Please Talk in the Library: Redesigning Public Spaces for Collaborative Learning

Please Talk in the Library: Redesigning Public Spaces for Collaborative Learning

Project Summary:

Tools used in development: Google Slides, Adobe Premiere Pro

Time in development: About six months

Client: Austin Design Week

Project Summary: I was curious about how the educational theory of constructivism might be applied to help rethink the layout of libraries. To this end, I submitted the below abstract to the organizers of Austin Design Week 2018:

In any community, few institutions offer more open doors than a library. With physical spaces open to the public and internet-enabled computers that grant access to a world of information, libraries hold incredible promise in the digital age. Join us to learn the design elements that many libraries are incorporating to transform the stacks into open learning environments that people of various ages, abilities and backgrounds can use to collaborate on ideas and develop relevant, 21st-century skills.

In this hands-on workshop, we’ll present attendees with a drawing of a library, along with characteristics of the community it serves. In small groups, attendees will brainstorm learning design interventions that could help transform this space into an environment that facilitates skills development and collaboration.

After this activity, we will present research-based learning design interventions that could be applied to this space, and we will show how these same concepts could also apply to other types of community spaces, such as corporate training areas. Finally, we will present examples of real organizations that have incorporated these concepts into open, collaborative spaces and the learning outcomes they have achieved.

Attendees will leave the workshop with a clear understanding of key learning design principles and their applications. We will also provide a one-page handout with notes and takeaways from the workshop.

Solution Journey:

After the abstract was accepted by the conference organizers, I approached Jennifer Follen about working on the project together. Over several months, we co-developed the session drawing on Jennifer’s library science background as well as my interest in learning science.

The workshop was attended by approximately 20 people, and it included a real-life design challenge: Working in groups, attendees worked to suggest improvements to a branch of the Austin Public Library.  To answer questions and provide context, the branch manager was in attendance.

The workshop resulted in real-life suggestions for improving the library and attendees left with a handout for use when applying learning concepts to future work in libraries.

Event Photos: