Commons 2.0 – Where’s the Writing Room?

The latest edition of EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY (Number 4, 2007) includes an article called Commons 2.0: Library Spaces Designed for Collaborative Learning. The article is valuable because it reinforces for the higher ed community what librarians have been saying for a decade now about space planning for the library.  It talks about human-centered design and the shift towards problem-based learning. The article does a good job of defining the Information Commons of the future, outlining five guiding principles: open, free, comfortable, inspiring, and practical.

What I missed seeing here was the expansion of this concept to include the addition of learning support services such as tutoring that would have transformed the envisioned space into a true Learning Commons as defined in previous posts. Canadian libraries are at the forefront of this trend, which I find very promising. For an example of a Learning Commons 2.0, take a look at this one at McMaster University.

A Commons By Any Other Name …

Earlier this week on the ACRLog, StevenB posted a question about the difference between the Information Commons and the Learning Commons. He says he used to understand the difference, which he describes below. But now he is not so sure. My understanding of the difference is exactly as he describes below, so I’m not sure what the confusion is all about? Maybe, he is really questioning the perceived value of the Learning Commons?

Steven, do you think their is no value in the added academic support services that a Learning Commons implies?

Others who have implemented a true Learning Commons in your library, do you find students take advantage of the added services? Is there more serendipity? Do students come in for tutoring and stay to work on a computer? Or do students working on a project stumble on to the writing center? These are the sorts of consequences I would expect as a result of co-locating services near each other.

If this is not the outcome, I’d like to know because we are currently planning for our new library complete with both Information Commons and Learning Commons. Or maybe it’s an Information Commons and Learning Center? Of course it’s all the Library!

Seekin’ An Answer ‘Bout The Commons
“The learning commons on the other hand had grander visions. The big difference is in “co-located services”. The learning happens at the learning commons because multiple academic support services are located there; tutoring, the writing center, educational technology and others are invited to share space in the learning commons or they have scheduled hours there.”