Day 6 (of 185) starting a learning commons
Being at a K-8 school is allowing us to start some different thinking. Being a librarian, I was very happy that my older students really liked some of the pre-thinking of a learning commons….and the mindset is important as our physical setup is not the most ideal….yet…!
A learning commons can be a powerful environment. Some go to great lengths to enhance the physical space. But when this isn’t possible, a redefinition of “space” can go a long way!
What is a Learning Commons? Learning commons, also known as scholars’ commons, information commons or digital commons, are learning spaces, similar to libraries and classrooms that share space for information technology, remote or online education, tutoring, collaboration, content creation, meetings and reading or study.
It’s an expansion of the traditional role of library and librarian. No longer just a storehouse of information, but a starting point to launch into a myriad of learning approaches. It may be research…but might be distance learning….could even be self directed.
And space does matter. Some need quiet, some will need space to work collaboratively (aka loud). I know in the past my use of music in the library has gotten me some interesting looks. But I try to create different spaces where there can be quiet….but not everywhere. That’s part of the learning commons mindset – the right space for each learner.
It’s why many encourage a pleasant environment. Windows are good…natural light is always a positive. Mobile tech is key – desktops are anchors to a time in the past where the tech was expensive and cumbersome. And now I love it when I see a group of students huddled around a mobile device/tablet conspiring on a learning challenge.
The other change is around ‘availability’. In my rural school, previously the librarian was here for a half day….or day ever week or so. As principal-librarian I am in the building each day….so…..I can have a common space open frequently. Especially for the middle-years students. A separate place to work on class work (but in a different space…that’s the self-regulation part of me). A place where they can collaborate….maybe even chat and get off topic (good memories of school come from some of those social engagements). A place where they can explore owning their own learning (the SOLE and #geniushour emphasis of my Project Based Learning side).
We may not get a fancy update or upgrade…..but sometimes the space is what you make of it. I planted the seed with students today….and they really liked a lot of the ideas (especially when they asked about worksheets and I kinda chuckled at them….) I’m looking forward to seeing where we can take this!