Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Engagement - It's Very Commons

No, that's not a typo in the title, although those who know me would suspect that as I can make Mavis Beacon weep. Just be thankful I DO know who Mavis is or it would be really painful reading this.

No, what is on my mind today is Learning Commons. I had the privilege today of conducting, with a colleague, a workshop at an Open House held at the the Pictou campus of the Nova Scotia Community College (I am faculty at the Institute of Technology campus in Halifax, about a 90 minute or so drive from Pictou). There are 13 campuses all told in the NSCC system.

The Pictou campus has been renovated in the past couple of years and now has a learning commons at the front of the building by the main entrance. It is a central location, almost the hub of the campus where students can congregate - spun off of it almost like the arms of an octopus are the campus bookstore, Centre for Student Success, and the other administrative and support services of the campus. Talk about one-stop shopping!

As you can see it is full of activity with students engaged with each other about what they are doing. I love the idea of a learning commons, a space for students to be with other students, to relax, to study, to talk, but most importantly to learn from each other. Students from different programmes can cross-pollinate with others and get a much richer educational experience. Students really are each other's most valuable assets and having a learning commons allows them to exploit this resource to the max.

The IT campus where I work is commonless at this point in time, there is not really a similar place where students can gather like they can in a learning commons - I cannot wait to see the impact of a learning commons on my campus, when it comes...

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