How do I create a Learning Commons?

How do I create a Learning Commons?

Converting our Library into a thriving Learning Commons: What are the spaces I need to include when creating my Learning Commons? 

Firstly, what is a Learning Commons? The Learning Commons is the hub and the heart of the school; a place for teachers and students to collaborate and build inquiry learning and critical thinking skills, a place that is 'owned by students of all ages and staff alike. 

"A Learning Commons is 'a learning space' that is both physical and virtual', a place to experiment, practice, celebrate, learn, work and play." - Keechlin, Rosenfeld and Loerttscher

Learning Commons space recently completed at Holy Cross High School in Kingston, ON.

In order to create spaces which are suited to meet all of our learner's needs and areas to be able to complete a variety of tasks, we use the Caves, Campfires and Watering Holes metaphor. 

Here's what I mean: 


Here you: come together to exchange ideas and cross-pollinate

Think: a student learning programming and a student learning to dance sharing ideas about the creative process while having a drink


Here you: celebrate and share your learning 'one to many'. You 'sing it from the mountaintop'.

Think: showing to the rest of your class a summary of your science project findings


Here you: play, prototype and experiment without worrying about mess, water or damaging surfaces.

Think: testing your bridge design to see if it can support the weight of a toy car.


Here you: withdraw from the noise of the classroom to be alone with your thoughts and reflection. A place to explore questions and make connections.

Think: a beanbag enclosed by bookshelves.


Here you: share stories, exchange ideas and allow the group to build on each others' ideas.

Think: a group brainstorming ways to advertise their product to the community.


To learn how to design an inclusive Learning Commons in your school today, please contact us at: or 1-800-665-9378.

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