The Learning Commons

What I’ve found fascinating in the study of this course is the intersection between the physical spaces and learning. Does the space determine the culture or the culture the spaces? When students in the Learning Commons of the Senior School are accessing digital spaces such as online databases provided by the Library, are they using the Library? What does “using the Library” mean? If so, what input does the Library then have? If the conventional orthodoxy is that students come to the Library to access information, what does it mean when they access information from another space? Does it make information specialists redundant or just reimagined? Since the construction of the Senior School Learning Commons (SSLC) we have almost the same number of students coming to the Library as before. They tell me it’s because when they come, they know they are there to work. The open-plan design of the SSLC actually mitigates against the motivation to study. Students say it’s because the architects forgot to factor in the distracting smells of grilled cheese wafting from the kitchen downstairs through the void. Or the open-space distraction that occurs naturally when one student walks past another and begins a perfectly reasonable conversation about something entirely unrelated to study. This appears to require a high level of engagement with the work in order to remain focused.

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