FHN Learning Common’s Renovation

By Emily Hampson

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Students in the Learning Commons.

If the Learning Commons looks emptier, it’s because more than 100 boxes of outdated nonfiction books, along with the shelves in which they were stocked, have been removed. The removal of so many books allows the Learning Commons to proceed with a renovation plan to add newer, more popular fiction books to the shelves. Along with that, the Learning Commons will also promote a shift from the use of obsolete nonfiction books to more accurate online research.

“It’s easier, it’s faster, and it’s current,” Willen said. “We don’t buy new nonfiction books every single year, so if that information just changed and there are new developments with medical research or whatever, if I do my research online, it’s going to reflect that, whereas the books–unless you buy all new nonfiction every year–there is a lot of it that will change and will not be current.”

With new space available due to the removal of 10 bookshelves, Learning Commons Media Specialists Tara Willen and Angie Davis hope to set up a media production/collaborative area for students to do projects and group work while having access to the necessary technology.

“I’m excited to see that space being used in a different way,” Willen said. “We have not had a space yet that easily accommodates group work and collaborative work, so I’m really excited to see that taking place.”

Along with the new layout, there will be a Smart TV added above the fireplace that will be set to show announcements. This will sit alongside the current TV already above the fireplace which is used to watch the news. In addition to the TV, a green screen, three iMacs, and more iPads have been ordered for the students’ use.

“We’re moving to a multimedia format instead of just print,” Davis said. “The goal is to make all of our spaces flexible, to be used for any purpose.”

In order to use an iPad, students are required to show their ID and iPads will not be allowed to leave the Learning Commons for student use elsewhere; however, that rule might change in the future.

“We are going to continue to evolve with the needs of our learners,” Davis said.

Changes are being made to improve the Learning Commons in schools across the District. In order to use the new technology to the best of its ability, Learning Commons Media Specialists have been attending classes once a month where they learn how to properly use the technology.

“It’s not even staying up to date, it’s more progressive than that,” Willen said. “I really feel like we’re kind of ahead of the game by transforming into Learning Commons and being more 21st-century.”