Queen's Learning Commons


Learning Commons

site header

Thursday, June 17, 2010

8:30 AM - 12:00PM

Location - Douglas North Reading Room (1966 Reading Room), 3rd floor of the Douglas Library

8:30 AM– 9:00 AM       Breakfast 
9:00 AM – 9:20 AM     Welcome - Dr. Michael Condra  / Introductory Remarks  - Nathalie Soini

9:20 AM – 10:30 AM     Keynote Session: Learning Commons Café      

PRESENTERS: Martha Whitehead, Queen’s University and Margot Bell, University of British Columbia

CONVENOR: Nathalie Soini, Learning Commons Coordinator & Learning and Research Services, Queen's University.

To determine “What’s Next” in the learning commons journey, we need to grapple with some fundamental questions:  How does the vision of ‘learning commons/centre’ complement or diverge from the vision of ‘discipline-specific,’ academic programs embedded in the curriculum?  Are there ways we could better leverage each?  What opportunities and challenges will arise from expanding interdisciplinary studies?  Which works best under which circumstances: a centralized model or a distributed faculty/course focussed model?  What is the most effective model to spur students’ growth from passively absorbing knowledge to actively analyzing, creating and applying knowledge?  In this session, the collective intelligence of participants will be tapped to answer these important questions.  The facilitators will lead off the discussion with observations based on their own experiences, from the development of a learning commons 10 years ago through many different campus teaching and learning initiatives.  The results of the session will be compiled and shared on the conference website.

10:30 AM – 11:00 AM   Break

11:00 AM – 11:30 AM    Embedded Services Revisited 
PRESENTER: Joannah O’Hatnick, University of Guelph  
CONVENOR: Sylvia Andrychuk, Learning and Research Services, Stauffer Library, Queen's University

Among professionals providing academic support services within a postsecondary context, the model of supplemental, integrated, and embedded services (Schmidt & Kaufman, 2007; Queensland University of Technology Library, n.d.) has worked as a framework for designing and planning programs.  Supplemental programs tend to be generic programs serving a wide population of students; integrated programs are designed for a more specific cohort of students; and embedded services are seen as collaborations with faculty to build academic support into a course or curriculum.  Examples of embedded services include the integration of Learning Commons professionals into a course as invited guest lecturers or perhaps as advisors to the faculty on designing writing assignments.

In this model, embedded services within a course or sequence of courses and in collaboration with faculty members are often perceived as the ideal form of service delivery.  However, as academic support providers, we know that authentic learning can take place outside the classroom and may not always be linked to a particular course or curriculum (Cunsolo Willox & Lackeyram, 2009).  Given the complexity of student learning both in and out of the classroom, it is time to revisit our conception of embedded services.  Are embedded services the ideal to which we strive?  Should we redefine or expand our definition of embedded services?  In this presentation, I plan to put forth examples of academic support programming which suggest that we should re-examine our definition of embedded services and their role within the framework of service delivery.  

11:30am – 12:00pm      Learning Commons Online: Lessons Learned from Proposal to Launch 

PRESENTERS: Dr. Patricia Maher and Nancy Cunningham, University of South Florida, Tampa 
CONVENOR: Sylvia Andrychuk, Learning and Research Services, Stauffer Library, Queen's University

For many years the USF Tampa campus was not focused on undergraduate student academic success.  More recent emphasis on retention and graduation rates has energized many positive changes in services for students. The Learning Commons was an aggressive project that successfully accomplished the long-standing goal to consolidate student learning support on campus.  After only one year in operation, alongside an expanding range of online course offerings, Learning Commons' leaders recognized the need to significantly expand student access to learning support beyond the physical spaces and available hours of the Library setting.  Presenters will share the journey of the development of the Learning Commons Online, including the process of building support from both students and administration, identifying funding, developing initial services, to launching the new USF Learning Commons Online in less than one year.  The presenters will offer their reflective observations about aspects that lead to success such as creative use of funding resources and developing the most effective collaborative partners.  


12:00 – 1:30pm    Lunch  

Poster Sessions  (1:00-1:30)  

The Learning Commons as Process:  Change and Evolution of Vision and Service 
 Gail Wood and Anita Kuiken 
Memorial Library, SUNY Cortland

Memorial Library at SUNY Cortland has had a Learning Commons in place since 2005.  In the beginning, the focus was on the Learning Commons as place and presence along with a vision of service; as a place with an array of offices and services in a comfortable setting working together in partnership to provide good, focused service.  The services integrate technology and information fluency in energetic and responsive ways.  The focus was on creating a space where faculty and students could interact both socially and intellectually while finding the services they needed in one location.

As the partnerships have changed and evolved, change and adaptation has become a key response to providing dynamic services.  Rather than the Learning Commons becoming a place, destination, or a static service, the library and its partners continues to find ways to respond to new and changing partnerships, to changes in user needs, and to changes in the culture of the campus we serve.  The Learning Commons constantly creates and recreates itself in response to the fluctuations and rhythms of user and culture.

Creating and recreating a Commons is not particularly easy or clean cut.  Budget, personnel, personalities, and conflicting ideas and priorities often require nuanced and diplomatic responses.   We will discuss this messy, active and evolving process with examples from the Learning Commons experiences at Memorial Library of SUNY Cortland in Cortland, NY.

Students engaging with students:  sharing, learning, discovering 
PRESENTERS: Dr. Vicki Remenda, Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, Jackie Druery, Learning & Research Services, Stauffer Library and 
Dr. Susan Wilcox, Gender Studies 

Queen's University

The first university wide Inquiry@Queen’s Undergraduate Research Conference was held in March 2007. March 2010 will mark the fourth annual conference. This initiative begins with students and involves students, inviting them to share the benefits of inquiry learning and their research discoveries with their peers, professors and other members of the community at Queen’s and beyond.

This poster will outline practical ways in which you can incorporate the I@Q Conference into your teaching and make it part of your assessment. The benefits to your students are many. As participants they can experience all aspects of an academic conference from writing an abstract, developing and delivering a presentation to answering questions.  They will learn what it means to share their research in an academic environment. As an audience member they can engage with research conducted by their academic peers, ask questions, network and discuss. Student participants provide much enthusiastic feedback “Inquiry@Queen’s is better than YouTube” and “presenting at I@Q was the best experience of my academic career” and “I've listed this on my grad applications…and it actually came up in a few of my grad school interviews too! I was certainly happy in my first grad conference presentation to have spoken in an academic context before - it's a great program and I hope it continues”.

1:30 – 3:00pm Concurrent Session #1: Partnerships: Reaching High, Reaching Out

CONVENOR: Mary Claire Vandenburg, Learning and Research Services, Stauffer Library, Queen's University

1:30 – 2:00 pm    Getting on the Syllabus: Commons Programming with Individual Faculty 
PRESENTER: Charlie Bennett, Georgia Tech 

The most successful programming in the Commons at the Georgia Tech Library developed out of collaborations between faculty members and the library.  Events, exhibits, and installations based on faculty research and their students’ learning can establish relationships that develop the Commons and expand the Library’s presence on campus.  This presentation includes examples of commons programming in collaboration with Georgia Tech faculty (The Thoreau Project, A History of the Mad Housers, and Walden Remediated) and strategies for developing faculty/library programming.

2:00 – 2:30pm    Student Association & Learning Commons: A Unique and Fruitful Collaboration 

British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Learning Commons, built on a collaborative model to link complementary BCIT services, has been carefully customized to dovetail with BCIT’s unique learning environment.  Our strategic positioning as a highly collaborative model has paid off in many ways.  What has turned out to be one of our most enduring and productive partnerships is our work with BCIT Student Association on delivery of a comprehensive Peer Tutoring program for students. The Learning Commons offers the drop-in component of peer tutoring; the Student Association offers one-to-one.   Kathy Musial, BCIT’s Learning Commons Coordinator will describe the genesis of this partnership and its progression to a point where we engage in a joint recruitment and hiring process, share our learning spaces, and continually refer students to each other.   Working together to develop a seamless program has presented many challenges to surmount and has also provided tremendous benefits to the BCIT learning community.

2:30 – 3:00pm    Tragedy Averted: the multidisciplinary use of a Learning Commons 
PRESENTER: Erin DeLathouwer, University of Saskatchewan 

The University of Saskatchewan’s Learning Commons grand opening was inaugurated with a multidisciplinary panel discussion focused on how a Learning Commons might avoid the “Tragedy of the Commons”.  The tragedy of the commons highlights a paradox: while individuals using a common space may tend to behave in ways that maximize personal convenience or comfort, the common good may be threatened with such individualistic behaviour.  Sustaining a commons that is a comfortable place for all its occupants involves some level of personal commitment to group norms. The Learning Commons, therefore, must be defined with both sustainability and individual needs in mind. 

Our inaugural panel featured a wide range of perspectives (Architect, Historian, Educator, Librarian, and Student Peer Mentor). Each offered their unique perspectives on how our values moderate the use of a common space, and how our notions of collaboration and sustainability contribute to the creation of common spaces. The event set a precedent for use of our Learning Commons as a venue for multidisciplinary discussion and debate. In addition to accommodating a wide range of services, the Learning Commons aspires to accommodate the intellectual growth of an entire community. We have hosted public multidisciplinary panel discussions on topics such as pandemics and poverty, mad pride, climate change, and artificial intelligence. Our invited panelists span the disciplines, drawing connections between our diverse faculties, and the audiences are often composed of a wide range of students and staff.

This presentation will examine the role that multidisciplinary panel discussions have in defining the boundaries of a Learning Commons, and how the emphasis on a collaborative approach to learning can widen the space we work within such that the tragedy of the commons can be averted.

1:30 – 3:00pm Concurrent Session #2: Next is Now! Service and Teaching Delivery Models

CONVENOR: Linda Williams, Learning Strategies Development, Queen's University

1:30 – 2pm Students engaging with students: showcasing undergraduate research in the Queen’s Learning Commons 
PRESENTERS: Jackie Druery, Vicki Remenda, and Susan Wilcox, Queen's University 

The first university-wide Inquiry@Queen’s Annual Undergraduate Research Conference was held in the Queen’s Learning Commons (QLC) in March 2007. Now in its fourth year, this initiative begins with students and involves students, inviting them to share the benefits of inquiry-based learning and their research discoveries with their peers, professors and other members of the Queen’s community and beyond. The conference is hosted by the QLC but is organized by a committee, led by a faculty member and consisting of faculty, representatives of the QLC partners, the Centre for Teaching and Learning, students, library staff and other interested parties. The Conference is one program of a larger initiative called Inquiry@Queen’s which supports and encourages the development of inquiry-based learning initiatives across the disciplines.

The benefits of participating in the conference for students are many. As participants they experience all aspects of an academic conference and they learn what it means to share their research in an academic environment. As an audience member they can engage with research that was conducted by their academic peers, ask questions, network and discuss. The conference raises the visibility of the QLC with faculty and university administrators, it brings together the QLC partners in a collaborative effort and it fits perfectly with the QLC goal of providing a collaborative space where students can engage both academically and socially.

This presentation will discuss how the conference was conceived and implemented, how it is pedagogically and financially supported, as well as outlining the logistics of organization, financing and implementation. It will also discuss ideas for future development including ways to ensure long term sustainability.

2:00 – 2:30pm    RE:search: Online Learning Modules Developed via Collaboration and Community-Building 
PRESENTERS: Julie Hannaford and Sheril Hook, University of Toronto 

To engage students in understanding the complex world of information, the University of Toronto library is leading the development of a modifiable, collaborative online learning resource known as RE:search. The system allows authors (instructors, librarians, course assistants) to add content to any of the five modules in order to address the research needs of their students, for specific class requirements (http://webapps-beta.utsc.utoronto.ca/itcdf/start.php). Each module focuses on skill development, such as building an effective research question, identifying appropriate sources, creating effective search strategies and evaluating and integrating sources. The tool provides a flexible learning environment, allowing students to start at the level they feel most appropriate and to continue at a level for as long as they determine necessary. Each module has three levels, which become increasingly complex and interactive. This allows students to build on their knowledge as they progress through the levels.

The session will showcase this ongoing cross-campus project at the University of Toronto to create a community-driven tool. Librarians have collaborated closely with students and faculty as the project has progressed. In the session, speakers will discuss the impetus, philosophy and actualization for the learning system, results of early user testing and the assessment (using both qualitative and quantitative measures) undertaken during the Winter, 2010 term at all three campuses at the University of Toronto.

2:30 – 3:00pm       Next is Now! 
PRESENTERS: Vivienne Monty and Sarah Coysh, York University 

At York University, the design of a learning commons began with the standard model as in most places but has evolved into a modular one. Modular models allow a learning commons to respond to advances in technology and changes in philosophy quickly so that Bennet’s concept does not have to be re-designed every few years due to change and shifting needs. This is an area where librarians can take a central and leading role as people who understand the constructs of knowledge and also know about database structures.

A physical model of the learning commons tends to be somewhat static but our online model has been expressly created to be evolutionary. It is constructed so that adding to it is easy as is changing it. Different media can be integrated effortlessly.  The people who design and create the modules in this online presence are also meant to be modular in the same fashion. The team is constantly changing as per requirements. Librarians, however, provide the backbone as designers and administrators.

The first iteration of the online learning commons set down key concepts of learning as a foundation. The site was then populated with materials that were already available for the most part to gain an immediate presence and use for students. 

Currently, in phase two, we are constructing interactive modules. As each section develops either the interactivity or the way a module is built is dependant on the nature of the need, students’ feedback and so on.

3:00pm – 3:30pm    Break

3:30pm – 5:00pm Concurrent Session #3: Architecture & Design: The Shape of Things to Come

Convenor: Michele Chittenden, Library Services for Students with Disabilities & Learning and Research Services, Queen's University

3:30pm - 4:00pm    Back to the Future:  Unbundling the Library and Learning Commons at Mohawk College 
PRESENTER: Jo-Anne Westerby, Mohawk College 

With a new Library and Learning Commons set to open January 2011, Mohawk College took the opportunity to rethink the future.   With sustainability as a College strategic priority, the new “not-so-big” Library and Learning Commons will act as an anchor store on Main Street – the new shopping, meeting, and business strip that bisects and unites our sprawling campus.  Neighbourhood Learning Commons Hubs will be distributed within the classroom clusters and corridors across the campus.  
Our new paradigm will transform our learning landscape.  We will maintain and grow current partnerships, collaborations and synergies, but in an unbundled or distributed model.  We will be where our students are. The new learning landscape model will dramatically enable our ability to integrate collaborative learning initiatives into our campus renewal projects.  Students will finally gain the space, technology, equipment, support and collaborations they need for the Discover/Inquire/Explore/Learn/ Create continuum.    

4:00pm – 4:30pm    The Win-Win Collaboration of Design programs and the Library: how we managed to transform 30,000 square feet of space for very little money. 
PRESENTER:Lesley Pease, Syracuse University 

We needed design advice. They needed to solve real-life design problems and, ideally, have a place to display their work. We had walls painted an institutional beige and tired, creaky furniture. They had environmentally conscious and creative ideas for repurposing said furniture and making those walls come alive with color. Our collaboration started last year and resulted in exciting changes to library spaces and many opportunities for students to showcase their work in a well-traveled location. It also resulted in many students coming in to the library who had never been there before.  

Our Library’s Learning Commons is an intensely busy space, with gate counts of up to 10,000/day. We’ve been able to move forward with selected projects on two of our three floors, even though the financial environment forced us to pause formal progress on our building master plan. However, the fact that we had a master plan meant we could continue forward movement, which we have done in smaller steps, making use of the resources and talent we already had in the university. 

Learn how movement on improving spaces can continue, even without much money, through campus collaborations such as ours with the design students and faculty. There will be many images (e.g. before and after photographs) to illustrate the benefits of working together and prioritizing sustainability.

4:30pm – 5:00pm     It’s Just Plain Commons Sense: Grounding Space Planning in Evidence-Based Research 
PRESENTER: Melanie Mills, The University of Western Ontario 

The Graduate Resource Centre (GRC) at The University of Western Ontario (Western) is a special library independently operated by the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS). Exclusively serving the communities of FIMS four graduate programs – Journalism, Media Studies, Library and Information Science and Popular Music and Culture – the GRC has a well-established and longstanding tradition of supporting teaching and learning excellence at FIMS. 

As Western’s youngest and fastest growing Faculty, FIMS quickly outgrew its existing space on campus. Plans to relocate the entire Faculty, including its in-house library and information centre, are now underway. The University has earmarked a much larger building on campus for FIMS and the Faculty is now next in line for new space. 
With this pending move on the horizon comes an opportunity for the Faculty to reconsider not only the physical design of the GRC, but also its existing service model. Is a learning commons a possibility? A Faculty-wide needs assessment to be conducted in the Winter 2010 academic term will help determine the answer.

In this session, conference delegates will hear about the forming stages of planning FIMS’ new library and information facility as the GRC sets out this exciting journey. Attendees will hear about the collaborative approach used to ground decision making in evidence-based research, where students in all three sections of a mandatory LIS research methods course responded to a request for proposals from the GRC. Methodologies adopted for the needs assessment, as well as preliminary research results, will also be shared.

3:30pm – 5:00pm Concurrent Session #4: Extending the Commons: Service Delivery Models

CONVENOR: Dr. Doug Babington, The Writing Centre, Queen's University 

3:30pm – 4:00pm   Computer Use Patterns in Information Commons and Academic Libraries: Divergent Needs and Fast Changing Demands 
PRESENTER:Peter Webster, Saint Mary’s University 

This session will look at how computers are being used in academic libraries.  It will look at changing usage patterns between desktop computers, notebooks and smart phones.  It will consider the mix between purely academic uses, social networking and other activities.  We will consider the role of text messaging, facebook, and email, along with academic writing and online research.  We will discuss findings on computer use at  Saint Mary’s University’s, but also look at trends across Canada and the United States, with a focus on understanding future computer needs

4:00pm – 4:30pm    The Learning Commons Goes to School with the Dirty Dozen 
PRESENTER: Dale Lackeyram, University of Guelph 

For a graduate student, the development of proficiencies in research, writing, presenting, managing and analyzing data (and other supporting academic skills and literacies) ebbs and flows with the immediate requirements of their programs. Skill development is often dictated by the immediate learning objectives that the student needs to master and thus focuses on getting by with minimal time investment. Many graduate programs have implemented seminar-type courses to expose students to the aforementioned skills and literacies. However these are usually led by faculty within the department who quite often choose to focus only on program content-specific needs. Quite frequently the task of leading this type of course is rotated among faculty members and results in variability in the meeting times, instruction quality and learning objectives. 

The Library Learning Commons at the University of Guelph mobilizes a talented group of librarians and professional staff who are sometimes individually tapped to provide support and embed instruction to graduate students in specific programs. At the core of the wealth of support and services that are provided within the Learning Commons is the inextricable subset of transferable skills. Given the current inconsistencies in graduate student development pedagogy, the availability of structured meeting time in seminar-type courses, and our ability to embed academic support skills within course content, we developed the Learning Commons Graduate Program Curriculum. 
This session will explore the programmatic skill components of this curriculum and demonstrate the flexible ability to embed this curriculum utilizing a variety of content from multiple graduate programs.

4:30pm – 5:00pm     Knowledge Building Centers 
PRESENTERS: Dr. David Loertscher and Carol Koechlin 

Collaboration between librarians and instructors has been an elusive and largely unfulfilled goal of the library community for decades. Professors make assignments independent of librarians, yet expect the librarians to support whatever the assignment requires of the students. Now, in the world of Web 2.0, the tools exist to create what we call knowledge building centers where former assignments that were one-way directives are turned into collaborative conversations between the instructor, the librarian, the students, and any other expert working on the learning experience. The speakers will demonstrate templates in various Web 2.0 technologies that make collaboration the normal response for a proposed project – a natural site where everyone is participating, contributing, discussing, creating, thinking, and producing together.