The Physical Learning Commons

Where do we start? ........What's Important?

 Designing Physical Spaces for Participatory Learning
  • Flexibility (furniture and schedule)
  • Wireless
  • Networking places and spaces
  • Productivity spaces and tools
  • Comfortable and stimulating
  • Books and resources kids want and need
  • Books and computers don’t get in the way
  • Equitable access
  • Celebration of learning
  • Exemplary learning experiences – relevant and real world
  • Individual, small groups, large group
  • A Cultural center – Listening Lunches
  • Centre for Professional Learning Teams

Designing Physical Spaces for Participatory Learning

Take a free QuickMOO at:

During this experience you will be able to:

  • Chart your own path through this learning experience.
  • Get a quick overview of what a physical learning commons is and its changed function from a traditional school library and computer lab.
  • Develop questions you’d like to explore.
  • Visit the Gallery where there are lots of topical modules for you to explore, discuss, and contribute your own ideas. Each module contains articles, videos, and references so you can sample what you’d like.
  • At any time, you can visit the site blog for longer conversations with the author and others participating in this PLC QuickMOOC.
  • Having built your own understanding, you can proceed to the Workshop where you can create something yourself or with a group, or, you can exit the PLC QuickMOOC. You can also earn a badge or a certificate of professional development hours.
  • Complete the Big think about this experience.
  • Stay in this community as long as you like.

YouTube Video


Four recent books  have stimulated much thinking by architects as they redesign learning spaces in school and contribute to the acceptance of new ideas  for space in the library learning commons: The Martinez book concentrates on the creation of makerspaces.

  • The Third Teacher by O'Donnell Pigozzi and others, 2019
  • Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration  by Scott Doonley, 2012
  • Blueprint for Tomorrow: Redesigning Schools for Student-Centered Learning by Prakash Nair, 2014.
  • Invent to Learn: Making, Thinking and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Martinez, 2013.

Other Resources

  •  Lots of useful links and examples of transformed learning spaces on this wiki
  • The June 2011 issue of Teacher Librarian featured several articles from architects and furniture dealers on learning commons design and furnishing
  • This video looks at what we know about learning in digital spaces and applies it to physical environments
  • Bringing Design Thinking to the School Library

  • Local Challenge

    Much can be done for very little money by clearing out spaces, weeding collections and removing bookshelves, and enlisting volunteers to help redesign what is happening. Students themselves should be involved in this process. When remodeling and architects brought in, work with the architects on  new learning  spaces in the above resources. They probably are already aware of the trend in different learning space design and just might listen!

    Subpages (1): LIBR233 Workspace