaces of higher education have been deeply affected by digital technologies. In different corners of the world vast sums have recently been spent modernising and reimagining university campuses (Goodyear et al. 2018), not least in order to create teaching spaces that tap into the potentialities of digital resources and pedagogies. Through the installation of lecture capture systems in the classroom, the availability of Wi-Fi to immediately access academic content across and beyond campus, or the creation of platforms where students and staff assemble online, digital technologies have become an everyday feature in higher education. In other settings mobile technologies have been key in negotiating more informal and impromptu spaces where learning can happen. But technologies are more than a backdrop to learning, or merely networked containers of activity. Rather, digital technologies are profoundly affecting the character and conceptualisation of learning spaces and the learning activities they support. 

In taking a postdigital stance to learning spaces, we are not only acknowledging the role of technology in extending student experiences both across and beyond the campus, but we are also foregrounding people’s co-presence in multiple spaces, where the digital, material, biological and social are seen as intrinsically connected (Jandrić et al. 2018; Carvalho et al. 2016). Indeed, as data flows beyond the walls of the classroom, and digital devices become an everyday feature of our surroundings, we are seeing the emergence of hybrid learning spaces (Boys 2016; Nordquist and Lang 2015) where the distinction between the physical and networked environments become less clear-cut.

Most recently - and perhaps even more profoundly - universities’ ability to navigate the virtual realm has become of critical strategic and pedagogical importance, amid the imposed conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic. As campuses entered lockdown restrictions, digital technologies were key in enabling the rapid migration of academic activity from the physical settings of the library, laboratory and lecture theatre, to previously domestic corners where staff and students settled down to log-in and learn (Jandrić et al. 2020). Put simply, it has never been more important to have a critical understanding of the close, complex and changing relationship between digital technologies and spaces for learning activity in and around higher education.

The purpose of this special issue is therefore to critically examine the relationship between digital technologies and the learning spaces of higher education. With the aim of addressing this question from a range of cultural, global, disciplinary and thematic contexts, we use a broad definition of a learning space as any setting where learning activity takes place. We welcome theoretical and empirically-driven papers that address, but are not limited to, investigating the following themes: 

  • accessibility, technology and space
  • learning spaces on the periphery
  • informal spaces for learning in higher education
  • commercialisation and the neoliberalisation of learning space
  • surveillance and university space 
  • hybridity and transformation
  • spaces beyond the campus
  • learning space design and use 
  • sound, technology and space
  • learning space in a postdigital world.

In each case, papers should aim to make an original contribution to the way that we understand the relationship between digital technologies and the learning spaces of higher education.

Guest Editors

Lucila Carvalho (Massey University), James Lamb, Michael Gallagher, Jeremy Knox (University of Edinburgh). Please feel free to contact James Lamb ( to discuss your possible contribution.


Bayne, S., Gallagher, M. S., & Lamb, J. (2013). Being ‘at’ university: the social topologies of distance students. Higher Education, 67(5), 569-583.

Boys, J. (2016). Finding the Spaces In-Between: Learning as a Social Material Practice. In L. Carvalho, P. Goodyear, & M. de Laat (Eds.), Place-based spaces for networked learning (pp. 59-72). New York: Routledge.

Carvalho, L., Goodyear, P., & de Laat, M. (2016). Place, Space, and Networked Learning. In L. Carvalho, P. Goodyear, & M. de Laat (Eds.), Place-based spaces for networked learning (pp. 1-10). New York: Routledge.

Goodyear, P., Ellis, R. A., & Marmot, A. (2018) Learning Spaces Research: Framing Actionable Knowledge. In R. A. Ellis, & P. Goodyear (Eds.), Spaces of Teaching and Learning: Integrating Perspectives on Research and Practice (pp. 221-230). Singapore: Springer.

Gourlay, L., & Oliver, M. (2016). Students' Physical and Digital Sites of Study: Making, Marking and Breaking Boundaries. In L. Carvalho, P. Goodyear, & M. de Laat (Eds.), Place- based spaces for networked learning (pp. 73-86). New York: Routledge.

Jandrić, P., Hayes, D., Truelove, I. et al. (2020). Teaching in the Age of Covid-19. Postdigital Science and Education.

Jandrić, P., Knox, J., Besley, T., Ryberg, T., Suoranta, J., & Hayes, S. (2018). Postdigital Science and Education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 50(10), 893–899.

Nordquist, J., & Laing, A. (2015). Designing spaces for the networked learning landscape. Medical Teacher, 37(4), 337-343.

Important dates

22 January 2021 – Deadline for 700-word abstracts

26 January 2021 – Authors notified and invited to write full manuscript

14 May 2021 – Deadline for full draft manuscripts 

2 August 2021 – Deadline for reviewer feedback  

2 October 2021 – Deadline for final submission of revised articles