8 Considerations when Creating a 21st Century Learning Commons

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There are important elements that need to be considered when trying to create a 21st Century Library Space. Libraries of the 21st Century truly need to be spaces that promote both physical and virtual senses of Safety, Inclusiveness, and Equity. Regardless of your situation, Safety, Inclusiveness, and Equity need to be at the forefront of your planning.

We all know that each school library is different depending upon its its own challenges and strengths. Variables that will inevitably impact your Library space can include: planning time, budget, furniture, in-library and extra-curricular activities, administrative support, collection, tech knowledge, and parent council, to name a few. Therefore, it takes a lot of critical thought to be able to effectively implement an effective 21st Century Library Space within your school.

8 Important Considerations when creating a 21st Century Learning Commons

  1. You want your Library space to be as flexible as possible! Create a flexible and responsive space in order to meet the changing needs of your school both now, and in the future. Therefore you may want to further consider furniture that is easily moveable, to enable flexible instructional spaces throughout the day, and the years to come. For instance, easily moveable tables that can easily be maneuvered easily throughout the day, whether for small group work, conferencing, or even placing them into a larger  ‘conference’ type table with a Smart Board at the end, or a big screen tv.
  2. Consider having 2 Smart Boards, One set ceiling mounted, and one moveable throughout the day. Enabling different groups to work at different times. This also promotes Assessment For Learning opportunities with our students.
  3. Make sure you have electrical outlets everywhere! Consider having up to 8 sockets in various places around your library! You never know when or where you may need to plug in a cluster of iPads for student research involving social networking!
  4. Consider iPads or tablets, and/or eReaders for your library. Consider purchasing a small bank of them for centers in your library for research, social media, Gaming, and eReading. Having these devices available for use on a daily basis within your library also promotes Equity and opportunities for students who may not have access at home. Important note: If you have iPads, get html cables to be able to hook them up to your Smart Boards, and also consider getting apple tv boxes for wireless usage with your iPads on the smart boards, and big screen tv’s!
  5. Create Great Learning Spaces within your library for students to engage with each other. Find ways to make the spaces feel special for the students, to enable them to co-construct meaning together from online experiences. This could include: iPad clusters (not computer labs!), Gaming centres, eReaders, Study Rooms, Research Center, and spaces for Social Media Connections. 
  6. Create a Strong Online Presence! And don’t limite yourself to just websites or blogs. Use Twitter, Edmodo, Kidmodo, and other Learning Management Systems to connect with your students, staff, and communities.
    1. Also, with your students, staff, and community, consider co-creating your own

    Personalized Digital Citizenship document and usage guidelines for your new 21st Century Library. This is an effective way to build a 21st Century Learning Community, and get your 21st Century Library space off to a great start.

  7. Keeping your sights set on a 21st Century Library also means attending to newest software, eBooks and Apps! Get involved with Professional Learning Networks and get to know the many software, eBooks and apps that can be used for all students.

Despite the myriad of variables that Libraries must juggle and maneuver, there are always positive steps that anyone can start to take to prepare your Library for the 21st Century.

What are some of the wonderful things that you have done to create a wonderful 21st Century Learning Commons?

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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