Learning Commons

The information, professional development, and movement coming from the Department of (Virtual Learning) and Media Services in my school system is all about the transition from Media Centers to Learning Commons.

I am in a really unique position because my school is also in the middle of a transition, so I get to combine the two things; my Media Center will be the first official Learning Commons in the school system at the start of the 2015-2016 school year. Our school building will be renovated and redesigned during the 2014-2015 school year with the new model in mind. I don’t have to do much, though I do get some say in furniture and design, but I will come in to an entirely new Learning Commons in 2015.

Buffy Hamilton, a former school librarian, recently posted about this transformation of spaces, on her blog. The VLMS department in my school system has been watching the Hunt Library at NC State closely to see what they’re doing and how it’s going.

Basically, this is a huge movement for the school library world, and I’m very excited to be a part of it. I’ve seen the plans for the new Learning Commons and can’t wait to be its leader.

But it is a big change, so I’ve been working on some things to help teachers prepare. Unfortunately, doing anything with my physical space is pretty silly given that I will be out of here at the end of this school year and everything will be totally different upon our return. I’ve been focusing on mental changes. Here are a few things I have done.

  • Got rid of the reference section and let students check out anything and everything for up to two weeks.
  • No late fees.
  • Push for using free electronic resources (like NCWiseOwl, Britannica.com, Google Scholar, etc. depending on topics).
  • Host events (World Cup Draw party, Hour of Code).
  • Push for using iPads instead of desktop computers or laptops.
  • Opened the Media Center to individual students rather than just whole classes.
  • Push for using the Media Center as a work area, even if you don’t need internet access or computers for the work.

It’s gone fairly well, but I have encountered one major issue. I was told not to send the entire staff emails, so much of my communication occurs via the Media Center website, which I’m sure no one checks regularly for anything. I’m stuck at a point where, within what I feel I can do (it’s too early in the process to have a Twitter or Facebook account for the Learning Commons), I can’t communicate things to the staff in the most effective and efficient way.