Posts Tagged library commons

Education is Changing – Libraries Enhance Learning Support

Library buildings can be designed to enhance learning support and research. Librarians can support the workflow of their researchers by directly supporting, managing and aggregating the content. These days there are plenty of librarians preaching community, but what about how we can design libraries to enhance the digital world?

Libraries are places where solutions are possible through access to knowledge and higher education. Planning learning environments requires us to be aware of new opportunities in education technology, open-source software or open-access publishing.

According to “Open Online Courses – an avalanche that might just get stopped“- In the US, the growing chorus for online education through massive open online courses, or moocs, has been deafening.” For example, the California legislature created a bill for the “New University of California” – one that offered no instruction but would issue credentials to people merely for passing exams. Does this model assure that our students are learning in the online world?

The New University of California bill did not pass, but California lawmakers detailed a plan on May 8, 2013 to require the state’s 145 public colleges and universities to grant credit for low-cost online courses offered by outside groups, including classes offered by for-profit companies.

The bottom line is that there really is no replacement for face-to-face interaction between teachers, professors, librarians and students. Digital and online methods can enrich those interactions, but it is no match for the community of services at our Universities and Colleges provide; the community of professors, tutors, peer mentors, librarians, IT help, libraries, computers labs, disability services and academic support.

It seems unlikely that libraries and learning spaces can be replaced by online learning without considerable investment in electronic resources. No wonder 72% of those who have taught moocs over the past three years believe students who took their classes had not done sufficient work to deserve credit from their institution.

Libraries and Learning Commons can be created with clusters of valuable and distinctive services. Librarians can ensure that the learning environment, enhances the reputation of the community, faculty and the institution. Librarians will continue to ask – What services does the community need? How can their output be preserved, discovered and re-used?

You can think of the Learning Commons as an incubator. It is an “I-Lab” – a multifunctional and fluid space for learning. The photo below is a visualization board that is at the Mathematics Museum in New York. It is an example of a physical environment that will support online learning technologies.

http://momath.org/

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Learning Circle – Library as an Incubator for Online Learning

The library is no place to dream small. It is an incubator that when heated at the right tempature evolves into a place for education in the 21st century. The “Library as place” where a new concept for online learning is emerging; the barriers to education are being lowered. The library is a universal place that lets learning grow.

Libraries exist not just to lend books but to guarantee their continuous availability of access to information. In “Digital Education“- MIT technology Review January/February 2013 stated – “The highest ambition of any society is to educate its citizens.” Indeed, a simple group circle or shape speeds up our ability to perceive the learning space, and without realizing it, we are more productive.

In NYTimes Article “Why We Love Beautiful Things,” German Researchers’ found that just glancing at shades of green can boost creativity and motivation. However, we know people see things differently. To get it right, Professor Sanjay Sarma at MIT will serve as a convener and synthesizer to develop and integrate elements of online education into traditional MIT courses. It will be his job to create shades of green for students to get the most out of their education.

For example, the library of the future is an incubator: When you enter a flexible learning place—Enter—See—Access Services–Hi ceiling—Visibility–Stand-up-table–Tools—Screens—Screens on the edges.

The Consultation Bar is in the rear—Tutoring—Workshops—Mentoring–Peer Learning—-Touch points—One too one—-a place for flexible learning—Web browser—To view video—Questions to be
answered—Homework—Forums.

The model is a series of circles—each circle is a learning circle a place flexible learning—–start programming.

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Library Learning Commons – People Tools

The library is a place that enables different types of learning opportunities. The idea that the learning environment is just about books or computers does not tell the complete story. There are many opportunities to gain knowledge in a library as well as in a formal learning space (classroom). However, the smart phones, laptops and e-book readers are changing the way we interact in our learning space. Our social environment is part of the digital continuum too, creating opportunities for library patrons to use “people tools” = applications + hardware + content.

The ability to communicate with smart boards is a strategy to improve the learning space. The future learning environment will include “people tools” to support the curriculum, formal or informal training programs and/or personal research. The opportunity to share with smart technology enables library patrons to experiment with technology, expanding the users ability to research the subject.

The Smart Technology Learning Commons is an example that gives librarians and libraries an advantage over a home or mobile connection. They provide “people tools” for the interactions to take place. They enhance the physical and virtual spaces with additional equipment.

If you are building a Khan Academy type learning environment or a library with e-content, you will need to know how to build the technology tools to communicate. There will be spaces where the public share; where people meet and collaborate on projects.

According to Today’s Public Libraries: Public Places of Excellence, Education and Innovation

“Despite the Internet, it seems, libraries persist—and even thrive. Given the wealth of information and reading material at our fingertips at all times, it’s fair to ask: why should that be? Why do people still want—and need—public libraries? There are many reasons, but the most important have to do with a couple of ideas that might sound archaic to modern ears, perhaps because in reality what they are is enduring.

  • The first is the notion of place, a thing the Internet was supposed to have obliterated. Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the digital future: place kept mattering. It turns out that people often need somewhere to go, especially people who aren’t affluent enough to live in big houses.
  • The second reason libraries persist is the notion of improvement, something that has been an article of faith among librarians and their civic backers for as long as there have been libraries in this country. We Americans were early proponents of universal education and individual initiative, and we long ago recognized the importance of giving people a chance to make their lives better by gaining knowledge and cultivating their minds—in other words, improving themselves both materially and intellectually. It’s an idea redolent of Ben Franklin and Samuel Smiles, Horatio Alger and even Dale Carnegie.”
  • Let’s improve library environments to make them more effective. The nine reasons for a library gives you some strategies to discuss, build and share.

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    The Evolving Learning Commons for Libraries

    The learning commons is a part of the academic environment that supports peer/group learning activities. There are different resources to review in order to develop the approach that best suites your library or learning environment. For example, the learning tool kit developed a set of guiding principles that will help you start:

      • Refer to expert studies. There are lots of existing experimental studies and publications out there that academic practitioners have pilot-studied. It’s good to review pre-existing materials as a starting point. (i.e. ELI etc).
      • Explore what activities need to be supported, by reviewing the research you’ve conducted in the assessment phase (interviews, surveys etc).
      • Devise an integrated space concept model that includes necessary technology and equipment as well as the furnishing parameters that supports the activity in mind. At this stage, the details can be vague.
      • Outline the environmental qualities neccessary to support the activities within the space or increase the comfort level of the users – lighting (natural and artificial), acoustics, and thermal comfort.
      • Think about the critical sight lines and proportions/scales that can influence the performance of the space type.
      • Define the stimulation factors of the space. Why would students be interested to be here set aside the function of the space? Cool furnishing? coffee availability? being able to see outside and have access to natural light?
      • Determine the flexibility of the space, and specify the critical factors that make it happen (walls, partitions, furnishings etc).
      • Ensure that collaboration is enabled through necessary support services, space and technology supported in the space. Not just being able to collaborate, but to develop, capture and present and share the ideas.

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