Thoughts on Open Air Learning Environments

When I was growing up, my idea of a library was what you might see in an old black and white movie: Sit down, be quiet, and for the sake of everyone around you, don’t ask any questions. Fortunately, my college library defied this notion, instead structuring itself in a manner that promotes collaborative learning.

Upon entering the library for the first time I did not see mounds of books and people working quietly — although both of those scenarios played out on higher floors). Instead, I saw clusters of open tables with individuals mingling in small groups, speaking freely, and actively collaborating.

Classroom Image

I later learned that the Academic Commons at Goddard Library at Clark University was constructed intentionally to encourage group learning and problem solving, and to facilitate effective communication and information exchange. These are just a few characteristics that are becoming increasingly more valued in today’s workplace.

The whole design of the library and the way I was encouraged to learn in that environment offered me an entirely new understanding of knowledge. The Cornell Center For Teaching Excellence says it more beautifully than I can: “Knowledge is a social construct.”

From my first day at Eagle Rock the idea that knowledge is a social construct, and should therefore be Continue reading…