Creating a Vibrant Virtual Learning Space

The new vision of the learning commons sets the library as a hub of activity in the school - a magnet for a range of teaching professionals to connect with students and to extend their own professional learning and practice. The teacher-librarian is a facilitator in this setting, coaching other professionals, connecting them with each other and with resources. The library's virtual space can be as much of a hub as the physical space, where resources, technology, user-focused design and innovative teaching practices mingle to empower learners.

Brooks Kirkland (2009). The Virtual Library as a Learning Hub. School Libraries in Canada
The Virtual Learning Commons (VLC), as it replaces the traditional library website, is a place where everyone is building, experimenting, learning, and exhibiting. From the front page the doors open to the best online resources, databases, tools and tutorials assembled collaboratively by the teacher-librarian, other teachers and students to support all learners in all disciplines. But the true value of the VLC lies in the development and implementation of real world projects and high think assignments that make use of collaborative virtual spaces to deepen understanding and develop new literacies.

Ponder the Possibilities...
  • How do we create what David Loertcher calls a virtual giant conversation about teaching and learning? 
  • What do our students need?
  • What do our teachers need?
  • Who else will benefit from a Virtual Learning Commons?
  • How can the VLC advance 21st century teaching and learning?
  • How can the VLC contribute to school improvement?

Ideas for Creating and Sustaining a Vibrant Virtual Learning Commons

Ideas   Examples & Resources
  • See your library website as an extension of the physical library and the library program. Keep it current, vibrant, and most of all, visible, on your school's website and beyond.
  The School Library Learning Commons: Are We "Virtually" There?

School Library Websites: The Bricks and Mortar of the Virtual Library Space
  • Learn and use free and easy-to-use online website editors like Google Sites or free wiki editors like PBworks or Wikispaces to build your website and online collaborative spaces. Use website services and training offered by your school district.
  Google Sites Overview
PBworks for Education
Wikispaces for teachers
  • Build interactive online Knowledge-Building Centres for collaborative student inquiry units with ready-to-use templates based on the Together for Learning Discovery and Guided Inquiry model.
  Knowledge-Building Centres
Titanic Inquiry: A Model KBC
  • Build a system-wide library website and virtual learning centre so that all schools have access to the library's resources and virtual learning spaces. Leverage the expertise of the professional community of teacher-librarians and other library professionals in the district to build depth of content.
  Some Ontario school district-wide websites:
TDSB Virtual Library - Elementary
TDSB Virtual Library - Secondary
WRDSB Library Learning Commons
DDSB Learning Commons
  • Connect your implementation of the virtual learning commons with school success planning.
  The Virtual Learning Commons and School Improvement. Teacher Librarian, October 2012
  • Explore concepts of the virtual learning commons and tips for making it happen in the new publication, The Virtual Learning Commons, by David Loertscher, Carol Koechlin and Esther Rosenfeld.
 Available at the OLA Store
  • Bring content in to your virtual learning commons with embedded widgets rather than sending people away from your space with traditional links.
  Lisgar Collegiate Institute Library Website
  • Create short, informative video lessons to empower learner independence in the library learning commons. Make these videos available 24/7 from your library website, available when and where every learner needs them. Use the instructional time you have freed up for deeper collaborative learning.
  Flip Your Library Orientation!

  Use the Leading Learning standard, Designing Learning Environments to Support Participatory Learning to plan strategically for the transformation to a learning commons approach.