The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win! Reinventing School Libraries and Computer Labs by David V. Loertscher, Carol Koechlin, and Sandi Zwaan Here

The New Learning Commons: Where the Learners Win! By David V. Loertscher, Carol Koechlin, and Sandi Zwann.

Theme:  Web 2.0, New Technology, School Libraries, teachers, librarians


This book clearly outlines a major shift in educational thought and practice, from the traditional one-way delivery method of information delivery, from teacher to student, to a two-way ongoing dialogue. The analogy given is the difference between the Microsoft Model, “we will build it for you”, to the Google model, which is participatory, “If they build it, they will use it.” Many educators are realizing that there is a huge disconnect between student use of technology at home versus the lack of technology in schools. This disconnect is diminishing student engagement and motivation. Loertscher, Koechlin, and Zwann, use a quote from Stephen Krashen to illustrate how it affects current educational achievement, “today’s youth read at about the same level as their parents did at the same age, but the problem is that the demand for literacy has risen,.” Pg. 31. Some of the key factors that are discussed in the book are:
a)Creation of an Open Commons (both virtual and physical)
b) Creation of a Experimental Learning Centre (both virtual and Physical)
c) Knowledge Building, Learning Literacy, Technology and the Learning Commons
d) Collaboration
e) Client Based Organization
f) Evidence- Based Practice
I think that there is an incubation period that occurs before implementation of any new idea. And, most of us are in this early stage. We are still discussing, debating, and trying to understand what this new model will look like, feel like and how it will work. Along the way to implementation we are sure to make mistakes, and will need to make many revisions. It’s going to take dialogue, reflection and communication among all of the stakeholders (students, teachers, admin) to make it work. The authors of “The New Learning Commons” have described the educational landscape as “uneven” which is an apt description. Their book gives lots of diverse examples of teachers who are making the transition, this is not a cookie cutter approach, to a major educational change of direction.

Action Plan:
The dilemma is how to make this model work when some of the key ingredients are missing. In our board we do not have TL’s at each elementary school, instead we have library clerks who travel between 5 or 6 schools (one day a week) and one TL for all 35 schools. And at the secondary school level, we have 1 TL for 7 High Schools. However, I think that Loertscher, Koechin, and Zwann would suggest to use what you have, and just get started. We do have Literacy coaches in each school to dialogue with, and we do have the tools of advocacy and promotion. Plus, I have found that there are always pockets of people who are willing to listen and try new things. These are the teachers who are a joy to work with while progressing towards creating a Learning Commons. I would like to hear comments and thoughts from other TL’s regarding implementing the Learning Commons concept in their schools.

Some things that I can start to work on are:
a) adding a Web 2.0 component to our virtual library
b) evaluate the physical space of each library with the goal of having the following components:
1. Flexible furniture, book displays
2. Integrate technology- ideally use laptop carts, smart boards, book look-up computers
3. Display student projects- research models
4. Variety of materials, e.g., books, magazines, virtual

What do you think? Is it doable?


2 Responses to The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win! Reinventing School Libraries and Computer Labs by David V. Loertscher, Carol Koechlin, and Sandi Zwaan Here

  1. Contej says:

    Doable? Yes. But so much more effective with teacher/teacher-librarian partnership. I agree use the resources U have, but don’t give up the fight to get TL’s reinstated in UR Board. The evidence for the potential positive impact on student success is overwhelming!

    • bluegirl571 says:

      I agree, TL’s have a significant impact, and we haven’t given up advocating for them. Money is the major stumbling block, however the more that we implement the learning commons vision, the more revelant TL’s appear. Part of the problem is the traditional image of what a TL does in the school. If you have any examples of the work of an outstanding TL, I would be very interested.

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