What are Learning Commons?


What are Learning Commons?
A Learning Commons is a dynamic, collaborative environment on campus, often physically in the library, that provides assistence to students with information and research needs. It combines individual and group study space, in-depth reference service, and instruction from a variety of sources, including librarians and information technology staff. Some of its key concerns are learning, writing, technology use, and research. Its main purpose is to make student learning easier and more successful.
Who are typical Learning Commons' partners?
Every Learning Commons has a different combination of partners. Typical partners are usually a University's library, Information Technology department, and campus Writing Centre. Other partners can include student associations, peer groups, disability services, ESL groups, and undergraduate advising services.
Who can use the Learning Commons?
Although Learning Commons are usually designed for use by undergraduate students, anyone can use one. Some Learning Commons offer space and workshops specifically for graduate students.
Why create a Learning Commons?
Learning Commons are increasingly popular because they integrate services traditionally found in many locations around campus. A Learning Commons works with its partners to create a single location, often one students go to anyway. They have proved popular at other universities because they offer "one-stop shopping" for students, which is the opportunity to improve their writing skills, research skills, general learning skills, and basic computing skills in one location. They are also popular because they facilitate a high level of collaboration among their partners, enabling them to reach more students, in a more effective manner.
How are Learning Commons different from Information Commons?
While the two terms have been used interchangeably, there is a growing trend to differentiate them. Learning Commons emphasize instruction and collaboration while Information Commons often emphasize technology and digital resources. Learning Commons is a more inclusive term that often includes the concepts emphasized by Information Commons.

A full-realized Learning Commons should -

1. Consider success in student learning as its main goal by providing a range of services in a convenient location where students gather to work.
2. Include a staff that facilitates debate, discussion, cooperation and collaboration between students, librarians, Learning Commons partners, faculty and staff.
3. Install sufficient information technology, including computers, printers, scanners, copiers, wireless, electrical outlets, databases, up to date software and other digital resources.
4. Offer students instruction and assistance in this technology, and raise awareness about the types of digital resources that exist in the Learning Commons.
5. Support the development of Information Literacy, in a physical and virtual manner, to reach more students.
6. Provide an accessible and aesthetically pleasing work space that includes group study rooms, social space, and quiet space.
7. Assess itself on a regular basis to make sure it is providing the best possible service to students.
8. Teach the responsible use of information, and foster the philosophy of the commons - open access, freedom of information and community.
taken from: http://www.library.yorku.ca/ccm/Home/preview/infolit/commons/learning-commons.en

Websites for the Learning Commons: