Learning Space—An Alpine Marmot

Thanks to Wikipedia I did not need to fly to the Alps and stalk marmots for days!

Learning Spaces

When you undertake a biggish research project, such as a PhD, there will be topics that are like Alpine Marmots. You technically know they are there. You know they can randomly pop-up, unexpectedly, surprisingly, and twitch their little noses right in your face. However, these Alpine Marmot topics make only marginal appearances throughout your research project—until. Until they decide to have a big marmot party and you cannot ignore them anymore.

Learning Spaces was my Alpine Marmot

And because I never had the chance to explore it further, I am now picking up the topic where possible. Currently in my teaching planning. Museums are great learning spaces for all levels of education. It is simply a matter of how we think about them! Further, the idea is to link the physical spaces of museum and university with virtual space (VLE) via Bring your own device (BYOD).

Glasgow Museums

Scottish public museums are free for everyone, working in Glasgow I have free range of some frankly amazing museums. The closest one to our university is the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Next month I am going to work with a group of international students, who need to prepare for presentations. The issue is that the students need to address diverse audiences so they need to pay close attention to their language, according to audience.

I thought if I would just provide the ‘normal’ presentation skills workshop, with some stronger focus on English for Academic Purposes, the learning experience would probably not be strong enough to convey the more or less subtle differences in language. I also would expect the students to focus too strongly on bringing the content across at all.

So this week during lunch I went to explore the current exhibitions in the GOMA. Low and behold, they are perfect for my teaching plan. The idea is, the first hour of our morning session, the students meet me at the gallery and then are to take photos with cameras or smart-phones (BYOD). Photos should focus on language. They are going to be given some focus points:

  • Are there formulations you like/dislike most?
  • Words or phrases you do not understand?
  • Words or phrases you find interesting, intriguing, ugly, beautiful?
  • Easy phrases vs difficult phrases

The rest of the morning we have a computer lab booked. Firstly I want the students to work in our VLE and share their photos, phrases and thoughts on language. Before transitioning these reflections into the presentation workshop. In the end linking it back to their professional content.


I am using a Bring your Own Device (BYOD) approach, I would prefer if I could use social media and have the students interact, while we are in the GOMA. However, I am not sure if the international students have UK mobile phone contracts so that could become expensive. Once we are in the classroom it will be more convenient to use the VLE. Any thoughts on BYOD always welcome! 

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