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What is a Learning Commons

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Last updated on Wednesday, January 29, 2014.

What in the world is a Learning Commons?

Learning Commons

“A Learning Commons is a flexible and responsive approach to helping schools focus on learning collaboratively. It expands the learning experience, taking students and educators into virtual spaces beyond the walls of a school.”

Research around the Learning Commons, 21st Century Fluencies and Education in HWDSB all support the belief that students need to be knowledge builders and develop transferable skills in order to become success, contributing members of our society.

A Learning Commons provides consistent opportunities for growth and learning to learn. It can become a “physical and virtual catalyst where inquiry, imagination, discovery and creativity come alive and become central to growth – personal, academic, social and cultural.”

The school library already has many of the characteristics which are included in a Learning Commons. The school library is already:
• cross-curricular
• multi-grad
• a physical space set up for collaborative and individual work

What distinguishes the Learning Commons from a traditional School Library is that the Learning Commons:
• encompasses virtual spaces, which may be accessed from the library or anywhere in the school or at home 24/7
• considers students to be creators of knowledge, not simply consumers
• values and facilitates collaborative work and the formation of flexible learning networks, which may extend to experts outside the school
• values self-directed, inquiry-based learning
• leverages students’ familiarity and comfort with online social networking services and digital devices, but for academic purposesImage of Globe
• provides equitable access to resources
• values cultural understanding and global awareness

“The Learning Commons liberates the exploration of ideas and concepts; encouraging inquiry, imagination, discovery and creativity through the connection of learners to information, to each other and to communities around the world.”

From Making the Connections: A Resource Document,  HWDSB, 2011. Quotes taken from Together for Learning: School Libraries and the Emergence of the Learning Commons, OLA, 2010.