Book Review – The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win!
Loertscher, D. V., Koechlin, C., Zwaan, S., Rosenfeld, E. (2011). The new learning commons: Where learners win!: Reinventing school libraries and computer labs (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City, UT: Hi Willow Research & Publishing.
Loertscher, Koechlin, Zwaan and Rosenfeld present a detailed treatise on the whats and whys of the Learning Commons model. If you’re not sure what a Learning Commons is, you’re not alone. The simplest explanation is that it is the meeting of the school library and the computer lab that, when put together, exceed the sum of the parts. But that explanation doesn’t really do it justice. Think of a central area of the school that is the hub of learning in the school. It is a place where ALL learners, students and adults, meet to build knowledge. The library is an integral part of the space, but the focus is more on the knowledge than the book collection. Technology is ubiquitous in the space, but computers don’t dominate it. The focus is on what is created with the resources, not the resources themselves.
But like my explanation of the Learning Commons, the book is much more than it seems. It is as much a justification and explanation of the model as it is a jumping off point for further learning. Some of the greatest value is in the links to web sites, videos, and books on topics of pedagogy, curriculum, instructional design, and pretty much any other current educational thought that relates to the Learning Commons. One word of warning, however, I would highly recommend purchasing this title for the links alone. With the book, you get an access code to the digital version of the book that includes hyperlinks to all of the resources. If you find yourself typing the youtube urls, you’ll be wishing you’d spent the cash! The online version also allows for updates and comments to keep the book current and relevant. My understanding is that much of the current edition of the book comes from the online version of the first edition.
Other the concepts that are particular favourites of mine include the envisioning of the Learning Commons as a client-side organization and the relationship between the Learning Commons and Personal Learning Environments. No amount of explanation will really do this book justice. If you are interested in the future of libraries in education, or education in general, I highly recommend that you check out this book.