Technology-rich learning spaces

Recently I had the opportunity to both attend and take part in the 2nd International LAMS conference with my own presentation on School libraries for 21st century learning.

What I found particularly exciting was the opportunity to learn something about the design considerations for planning new libraries, the innovations in furniture and fittings, the re-conceptualization of learning priorities, the understanding of learning needs, and much more.

Thanks to the presentation by Maxine Brodie, Maquarie University Librarian, I have a number of very useful leads to add to my personal knowledge-base about learning and libraries in 21C.

Two of particular interest are:

  1. Scott Bennett from North America and the Library Space Planning site.
  2. Joint Information Systems Council (JISC) from the United Kingdom and their Planning and Designing Technology-Rich Learning Spaces

A wealth of information, case studies, research, photo evidence etc is available at each site. Even just trawling the JISC Flickr photos provides inspiration, before getting into more detail!

Some key questions were offered for our consideration – from Scott Bennet – which can equally be applied to school libraries as to tertiary settings since we all understand that:

Space designs that acknowledge the social dimension of . . . learning behaviors and that enable students to manage socializing in ways that are positive for learning are likely to encourage more time on task and more productive studying, and thereby yield a better return on the investment in physical learning spaces.

Question 1.

What is it about the learning that will happen in this space that compels us to build a bricks and mortar learning space rather than rely on a virtual one?

Question 2.

How might this space be designed to encourage students to spend more time studying and studying more productively?

Question 3.

For what position on the spectrum from isolated study to collaborative study should this learning space be designed?

Question 4.

How will claims to authority over knowledge be managed by the design of this space? What will this space affirm about the nature of knowledge?

Question 5.

Should this space be designed to encourage student/teacher exchanges outside the classroom?

Question 6.

How might this space enrich educational experiences?

There are many insights to these questions to be learned from the two resources, as well as from collaborative discussions about these issues amongst us all.

The key for me is the Planning Context – this context will drive the creation of new 21C Library/Resource centres.

Our facilities will

…….need to move from being collection-centred to being learner-centred

……in order to support research, learning and personal development in a new networked environment.

Bennett, S. (2007) ‘First questions for designing higher education learning spaces’ Journal of Academic Librarianship (33)1, pp. 14-26.

Photos: JISC InfoNet’s photostream

  • 2 thoughts on “Technology-rich learning spaces

    1. Designing and redesigning – challenging prospects indeed – however there are many rich resources, such as those you have begun to gather for your project Judy. Margaret’s point about the constraining effects ‘inheritance’ is a good one. However it is possible to create dynamic learning spaces within established built paramenters & these may be much larger that the footprint permitten in new education facility funding guidelines.
      In the Master of Learning Innovation (Teacher-Librarianship) at Qld University of Technology we have a core unit titled ‘Designing Spaces for Learning’ which
      focuses on educators as ‘placemakers’ ….. There are few opportunities for educators to engage with matters of space, place and design in formal coursework.

      ‘Designing Spaces for Learning’ provides opportunities for educators to make visible and to interrogate the spaces and places of learning and teaching in their contexts. The unit encourages educators to be proactive in the designing of learning spaces premised on understandings about the human dimensions of built spaces and on critical evaluation of social, cultural, technological, and pedagogical influences and responsive to the identities and needs of particular groups of learners. A problem-based approach frames the key questions for the unit:

      * In our enterprise of learning and teaching who are the learners we engage with, imagine, hope for and seek to develop?
      * What kinds of learning experiences do we value in the process of developing such learners?
      * So what kinds of learning spaces are we designing to support such learners and learning and teaching?
      * How might we go about designing ‘alive, holistic,balanced, timeless, appropriate’ spaces for learning, considerate of human dimensions and experiences (Alexander, 1977; Lawson, 2001; Groundwater-Smith, 2001)?

      Study in the unit has been a very exciting journey for many students.

    2. It is very exciting when you can set up a facility from scratch. So many of us are constrained by inheritance, especially in terms of buildings. We have just had a major refit in both campus libraries, which has led to a much better workplace for us and a more accessible learning space for our students.
      It will be important not to rest on our laurels now, but to continue to question the why of each decision that we make.
      It is quite hard to look at a familiar space through new eyes or the eyes of our clients.

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