Schools Embracing Digital World

Melissa Schilz, Postmedia News | February 7, 2018

Brigden Public School officially launched their newly named Learning Commons with Makerspace in conjunction with their community library last Thursday.

The space long known as the library has evolved to include new technological resources, including tablets and a 3D printer owned by the library.

Learning Commons Coach Melissa Holmes said they started working on the project in September 2017, building a vision and securing funding for upgrades.

“It’s an evolving space, so things come and go,” she said. “It’s a shared space with the county library…so it’s a good thing because they’ve contributed also to our resources.”

A Parents Reaching Out Grant brought in $1000, while a Scholastic Book Fair raised $2500 for the project. Principal Chad Brown said the total cost came to about $5000.

And the resources aren’t only a perk for the students, but the whole community. Brown said because the space is shared, anyone can come to use the tools on site, but it’s not just about the technology.

“It’s more about the space than the technology, we get classes using the space throughout the day,” he said. “There’s group collaboration.”

There’s also some benefits for parents, including online tutors that offer homework help for both students and parents. Brown said it also makes coming to school more fun for the kids.

“The kids are excited, they want to come to school,” Brown said.

Holmes said it’s been a school board initiative for a few years now, transitioning libraries into learning commons, making them more interactive to open discussion and support different styles of learning among children.

Traditionally, libraries are known for being quiet spaces, but Holmes said this change hopes to promote conversation. While there are still plenty of books on the shelves, the learning commons is providing a more social atmosphere, one where collaborative learning is encouraged.

“It’s not to ditch the print resources that we use, but it’s introducing digital print and the digital world that these kids are growing up in,” she said.

The change aims to give youth the upper hand at an early age, immersing them into different types of technology, because those are the tools they will need to be successful in their future careers.

“It’s to modernize our resources and our learning space in our school,” she said. “We’re making learning student centered and student generated…. the teacher supports them and sometimes push them in the right direction.”

Holmes said there’s a lot more hands-on projects being undertaken with partners, so problem solving starts from the ground up. This approach gives kids multiple ways to demonstrate their learning, giving them a boost in confidence.

“There’s a lot of different ways that we can learn and express ourselves,” she said. “It’s what they need to do to be successful in the world they’re going to be working in.”

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