Research Background

Our active involvement in the Hamburg Open Online University (HOOU) over the past three years has required observation and analysis of the activities of national and international university players in order to gain inspiration and examples of best practice for our own work. Along with many motivating experiences of success, however, numerous issues and questions have arisen on which we would like to conduct further research and which we would like to systematize in an application-oriented way.

Following this first phase of developing technology, infrastructure, and learner-oriented OER content we now face the challenge of creating learning spaces for higher education institutions in which learners use or reuse, improve or invent with digital tools and technology. We are interested in the concepts, attitudes, and framework conditions that lead to innovative, creative and living learning spaces, in which learning communities are happy to share knowledge with each other and learn together.

Shaping the learning spaces faces multilayered challenges. Thinking from inside the university, a fundamental challenge is the fact that learning places and learning communities become increasingly heterogeneous and diverse the more the universities open up to problems of relevance to civil society that are discussed and dealt with outside of the university or the more the concept of lifelong learning finds its way into university teaching. These, then, are learning spaces and learning communities located beyond or at the interfaces with traditional university structures. But in order to shape innovative learning opportunities offered by universities so that extramural target groups accept them the principles for shaping learning places and for establishing learning communities beyond the bounds of universities must first be defined.

Research Process

We approach these questions by a collaborative research design, that aims to:

The process is defined in four distinct steps:

Step 1: Research Design

The research project is designed as a collaborative, visual and qualitative research project, that uses semi-structured data collections methods, such as pictures, videos, interviews or any other artefacts, to find themes and meanings to inform our understanding of open learning spaces.

Step 2: Data collection

We prepared a category on open[learning]spaces within our Forum and ask people to send us a mail to with links and pictures of their inspiring learning spaces. Hereby we would like people from anywhere, to share their stories on their favorite learning spaces.

The stories will then be integrated into the open[learning]spaces-Map on the home page of this website.

Step 3: Data analysis

Within our data analysis we adapt a social constructionist position and try to include the participants who have provided their stories to us within the data analysis process. Thus research participants include some form of narrative in order to give meaning to the images.

Step 4: Presentation of results

Insights in our research and first results will be published here on this website. Apart from this - in a physical space - we will present our main results at the Theme week of the Hochschulforum Digitalisierung: