Third Space Symposium

Logo for Third Space Symposium, with multicoloured circles forming a venn diagram, lines like a train network map passing through and text saying third space symposium

The term ‘Third Space’1 describes people working across and between the boundaries of traditional academic and professional roles in tertiary education.

Who works in the Third Space?

Third Space Practitioners include learning designers, educational technologists, academic developers and many other people in roles with similar titles.2 Other people in the Third Space include workers in tertiary education who are developing the academic and language skills of students, research assistants and technicians, library staff and a wide array of other workers straddling these worlds.

While these roles have existed for more than 70 years, in many different forms, their value to their organisation and to the sector is often misunderstood, reducing these workers’ ability to effect meaningful change. Career progression, contracts and working conditions can be unstable or limited. The skills and knowledge that Third Space practitioners in professional roles bring may be questioned, and they are often blocked from contributing to research in their fields of expertise.

The Third Space Symposium and Slowposium aims to shine a light on the valuable contributions that Third Space practitioners make, examine the ways that we work together and consolidate practical actions to raise our impact and working conditions in tertiary education.

Third Space Slowposium,
Friday 15th to Sat 30th November 2024 –Online

This global asynchronous, online event will focus on people working in all areas of tertiary education Third Space, developing our understanding of all contexts. Participants will engage with an array of online resources informing discussion, debate and collaboration around the many factors which shape Third Space work.

Third Space Symposium,
Sunday 1st December 2024 – Uni of Melbourne, Australia

This face-to-face event will be held the day before the start of the 2024 ASCILITE conference at the University of Melbourne, focusing on the Third Space practitioners who enable teaching as academic developers, learning designers, educational technologists, and related roles. These Third Space practitioners can hold professional or academic positions, and their work frequently involves elements from both, making vital contributions to staff and student experience in higher education including:

  • building the capabilities of the academic workforce in learning and teaching
  • contributing to curriculum design
  • designing and developing learning activities, resources and courses
  • evaluating, implementing and supporting educational technologies
  • advising educators and the institution about technology-enhanced learning and teaching

The morning will showcase participants’ experiences, research and ideas about working in the Third Space and the afternoon will be dedicated to actively working on ways to advance the standing, skills and conditions of Third Space practitioners.

Third Space Symposium
Suggested Themes

Roles and relationships

  • What are third space roles and what do they do?
  • What are our professional and ethical values?
  • How can we expand understanding and valuing of these roles?
  • How do Third Space practitioners work together? Within and across teams, between central and faculty, between roles, with academics and leaders, with other stakeholders?
  • How can we work together better?

Contributions of Third Space practitioners

  • Third space practitioners in research
  • Innovation in learning and teaching
  • Ability to participate in the wider L&T Third Space community

Wellbeing and working conditions for Third Space practitioners

  • Self-care and avoiding burnout
  • Creating a supportive community
  • Working with organisational structures and change
  1. Whitchurch, C. (2008). Shifting identities and blurring boundaries: The emergence of Third Space Professionals in UK Higher Education. Higher Education Quarterly, 62(4), 377–396. ↩︎
  2. Mitchell, K., Simpson, C., & Adachi, C. (2017). What’s in a name? The ambiguity and complexity of technology enhanced learning roles – ASCILITE 2017. In H. Partridge, K. Davis, & J. Thomas (Eds.), Me, Us, IT! Proceedings ASCILITE 2017: 34th International Conference of Innovation, Practice and Research in the use of Educational Technologies in Tertiary Education (p. 449). ASCILITE. ↩︎

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.