As much as a Learning Commons can ever be complete, in the sense that it is always responding to the needs of it’s community, we have completed phase one of our renovations. We opened the doors two weeks ago to a very positive reception from students and teachers alike. They have remarked that they like the open and brighter space and note that there seems to be so much more space, despite the fact that the overall footprint has barely changed and the volume of the space has in fact gone down.
The big changes that we have made include raising the floor in one half of the space to put the entire space on the same level. The bi-level nature of the old library forced a soft partition down the middle of the room that effectively created two separate spaces. This, in addition to ensuring that almost all of the new furniture is easily movable allows us to create spaces that respond to users needs in any direction whether that be North/South or East/West. We have had custom shelving built that fits the restrictions of the structure better and goes higher on the walls. While this has made reaching books on the top shelves a little more difficult for the shorter students, it has allowed us to free up significant floor space.
A variety of furnishings have allowed for different uses responding to different learner needs. Comfortable arm chairs tend to encourage smaller, more social learning while the higher tables and stools are popular with the boys who are doing quick work or simply like sitting up a little higher. Wheeled desk chairs pair up nicely with wheeled flip-top tables and square tables for more traditional work spaces that can me reconfigured almost instantly. We have been able to accomodate personal technology through multiple wifi drops and power outlets in many of the tables. We also have a class set of laptops that are available for student use throughout the day.
We have added a small media lab with a green-wall for green screen video recording that is equipped with a computer, monitor, mics and a camera. This space compliments our more advanced offerings in video production by providing a space where basic audio and video production can be done by all students for use in any of their courses. 3D printing is also now available in our learning commons as a way for students to realize their design concepts in a tangible manner.