Launching Learning Commons!

thumb_IMG_2078_1024 As students, teachers, and all Cobb County School District employees returned to work, our Library Media Education Supervisor was hard at work finalizing the unveiling of a landmark achievement within four of our schools: Learning Commons.

A grand opening was hosted at each school for the Learning Commons spaces at Mt. Bethel Elementary School, Smitha Middle School, Daniell Middle School, and Campbell High School during the week of January 4th-8th, 2016.  A detailed account of those events was documented in this article on CobbCast, the official blog of the Cobb County School District as a whole.

What is a Learning Commons, and why is Library Media Education involved?

In the article “7 Things You Need to Know About the Modern Learning Commons,” Educause, a non-profit organization focused on enhancing digital learning in schools, sums up this new transition within one of the most important of our schools’ learning spaces:

  1.  What is it?
    • In essence, the Learning Commons is a hybrid of a library/media center and a computer lab and it serves to function as a “full-service learning, research, and project space,” within schools.
  2. How does it work?
    • Learning Commons function as a physical space as well as an instructional model.  Not only do students and teachers have access to a variety of resources with the tools and flexibility of the learning environment, but the goal is also to cultivate more student-centered interdisciplinary lessons or units of study.
  3. Who is doing it?
    • Learning Commons are not just in K-12 schools.  Many higher education institutions such as the University of Dayton and North Carolina State University employ a version of a Learning Commons environment within some of their buildings.
  4. Why is it significant?
    • Within the physical space of a Learning Commons, students, teachers, and other users have access to libraries (digital and physical), labs, learning/teaching areas, creation tools (i.e. 3-D printers and makerspaces), and comfortable seating that can be easily moved throughout the space.  Within the instructional model the Learning Commons, the space supports student exploration and barrier-free learning.  It works as an innovation space.
  5. What are the downsides?
    • The remodeling of a library or media center to become a Learning Commons does present some downsides, mainly in the realm of the inconvenience of construction upon the overall school environment along with other challenges construction can present.dec15_2015 024
  6. Where is it going?
    • According to Educause, by creating such a space for student exploration and innovation, “new and expanded partnerships across disciplines will facilitate and promote greater levels of collaboration in the learning commons.”
  7. What are the implications for teaching and learning?
    • Learning Commons are a space for more than just students, but for the entire learning community of a school.  It provides all stakeholders, primarily students and teachers, with access to tools, resources, and the space to create content connections to prepare our students to be innovators in and creators of the future.

With the launch of Learning Commons at Mt. Bethel Elementary School, Smitha Middle School, Daniell Middle School, and Campbell High School, the Cobb County School District is taking yet another step toward molding our learning environments to best support our students as they prepare for the future.

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