Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer
University of the Arts London

Home sweet home: achieving belonging and engagement in online learning spaces


In October 2021, Lee Leewis and Stacey Leigh Ross started a conversation about Ross’ creation and delivery of online teaching to forty-five Year 2 BA Design Management students on the Design Management and Change (DMC) unit at London College of Communication (LCC). This discussion would last all term and lead to a theory of teaching in virtual environments that combines elements of place-making and self-determination theory. In the article below, the authors recount the development of that theory and how it manifested in a wildly popular Miro board. They contend that a connection to ‘place’ and the people within it is key to understanding what makes some virtual environments flourish more than others. As the dialogue unfolds, the authors speculate that successful virtual learning environments are spaces which encourage connection, co-creation and shared ownership.


Author Biography

Stacey Leigh Ross

Stacey Leigh Ross is an Associate Lecturer and doctoral researcher at LCC. She has an MA in Applied Imagination and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Stacey’s pedagogy centres play, curiosity, critical thinking and inclusive practice. Her PhD is entitled, ‘Carnival of Compassion: How can the euphoric “instant community” feeling inherent in Caribbean carnivals be recreated in an art intervention to predispose its participants to compassionate action?’. Stacey’s research with Lee advances her practice and research into virtual learning spaces, essential for effective post-lockdown teaching, and for any online engagement with her practice-PhD.

Lee Leewis

Lee Leewis is the Senior Digital Learning Coordinator at LCC. He has an MA in Educational Technology from University College London, where he studied machine learning systems that support self-regulated learning. His interest in this paper’s subject stems from his research on using digital platforms to enhance learning autonomy and engagement.