Thursday, March 10, 2016

You can call any space a Learning Commons, but is it just the OLD Library?

Did you know that Alberta Education only has 9 policies? One of which is the Learning Commons Policy that was just recently passed in May 2014. The policy states that school authorities must ensure that students have access to a Learning Commons.

So, the question then is What is a Learning Commons exactly? Most people have heard the answer that it is “a philosophy, not an actual place”...but that can still be a pretty vague answer.

Here is my attempt at a short-ish, less-vague answer: A Learning Commons is the OLD library but it houses an INSTRUCTIONAL  PROGRAM  that supports students and teachers. It is more than just a book exchange place or a resource place. It is a happening-actioning-teaching place.  This is hard for most people to imagine...probably because most of us have not experienced a flourishing, supportive library program.

Simply redecorating a space or buying new furniture does not make a learning commons. Learning commons is achieved through people and programming.  What is particularly interesting about a Learning Commons is that each school’s Learning Commons can be designed to support that particular school’s student population. So there is no one-size-fits-all solution here...except to say that a Learning Commons is about the people: the people who work in the commons and the people who use the commons. It is a school-wide global support. 

What school goal do your staff and students need some support with? Integrating technology? Building literacy skills? Robotics? Design thinking or other makerspace types of things? No matter what your answer, your school’s Learning Commons could be (should be?) part of the answer.

If you're interesting in learning more about Learning Commons, you may enjoy a few of the links below, or feel free to give me a call.

  • Manifesto for 21st Century Librarians This was written by super (library-world) famous Joyce Valenza back in 2010!. But is still relevant and might give you a sense of what it is that a teacher-librarian/Learning Commons Facilitator does.

Just FYI, a blog post on Makerspaces (one possible part of a Learning Commons) is coming soon!

Note: Slides were mashed up from an ERLC presentation and used with permission.

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