Making it in the Learning Commons
by Marc Crompton
This paper outlines the challenges and successes of infusing innovative technologies within a high school learning commons in British Columbia. The learning commons itself is evolving within a major re-building project for the school. The author provides background of his experiences and shares reflections learned and notes for those planning to engage in Making as Inquiry Learning to consider.
is a 30-year veteran educator with more than a third of that time spent working in libraries. His degrees are in music performance, education and he holds an MLIS from San Jose State University. He’s been lucky enough to work closely with David Loertscher and, with him, has co-authored Collection Development Using the Collection Mapping Technique
. He is excited about the role of the Makespace in the Learning Commons environment and works extensively with his Maker Club and a STEM program as well as heading the Sr Learning Commons at St George’s School in Vancouver.
Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring journey! I am in the early years of explorations in makerspaces, with 3D printers, various building "toys", and some tools. I absolutely love when students engaging in hands on activities have those "ah ha" moments and get excited, it fills my bucket and makes me beam every single time! I also appreciate the constant challenge of trying to meet everyone's needs - it is hard to have a noisy makerspace and a quiet work space at the same time. When you said "It is at first a physical space that brings together people with overlapping interests. It is not a teacher directed program space..." (p. 4), it made me wonder how you manage many things happening at the same time. It is hard to give up control, especially when student safety is a factor. Do students have to go through some sort of training to have open access to the tools and technology available? Are you always overseeing the space, even if you are not actively leading a lesson using the space?ReplyDelete
Hi Nicole. Thanks for the comments. Yes, the space is in a constant state of tension. In our new space, the loud and quiet use are being intentionally separated. This will make the challenge to be to bring the two together. Most of the tools are fairly safe to use or are locked down when not supervised. The nice thing about the current space is that my fishbowl office has a direct view of the entire space.Delete
Marc, it's wonderful to be able to reconnect with you again (was it really 2017 at AASL and the "last" US TM that we saw each other in person?). I am struck when reading your paper that finances do not seem to be an obstacle for your school. (Is it a private one? I only ask because your school had a renovation 10 years ago and is now undergoing another one. We still have the same tiles raising up and needing replacement on our hallway floors from when our school opened in 1981.) You make such a great point when you explain that solving certain problems (e.g. the noise and fumes in the shared space) can lead to new problems (e.g. segregated spaces needing different kinds of supervision). You mention on page 5 that sometimes certain machines will fade in and out of fashion - how can you encourage reluctant purse-string holders to spend the money when there is no guarantee (and is, in fact, as you say, just "to be expected") that they will be used a few years in the future? I love how you were willing to take the lead on the STEM initiative at your school despite not being necessarily the "math type" or "science type" - you are the "learning type" and "innovative type" so it fits!ReplyDelete
Great to connect again, Diana. Yes, I am in an independent school with more opportunities financially. Having said that, the school chose to renovate a couple of spaces in anticipation of the building of a new school. We were interested in testing some ideas before making major design decisions. While I think that certain machines or types of making do go in and out of fashion, new machines can also inspire new ideas and new ways of making. Our new laser cutter was replacing a much cheaper machine. We’d proven that it would be put to use and the new machine is already being used more and in new ways.Delete
Your interview with me for alivelibrary.info about your paper was posted on Facebook and received a rave review by none other than Leslie Maniotes. I encourage everyone to go to the technology room of alivelibrary.info and listen. Kudos kudos, kudos.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing your journey Marc.ReplyDelete
We have had a lot of interest in 3D printers from TLs in our district, but our health and safety requirements mean they need to be contained with good ventilation and extraction, so for the most part these haven't come to schools because of this. Reading your issues with the disruption I can tell it would have been hard in my high school library space too. However, the thought struck me as I read that maybe the solution is not to have them in schools. We have a district laminating service. Could we not set up a 3D print shop in a similar way and schools pay for print time? I'm not sure if it would work, but it reduces the complexity on repair by centralizing it, we have a ventilated room already set up. It would, at least, be a possibility to discuss.
I think that the machines need to be in the schools and visible, Joseph. While a 3D printer is automated, being able to see your creation come to life is both educational and exciting. You learn so much about the technology by watching it fail. Yes, in areas with poor ventilation, 3D printing can be problematic, but there are enclosed printers with air filtration to at least mitigate those issues.ReplyDelete