What’s New from 2014 EDspaces?
by Janet Nelson
I recently attended the 2014 EDspaces Conference in Tampa, FL. It was exciting to see how this conference reinvented itself, fast becoming one of “the” places for school administrators and planners, teachers, architects, dealers and manufacturers to explore how schools can fully optimize their learning environments. Educational sessions addressed broad topics, such as trends in learning environments and sustainability. There were also focused sessions on strategies for passing bonds, integrating STEM/STEAM and more.
I attended a standing-room-only presentation, co-presented by project architects and the assistant superintendent from the Glen Ellyn School District on “Transforming Spaces — The 21st Century Library.” They had an outstanding case study highlighting the renovation journey of Hadley Junior High School, including their library. Through the use of color, light and a variety of modern furniture, they transformed a dingy, 1970s library into a vibrant, welcoming environment. They created a flexible space with a variety of functional areas able to accommodate 5 or more classes at once. Their goal was to create a functional, dynamic destination that drew students in, a space that was not viewed as a traditional library and most importantly, a flexible learning environment. Mission accomplished.
EDspaces’ planners also revamped the exhibit floor experience. In addition to traditional vendor exhibits, they included Specialty Spaces that addressed the emerging trends and needs of a school in a more visual way and offered additional opportunities for educational sessions.
Demco hosted a Specialty Space focused on the direction school libraries/media centers are heading – the evolution from traditional material-focused spaces to multi-functional learning commons. We showcased spaces centered on David Thornberg’s learning metaphors of Watering Hole, Cave and Campfire spaces. We added a fourth dimension that we’re calling Creation space.
These spaces acknowledge and support different modes of learning, and group dynamics ranging from quiet spaces for self-directed learning, casual peer learning and expert-led instruction. These concepts resonated with attendees, and based on this experience and the positive responses, we will offer a webinar on this topic in February 2015. Stay tuned for details!
I was encouraged by the attention and level of interest in the school library at EDspaces, and to see the transformation of the idea of library was astounding. School administrators were very interested in incorporating dynamic, flexible-use libraries into their buildings reflecting the changing needs of the students, staff and community. Equally important was the acknowledgement that when there are libraries that function as the hub of the school, there is a direct, positive impact on student learning.