Transition and Change


In the current state of the world, creativity, innovation and imagination play key roles in children’s development. Young people need to learn transferable skills that make them critical consumers of information, effective problem solvers, capable decision makers and exciting innovators. They also require a level of knowledge and a diversity of expression unprecedented in human history.

Currently, many students are finding it difficult to make meaningful connections between what they learn at school and what they need to know outside of school. The Learning Commons has the potential to bridge that gap for students. The Learning Commons can make learning more pertinent, engaging and significant.

This transition will develop differently in each school. It will need to be carefully directed and monitored. Success will depend on the contexts that are set and the commitment of the stakeholders. The process should be inclusive, well planned and measurable. Naturally, schools will experience varying levels of proficiency.


In the transition process certain challenges will arise.

These include:
  • Creating tasks and projects that fuse critical thinking, creativity and inquiry with the new, more flexible methodologies available
  • Embedding creativity, innovation, imagination and risk-taking in the culture of the school
  • Engaging the continually evolving technology, information flow, and changing connectivity
  • Expanding access to information and communication technologies at home and at school
  • Rethinking attitudes towards learning and bringing all people on board

Pedagogical Shifts Inherent in the Learning Commons

 Information Seeking and Reporting
   Individual and Collective Knowledge Creation
 Teacher directed learning
   Self and participatory learning
 Classroom learning
 Networked and global learning
 Standards driven
   Exploring big ideas and concepts
 Teaching    Process and active learning
 Individual teacher expertise
   Collaborative learning partnerships

Tracking the Transformation

Gathering data, analyzing it and communicating ideas within the school and across professional networks will help to guide, facilitate, and assess change. By using the tools of Evidence-Based Practice and Professional Learning Communities, the school will be assisted in transforming into an effective Learning Commons and be provided with evaluation criteria and results.

Ideas to Consider

Evidence-Based Practice

Educators regularly gather, organize and analyze both quantitative and qualitative evidence on how their work impacts student achievement and program success. Analyzing and sharing the following kinds of evidence will help teachers collaborate to achieve professional goals and school improvement.

 Evidence of Learning
 Evidence of Program Success
  • Reflective logs and journals documenting the learning journey
  • Student self assessment data
  • Portfolios of student work over time (physical and digital collections)
  • Project exemplars
  • Notes from conferencing with students
  • Checklists and rubrics
  • Before and after learning records (e.g. brainstorming, mind maps)
  • Anecdotal surveys (e.g., pre and post questionnaires, web-based instruments, attitudinal surveys)
  • Test results (e.g., EQAO, report card data)
  • Student-directed inquiry units implemented across grade levels and disciplines
  • Reflective logs of lessons/units/projects
  • Embedded use of technologies to enhance learning and critical thinking
  • Imagination and creativity evident in curriculum units
  • Learning partnerships integrated across grade levels and disciplines
  • Differentiated learning opportunities are evident
  • Active and ongoing sharing of planning and results in the Learning Commons 

Professional Learning Communities

To create a professional learning community, focus on learning rather than teaching, work collaboratively, and hold yourself accountable for results.

– Dufour, 2004
Professional Learning Communities help schools develop consistent and effective plans for change and improvement. They provide a framework for staff and interested community members to come together to share vision and values, and to tap into collective creativity.

To be successful, all participants must share leadership, power and decision-making. This will support the changes necessary to develop the Learning Commons, and will help meet arising challenges.

Although Professional Learning Communities are created within a school, they may extend beyond its walls, to schools within a board where common experiences are occurring. The power comes from the immediacy of contact and collaboration that takes place as ideas are explored.

Teacher-librarians are active participants, but they can also contribute to the logistical success of Professional Learning Communities. They can:

  • Collaborate with technology teachers/specialists to facilitate the use of technology
  • Engage other specialist teachers who have a broad school outlook
  • Create a physical and virtual professional library collaboratively with all staff
  • Facilitate virtual discussions with experts and other learning communities via Internet or interactive video conference
  • Develop virtual spaces for online discussions and study using Web 2.0 tools
  • Provide cross-curricular and cross-grade connections and model curriculum sharing


Personal Learning Networks

Personal Learning Networks facilitate the gathering of information, ideas and content. They can inform and incite dialogue and connect participants beyond their local areas. Ultimately, these networks can model the very type of learning that is established in the Learning Commons.

A personal...learning network involves an individual's topic-oriented goal, a set of practices and and techniques aimed at attracting and organizing a variety of relevant content sources, selected for their value, to help the owner accomplish a professional goal or personal interest.

– Warlick, 2006

  School Library
School Library Resource Centre
 Learning Commons
 The Future

Physical and
Virtual Space

Shelves dominate the space and cannto be moved. There is little if any virtual presence. The School Library is a place to go to, a room with books and print materials.

Shelves can be moved with some effort. There is a small virtual presence (i.e., a website) but it is not widely utilized. Multimedia texts are available both within the library and online. 

Shelves and furniture can be moved into different configurations in multiple locations. Multiple virtual spaces are widely used. Rich and diverse collection of print, virtual, and multimedia texts are available 24/7.

The communication, information and knowledge revolution is transforming the way we learn. The future of education is in flux. New technologies yet to be shared and new possibilities yet to be imagined suggest that education itself is part of this revolution. 


Classes are scheduled in; library is closed to others during these class periods. Not every class has scheduled access. Collections may lack depth and breadth due to budgetary considerations. 

Some open and flexible time is available in the library during school hours. Classes and individual students have access to the facility and expertise of qualified library staff when needed. Inequity in building collections is still significant. 

Students and staff have access to qualified library staff and resources as needed during and beyond the instructional day. Virtual presence allows access to extend into the home, and is available 24/7. Resources are more equitably available through the vast capability of the world wide web. 


Library staff pulls resources as requested by classroom teachers but there are few, if any, learning partnerships. 

Principals, teachers and teacher-librarians collaborate to plan and implement units of learning. The principles of Partners in Action dominate the school library program.

All members of a school community collaborate to build virtual and physical learning partnerships in the Learning Commons. These partnerships are global, connected, social, cross-curricular and complex. 


Computers are housed separately from the library and rarely part of the inquiry process. 

Some computers are found in the library and their use is limited to functional applications. 

Technology and media are an intrinsic, integrated and seamless part of learning.


Students are taught in unison; learning is only differentiated with special designation of individual students. 

Learning is modified by individual student need, and is directed by the teacher. Everyone explores ideas together and products of learning are assigned.  

Everyone is a learner. Together they are empowered to construct and direct their own learning. Learning is personalized, differentiated and motivating.