March 16, 2016

ISE Learning Commons at CEESA Conference

I am very excited of the opportunity to introduce our Learning Commons at CEESA Conference, Istanbul Turkey.

Our MYP/DP Art teacher Edna Vahter and I introduce the development of learning spaces at International School of Estonia that allow creative personalized and collaborative conceptions for students and teachers. Our example is the development of our library into a Learning Commons. During the workshop, participants have an opportunity to reflect, design and create their own visions about 21st century`s study areas using a variety of tools and/or materials.

The changes in society, advances in technology and globalization of ‘everything’ are the characteristics of our daily life. Nowhere is change more evident than in the field of libraries. Viewing this transformation as an opportunity participants will follow the story of ISE Learning Commons - how the library, art/design room, hallway nooks and corners evolved into both personalized and collaborative learning space that are ‘owned’ by students and staff alike. Learning Commons approach takes the school library into the 21st century supporting IB pedagogy of inquiry, action and reflection; critical thinking skills in students and offering a place for creation, integration and experimentation. Partakers will join our journey and experience how collaboration between library and art spaces, and teachers can support every student's voice in a school environment. Workshop members have an opportunity to create and reflect their own visions of contemporary study areas building on the ISE experience and the common knowledge gained from the group discussions. 

The format for the presentations is as exciting - a Learning Innovated unConference - where participants set the agenda at the beginning of the day and explore topics that are highly relevant and important to them in an extremely collaborative and participatory environment.

The host Joe Barder explains While there are no “typical” unConferences, there are few things that lend structure to this highly flexible format. First, everyone attending comes with the idea of sharing in mind (i.e. an issue you’re struggling with, a teaching technique/strategy, etc.) in a short “mini-workshop” setting. Second, that everyone attending is responsible for their own experience - if you feel you are in the wrong “mini-workshop” you can go to another one that you thought you might be interested in (this is known in unConferences as the “law of 2 feet”). And finally, that breaking off from the agenda set at the beginning to pursue an interesting idea/thought with another participant or on your own is encouraged. 

This last piece is by far the most rewarding part of the unConference. Indeed, the very notion behind unConferences was that the most stimulating conversations generally take place over coffee breaks when participants can interact with each other and discuss various topics, including their own professional interests. As one unConference attendee/organizer puts it: “So much of life and work is overly structured that it doesn’t give us, or our ideas, the room to run and grow freely. By contrast, the unstructured, high-energy environment of the unConference amplifies ideas.”

Visit Learning Innovated website for further information. 

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