Finding the open in the in-between: changing culture and space in higher education

Myself and Kathrine Jensen are presenting at #OER16 (Tue, Apr 19 2016, 2:00pm – 3:30pm) in a couple of weeks time. There’s a lot to cover in the time we have allocated. I thought it would be useful to share some of the key ideas.

Here’s a link to a webinar we ran in the “Inbetween Spaces for Learning” and here’s a post from Kathrine that reflects a discussion with Catherine Cronin.

First, here’s our abstract. I will make further postings, as will Kathrine, in the lead up to the conference.

Abstract – This paper reports on the proposition that “the richest space of all is the in-between space” and connects thinking on liminality (Shortt, 2015), hybridity (Goodwin, Kennedy & Vetere, 2009), Third Space (Bhabha, 2004), and non-formal learning (Eraut, 2000). The challenge of the open is cultural. Ultimately learning happens how and where the learner decides, epitomising the notion of ‘remix’ (Wiley, 2014) and the other ‘4Rs’ that frame open education. We draw upon a series of self-determined non-formal initiatives that critically examine and seek to develop the relationship between binaries such as formal and informal, teacher and learner, physical and virtual, open and closed to reveal a liminal learner-centred world. Here the learner is already open and is faced with constraints that are remnants of a previous academic tradition. We demonstrate the inadequacy of binaries and polarities in the way we, as academics and as higher education institutions, talk about how students learn and teachers teach, and we make strong connections to the rhetoric and principles of open learning.


Bhabha, H. (2004). The location of culture.  New York: Routledge.

Eraut, M. (2000). Non-formal learning and tacit knowledge in professional work. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, pp. 113 – 136.

Goodwin, K., Kennedy, G., & Vetere, F. (2009). Exploring co-location in physical, virtual and ‘hybrid’ spaces for the support of informal learning. ASCILITE 2009 “Sa,ed places, different spaces”, Auckland

Harriet Shortt (2015) Liminality, space and the importance of ‘transitory dwelling places’ at work. Human Relations, April 2015, 68(4), pp. 633-658

Wiley, D. (2014) ‘The Access Compromise and the 5th R’. [online] Available at:

About Andrew Middleton

NTF, PFHEA, committed to active learning, co-operative pedagogies, media-enhanced teaching and learning, authentic learning, postdigital learning spaces. Key publication: Middleton, A. (2018). Reimagining Spaces for Learning in Higher Education. Palgrave.
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2 Responses to Finding the open in the in-between: changing culture and space in higher education

  1. Pingback: If open is the answer… | Tactile

  2. Pingback: Divergent innovation and notions of openness | Tactile

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