The Emergence of the Learning Commons


The Learning Commons integrates the new and the old in a seamless physical and virtual space in which all formats can be assimilated and studied. 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.

For schools, the Learning Commons incorporates the classroom, the school library and the school board to connect students to the real and virtual worlds that are growing and maturing around them.

Just as the Internet has created a web of global connections, information and interactions, the Learning Commons creates a network of information, people and programs for learning within a school and beyond. Universal access ensures that learning is within reach of everyone at all hours… day or night.

Key Components of the Learning Commons

Physical and Virtual Space

The Learning Commons seeks to expand and integrate the real and virtual choices learners have to share their experiences. Safe, inclusive and welcoming environments throughout a school are imperative to meet the diverse abilities and learning styles of individuals, teams and groups. Virtual learning spaces increase this potential.

Equitable Access

The moment educators encouraged independent study and individual thinking through exploration of multiple resources, inequities were revealed — inequities between rural and urban, small and large, and rich and poor schools. These inequities have become increasingly serious. The emergence of virtual resources and new powers of search can help make access more equitable.

Learning Partnerships

The Learning Commons provides a space where everyone in a school can work together. Teachers, teacher-librarians, principals, technical staff, students… all can collaborate in learning partnerships. And all can switch the emphasis from teaching to learning. With everyone modeling how to learn, the learning process will become a natural part of a student’s being.

Technology in Learning

Students appear to have natural abilities to use emerging technology. But the reality is, while students easily grasp the entertainment and communication value of the devices they use, they need to be taught how these tools can be used in learning and critical thought. This is a task for the Learning Commons.

(Ontario School Library Association (OLA), Together for Learning: School Libraries and the Emergence of the Learning Commons, 2010)

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