“Unbounded Spaces: Designing Learning Spaces With the Rights of the Learner in Mind”

Keynote Speaker: Robert Talbert

Professor of Mathematics, Grand Valley State University and
Scholar-in-Residence, Steelcase Inc.


What rights do students in our schools and universities have, not just as citizens or as human beings but as learners in an educational context? In this talk, we will explore four basic rights of the learner as proposed by Crystal Kalinec-Craig:

  • The right to be confused
  • The right to make mistakes and revise one’s thinking
  • The right to speak, listen, and be heard
  • The right to write, do, and represent what makes sense to you

Our choices of pedagogy and technology that we use in teaching can either impede or enable learners’ free exercise of these rights. And although less frequently considered, the physical learning spaces that learners inhabit can do the same. As we explore the rights of the learner, we will also examine both research and lived experiences surrounding active learning spaces, to see how the affordances of these spaces can serve as a “second teacher”, shaping student and instructor mindsets about teaching and learning and providing a space wherein learners can exercise and enjoy the rights they have.

Speaker Profile:

Robert Talbert is Professor of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan USA. He holds a B.S. degree in Mathematics from Tennessee Technological University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mathematics from Vanderbilt University. Robert received the Pew Teaching with Technology Award from GVSU in 2015 and was GVSU’s candidate for Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year in 2015.

Originally trained as a pure mathematician with a specialty in algebraic topology, Robert’s current scholarly work is in the scholarship of teaching and learning, especially active learning and flipped learning design. He is the author of “Flipped Learning: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty” published in 2017 by Stylus Publications. He is on sabbatical for the 2017-2018 academic year as a Scholar-in-Residence with Steelcase Inc., working with Steelcase Education and the Workspace Futures group on research in active learning.

Robert lives with his wife and three children in Allendale, Michigan.