Canadian Learning Commons Conference
In 2002 Red Deer College opened a brand new Library Information Common. In the subsequent ten years, the learning commons experience at Red Deer College has evolved, expanding beyond the library and throughout the institution. We now operate four separate learning commons, with different services depending on the learning styles and needs of learners in each location. The services offered within the Library Information Common have also evolved to include partnerships with traditional and non-traditional service areas in an effort to meet the changing learning and information fluency needs of our students and faculty. Join us as we reflect on the benefits and challenges of creating and maintaining a learning commons that continues to evolve to meet the needs of 21st century learners.
Kristine Plastow, Chairperson, Library Information Common, Red Deer College, Red Deer, Alberta
Looking to develop a peer-coaching program in your Learning Commons? Interested in learning more about how to provide peer coaches with challenges that encourage continued growth and improvement?
Findings from a recent Stanford University study (Bettinger and Baker 2011) suggest that student coaching programs have a positive impact on undergraduate student retention and improve graduation rates. Recognizing the impact of peer coaching programs, the Chapman Learning Commons (CLC) at the University of British Columbia has offered a successful peer academic coaching program for the past two years and the program continues to develop and evolve in response to student need.
By exploring the Chapman Learning Commons ‘Coaches Corner’ as a case study, this session will focus on strategies for implementing a student-centred peer-coaching program in a Learning Commons environment; discuss staff training and development; and highlight program assessment methods. The Peer Academic Coaching program in the CLC goes beyond traditional learning commons collaborations, including faculty-based partners and programs, and this session will explore how those partnerships started and are maintained. Overall, this session will highlight both the success and challenges of the ‘Coaches Corner’ and discuss the dynamic – and often difficult – nature of implementing a peer coaching program in a large and complex university environment.
Julie Mitchell, Managing Librarian, Chapman Learning Commons, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia
Teri Grant, Student Development Coordinator, Chapman Learning Commons, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia
Those who work directly with students may not have been surprised by recent reports such as “What Students Don’t Know” (Inside Higher Ed). While we employ ethnographic and other means to better understand our students (“Studying Students” (Foster & Gibbons)) we know they don’t necessarily understand us or what we do. It isn’t enough to provide the perfect array of services if your users don’t know they exist. How does today’s LC/Reference manager align and develop staff resources in new ways to not just meet the need at the time of need but build the campus relationships so important for ongoing success and service development? This presentation will highlight recent reports and note best practices used by front line staff and their managers in outreach, advertising, and in collaborating with students. Particular attention will be paid to how we actually use what we learn from assessment and good examples using creativity and humour
Lesley Pease, Head, Learning Commons, Syracuse University Library
Within the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina University opening January 2013 are two innovative spaces that introduce the creative potential of theaters and galleries into the context of learning spaces. The Teaching and Visualization Lab and the Creativity Studio will support a range of yet-to-be-defined uses by offering immersive visualization environments, highly configurable physical spaces, and advanced backend technology support for event capture and remote broadcast. The Teaching and Visualization Lab will feature 270-degree seamless display, with interactive multitouch on the fourth wall. The Creativity Studio will feature whiteboard and curtain walls on ceiling tracks, two large-scale projection-based displays, theatrical lighting, rubber floors, and casual furniture. Even before the library’s opening, interested users of these spaces include a simulation lab for driving big ships, capstone projects presentation space for undergraduates in engineering, and game design studios. Spaces such as these are clearly needed in the context of a 21st century university curriculum utilizing visualization and engagement with big data and emphasizing collaborative, project-based and hands-on work. Is the library the right home for such spaces? This experiment at NCSU Libraries will attempt to make the case that the library is in fact the ideal place to both incubate and sustain these and other innovative learning spaces.
Kristin Antelman, Associate Director for the Digital Library, North Carolina State University Libraries
Maurice York, Head, Information Technology, North Carolina State University Libraries
Progressing from a rough idea between two people to the grand opening within one year, University of Southern Maine Libraries moved from a mostly-traditional Reference model, to a fully-integrated service model for research assistance, writing assistance, technology assistance, and tutoring in a growing number of disciplines, plus testing, and online scheduling. Online tutoring is included along with a variety of study spaces. A low-cost remodeling of two library facilities provided many learning experiences, while staff faced a sea of change in library philosophy. USM will not provide a Swiss Clock model of efficiency, but a practical summary of the challenges most medium size institutions might expect in transitioning services and facilities to the collaborative model that matches like-functions for enhanced student service and success. By combining two physically and administratively separate departments, both parties have gained campus visibility and achieved greater efficiency, while being enabled to accomplish more than the old model/budget could have afforded. Creativity was an essential outcome.
Librarians and Student Services administrators will present one model for collaborative planning and implementation on the fast track.
Paul Dexter, Coordinator for Learning Assistance, University of Southern Maine
Bill Grubb, Head of Reference and the Information Literacy Program, University of Southern Maine
In 2010 the University of Calgary Libraries and Cultural Resources was in the midst of planning for service delivery in the soon to be open Taylor Family Digital Library. The decision had been made to have an integrated service desk in the Learning Commons as the main service desk for the TFDL. Circulation and reference services previously provided by separate staff at separate desks would be provided from one desk. To implement this service and staffing change, managers conducted a workflow analysis, a review of job responsibilities and a revision of job profiles. The back of house Access responsibilities would remain with Access services and the front of house delivery would go to the staff of the Learning Commons, previously the Information Commons.
The speakers will review the steps taken towards implementing this change in service delivery and the outcomes so far. Access services had to analyze workflow and include new work responsibilities such as shelf retrieval and dissemination of materials from the High Density Library. Learning Commons staff had to acquire new circulation knowledge and skills all the while providing reference service from a single desk. Workflow, new tasks, and new responsibilities continue to be matters for continual review and revision.
Susan Beatty, Head, Learning Commons, Taylor Family Digital Library, University of Calgary
Rob Tiessen, Head, Access Services, Libraries and Cultural Resources, University of Calgary
In order for academic libraries to stay viable and pertinent to their undergraduate constituents, it is necessary to diversify our services. One way to do this is by establishing key partnerships with various groups on campus to contribute directly to undergraduate research, technological projects, and tutoring in the library’s learning commons. Attend this presentation to learn how your learning commons can assist in creating, managing, and maintaining partnerships and technological services that can help you positively impact student engagement and success, and contribute to your university’s retention efforts. This presentation will guide those working in a learning commons through the process of identifying, establishing and maintaining partnerships that help students from the first stage of their research to the final stage of preparing a poster or oral presentation. Florida State University Libraries operates a learning commons that provides a varied palette of services that includes: a wide range of technology services and products, including tutors who help with digital projects; an in-house, late-night peer tutoring program sponsored by Student Government Association; traditional instructional programs in entry-level classes; events with the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Honors program; and hosting special academic events such as marathon readings and the spring Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Michelle Demeter, Academic Partnerships Librarian, Florida State University
Bridgett Birmingham, Technology and Media Librarian, Florida State University
A Learning Commons can be thought of as a place which encourages and stimulates the academic process with the assistance of technology, social interaction, and a sense of community, whilst having the necessary materials to further one’s educational growth. While this is certainly applicable to clients, it is also something that should be true of the student staff that elects to work the Commons service desks semester after semester. Even though they are staff, it should not be forgotten that they are students, and that to work in a Commons environment and assist hundreds of their peers necessitates an ongoing development of skills and familiarity with the procedures. Consistent training methods, paired with ongoing weekly “challenges” set by the permanent staff have been invaluable in making the student staff of The Commons, Memorial University of Newfoundland more productive, involved, and readily capable of serving clients. Through this presentation, one can see the endless possibilities associated with employing consistent training methods for students. Being that the Learning Commons is a place of collaboration and education growth, it is vital to make student staff members of The Commons as involved in the community as much as possible, whilst allowing them to develop their skills and work portfolio for the future. This creates a symbiotic relationship in which students experience a positive work environment that prepares them for future work placements, and in which permanent staff members are able to draw out the best in their staff.
Sandra Mills, Student Support Assistant and Assistive Technology Coordinator, The Commons, Memorial University of Newfoundland
As the learning commons evolves, integration is becoming a bigger driver of usage of services and equipment and of delivering value to our clients, students. At the Canaccord Learning Commons, working closer with our stakeholders and leveraging technology to meet their needs has been an important part of our success in delivering new services and programs for students with a small team and budget. Our approach has been both to be proactive at finding how our partners can use our equipment and services and also to invite them to approach us with their own ideas and needs. This means our program development is driven in large part by our different stakeholder groups. Our partners’ driving of the development of our services and programs has given us both high usage levels and challenges in making collaboration work. Planning and execution with limited resources has driven innovation in both the nature of our partnerships but also has surfaced planning and tight execution as a core capability our team has to possess. Using technology has been the enabler of this process. Technology allows us to overcome the challenge of servicing 3300 students with a small team. It has also meant finding creative ways to both leverage and reward our partners. The results has been successful initiatives with faculty, students and staff across the school and university, positive feedback from student sand increased usage and awareness about our services.
Alex Monegro, Student Development Manager, Canaccord Learning Commons, University of British Columbia
The University of Calgary-Qatar (UCQ) Learning Commons consists of two traditional learning support units, the library and the writing centre. These units have partnered with other UCQ units to develop and implement a credit course designed to prepare EFL students for the rigors of learning in a post-secondary institution. Many students seeking admission to the nursing program at UCQ are unfamiliar with Canadian university academic standards and are academically underprepared in critical thinking, hard and soft academic skills, and language to be successful in university nursing courses. The design and development of the course involved collaboration between the Learning Commons (writing and research), Counselling (cognitive learning), Philosophy (logic), English for Academic Purposes (language development), and the Faculty Development Centre (pedagogy). This course uses a guided inquiry and process-based approach to guide the students through two cycles of academic work, the first culminates in a group oral presentation of a case study and the second in a persuasive research essay. The course components are linked and continually reinforced through assignments, lectures, group work and discussion. The course is delivered using a collaborative teaching model with three instructors present for each class, which further reinforces the interconnection between the course components. The presenter will outline the evolution of the course since its inception and its four subsequent iterations. He will also discuss the success and effectiveness of this non-traditional collaboration as well as the crucial role of the Learning Commons in the successful ongoing delivery and coordination of the course.
Chris Thomas, Chief Librarian, University of Calgary-Qatar (UCQ) in Doha, Qatar
Victoria University has engaged in a proactive partnership with student peer mentors that explicitly extends the agency and participation of students in both physical and virtual learning spaces, including the university’s learning commons (Kirkwood, Best, McCormack, & Tout, 2012). Student rovers, peer career advisors, student writing mentors and postgraduate research ambassadors all provide different forms of active community-based learning in our learning commons. Huijser, Kimmins and Evans (2008) describe the meta-spaces occupied by peer-assisted learning as ones that extend trust, strengthen identity, and make participation more meaningful. Our student peer mentors are beginning to take increasing responsibility for what happens in the learning commons, expanding our professional service model in unanticipated and exciting ways and making more visible – as well as more dynamic – the development of a learning community in our learning commons. Session presented by Keith Kirkwood; co-contributors are Frances O'Neil, Gary Potter, Rob Vague (Victoria University, Melbourne) and Adrian Gallagher (Victoria University, Melbourne).
Keith Kirkwood, Lecturer, School of Language and Learning, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
Frances O’Neil, Associate Librarian, Information Services, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
Garry Potter, Manager, Campus Libraries, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
Learning and Writing Peer Educators and English as an Additional Language Conversation Partners at SFU’s Student Learning Commons are part of a larger Peer Program (http://students.sfu.ca/development/peer-education.html ) which has always maintained that the personal and professional development of volunteers is equally important as the services they provide. To that end, a goal-setting and action-planning component has long been part of the program, eliciting comments such as, “I thought that volunteering was about helping other students but now I realize that it is all about helping me.” New to the program in the last two years is the opportunity for senior Peers to assume the role of Peer Coach. While continuing part-time in their responsibilities as Learning and Writing or EAL Peers, the SLC’s Peer Coaches also receive training in coaching strategies and help other Learning and Writing or EAL Peers develop, implement, and reflect upon their professional learning objectives. Therefore, through helping their Peers develop their life skills, Peer Coaches take the development of their own life skills to the next level. This presentation will include Peer Programs’ coaching and learning objectives models; Peer Coach training curriculum; and, most importantly, the voices of Peer Coaches and Learning and Writing and EAL Peer Educators.
Ruth Silverman, Learning Services Coordinator and divisional Advisor for the Learning and Writing Peer Educators at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.
Donna McGee-Thompson, Head, Student Learning Commons, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.
Marissa Funaro, Student Life Educator, Peer Programs, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.
Supporting the active learning process of the 21st century student is one of the main goals of the Learning Commons at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (USA). Building and maintaining effective student learning spaces and academic services requires proactive assessment of University climate, pedagogical direction, and curriculum development. Increasingly instructors are using active, group, and participatory teaching methods and are offering students opportunities to opt in to more creative assignments requiring the use of advanced technologies in support of multimedia projects. The UMass Libraries aim to anticipate the needs of instructors and students by tailoring student spaces to support teaching and learning goals. During our presentation, we will address:
- How the UMass Amherst Learning Commons proactively meets user needs through collaborations with the Office of Information Technologies (OIT), Center for Teaching & Faculty Development (CTFD), Writing Center, Learning Resources (Tutoring) Center, Academic Advising, International Programs Office, Disability Services, and other programs.
- Plans for new Multimedia Commons to assist students’ visual literacy needs as well as technology support.
- Recent implementation of the Team Based Learning (TBL) classroom as a pilot for increasing team based learning pedagogical methods.
We will illustrate how needs assessment data is utilized to realize new student spaces and services. Providing examples of our research for best practices, as well as our spaces under development, our presentation will visually review our project planning process. We will demonstrate how the revitalization of the Learning Commons to support the 21st century learner is based on the holistic structure of the University environment
Carol Will, Coordinator, Learning Commons, W.E.B. DuBois Library, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Sarah Hutton, Head of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Services, W.E.B. DuBois Library, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Robert C. Davis, Manager of the Office of Information Technologies
Academic Computing Computer Classrooms, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Creating a learning commons invites all of the participating partners to rethink their services to maximize the opportunities created by new spaces and collaborations. Seattle University opened a new learning commons in an expanded and renovated building, Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons, in September 2010. Research services librarians recognized that the new building and our new partnerships with the writing center, the learning assistance program, and the math lab were an opportunity for the librarians to design a new way of collaborating with library users and our new partners. In this session, we will discuss the creation of our new information service desks and the development of an on call research service. We have incorporated a new student staff that provides basic informational and directional assistance at service desks on two floors of the new building. Librarians, using an iPhone, are called when a user needs research assistance. The librarian is free to move around the building to assist the users at their point of need. This flexibility has allowed for more collaboration between librarians and users. As we are moving into our second year, we are exploring ways to assess this new service. At the end of the presentation, we will invite a brief discussion of how others have revised services in a learning commons environment.
Lynn Deeken, Instruction and Assessment Coordinator, Librarian in Research Services, Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons, Seattle University.
Judy Solberg, Director of Public Service and Coordinator of the Learning Commons Partnership, Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons, Seattle University.
DS106 is an open online course on digital storytelling offered by the University of Mary Washington. In this course, all participants are students, and all students are teachers. Assignments are designed by members of the course community, and assessment is provided on the fly through peer feedback. This course is an immersive experience in digital media, online publication, and social software, and has evolved to include hundreds of participants around the world.
See what can happen when instructors (and institutions) give control of a course to the students who are taking it. Real examples from the course will be presented, including the assignment generator, the 24/7 student-run internet radio station. From the course description: "Digital Storytelling (also affectionately known as ds106) is an open, online course that will begin on January 10th, 2011 happens at various times throughout the year....but you can join in whenever you like and leave whenever you need. This course is free to anyone who wants to take it, and the only requirements are a real computer, a hardy internet connection, a domain of your own, some commodity web hosting, and all the creativity you can muster (and we'll spend time helping you get up and running with at least two of the last three requirements)."
D’Arcy Norman, IT Partner, Teaching and Learning Centre, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary
This presentation will provide information on and update the status of Alberta Education’s School Library Services Initiative (SLSI); which focuses on seamless access to library services for students through the school library learning commons perspective; an initiative using both physical and digital resources to support the school's efforts to respond to each student's learning needs. The school library learning commons is a concept that helps schools innovate and collaborate within a design that adapts to student and teacher needs. The SLIS has been reviewing school library services in Alberta K-12 and drafting a revised School Library Services Policy and Guidelines currently being reviewed by the Minister. The draft revised School Library Services Policy and Guidelines aligns with the Integrated Government of Alberta Library Policy (in development). In keeping with the theme of the conference, the update will provide information on the subsequent development of digital support resources for implementation upon policy approval; e.g., access models, templates, and in-services supporting school libraries transforming to a learning commons perspective.
Judith Sykes, School Library Service Manager, Government of Alberta, Education.
The newly minted Student Library Advisory Council at UBC Okanagan had no idea that their first opportunity would be a significant one: to provide student input to the architects, designers, and librarians during the renovation of the Learning Commons.
Sarah will share how the Library included the Council members in the re-design of the Learning Commons, and how the Council helped the library reach out to other students for feedback.
Cherry will share a student’s perspective about being included in the re-design process and working with the librarians and architects to make sure the new space will meet students’ needs into the future
Sarah Stang, Learning Services Librarian- Learning Commons, UBC Okanagan, Kelowna, BC
Cherry Wang, Senior Student Ambassador, Student Library Advisory Council, UBC Okanagan, Kelowna BC
Peer to peer service models are fundamental to many Learning Commons environments and contribute to student success. Many student-delivered services in learning commons compliment programs traditionally offered exclusively by professional staff such as librarians, IT professionals, learning specialists or student affairs personnel. In such service models, students are the front line contact and the need for knowledgeable assistance and accurate referrals remains paramount.
This session will present the findings of a study that investigates how training and assessment is approached with student staff in a Learning Commons environment. Learning commons coordinators and supervisors from across North American shared how they train students (methods and content), approach ongoing professional development of student staff, and how they monitor or assess the overall quality and accuracy of their student service models. The session will review the survey results and offer tangible examples, insights and strategies for fostering an engaged student team, driven to deliver a high level of service.
Nathalie Soini, Learning Commons Coordinator, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario
Julie Mitchell, Managing Librarian, Chapman Learning Commons, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia
This session will describe the progress of the WriteAway consortium initiative currently under development in British Columbia. This consortium is working collaboratively to apply the best innovations in the use of technologies and Learning Commons resources to support learning and writing beyond the physical spaces and individual capacities of independent institutions. Through institutional and Learning Commons collaboration, a pilot is underway to test the concept of a universal writing support program that will eventually be accessible to post-secondary learners throughout the province.
Through WriteAway, we are expanding beyond the traditional collaborations between learning and writing support units, libraries, and IT to reach out to students and instructors in the delivery of Learning Commons services. Drawing on tutors and expertise within each of the collaborating institutions, the consortium will provide academic support that many students would not be able to receive simply through their own institution’s resources.
Looking to the phenomenal success of the BC AskAway library chat reference service, WriteAway has similar potential to enhance student engagement, retention and success, key factors the consortium aspires to measure.
Discussion and insights are welcome in this session.
Elaine Fairey, Associate University Librarian, Learning and Research Services, Simon Fraser University Library
Lynn Benn, Director, Student Development responsible for Learning Centres in the Learning Commons and Disabilities Services at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC.
The University of Saskatchewan’s Learning Commons is relatively new – only one year younger than the Learning Communities (LC) program for first-year students. Since 2009, both have seen tremendous growth, with the Learning Commons becoming a fixture in the lives of students. The Learning Commons has recently expanded to include a new Collaborative Learning Lab (CLL) to serve the increased need for collaborative work space. The LC program has also expanded, including more than 500 first-year students led by 42 upper-year Peer Mentors in the fall term of 2011. One of our greatest challenges in scaling up the LC program has been tempered by the opening of the new CLL in the Learning Commons. The CLL is equipped with a smart board, a flat screen monitor on each wall, rotating video cameras, and movable chairs and tables.
LC Peer Mentors work in pairs to co-facilitate first-year Learning Communities. In the fall of 2011, we implemented Meta-Learning Communities (Learning Communities about Learning Communities); a new layer of ongoing training for our Peer Mentors that effectively and efficiently communicates our expectations and the values of the LC program. Two groups of 21 LC Peer Mentors met weekly in the new CLL space as part of their ongoing training. In this presentation we will model a Meta-Learning Community Hour using some of the electronically captured Meta-LC content from the fall term of 2011. We will demonstrate that using the CLL for meta-learning enables more inclusive, reciprocal, ongoing feedback, and that a stronger connection between learning communities can ultimately be achieved.
Erin DeLathouwer, Learning Communities Program Coordinator at the University of Saskatchewan’s University Learning Centre
Megan Marcoux is a Coordinator of the Learning Communities program at the University of Saskatchewan’s University Learning Centre
Joel Fonstad is a Coordinator of the Learning Communities program at the University of Saskatchewan’s University Learning Centre
The Learning Commons is the locus for supporting emerging modes of student knowledge production on campus. In order to support these ever changing modes and to create a robust learning environment, Learning Commons staff must themselves be learners and learning facilitators. Though we often focus on how best to develop these learning skills and dispositions in our students, we must also consider the “human infrastructure” in the Learning Commons. 21st century learners need 21st century learning staff. This session will investigate the intersection of developing learning dispositions and technology training in staff. How can we train for dispositions? Build staff self-reliance and informal learning? Build a customer service ethic, and merge it with service goals of learning support? Beyond the train-the trainer, how to implement a program of training for the tendencies needed to promote self-driven learning and student driven teaching? Learning theory, training design models and social learning are just some of the inspirations that learning commons leaders can draw upon.
Rudy Leon, Technology Training & Outreach Librarian, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Assistant Professor for library administration
Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, coordinator for information literacy services, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Associate Professor for library administration, and Adjunct instructor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois
Library web sites as one-way streams of information need to be transformed into “If they build it, they will use it” collaborative learning commons. Using simple tools, the presenter will demonstrate a transformation from static web sites to knowledge building centers (including book2cluid environments), personal learning environments, experimental learning environments, school culture collaboratives, and interactive information centers built collaboratively by students, professors, library professionals, and other professionals in the college or university. The Virtual Learning Commons is and companion to a Physical Learning Commons, but in a progressively online world, it becomes central to teaching and learning. The presenter will not only challenge the thinking and construction of the traditional library website, but demonstrate and challenge the audience to build quite a different information environment using Web 2.0 tools. And, it does not require millions in physical construction projects, so everyone can begin immediately.
David V. Loertscher, Professor, Library and Information Science, San Jose University, California