Integrating Technology in Active Learning Spaces

According to Judy Willis, a neurologist, educator and Edutopia contributor, your brain goes into a state of stress when bored. Designing active, flexible learning spaces that get kids excited about learning is important for engaging young minds. In a review of the Education Design Showcase web site, common attributes of the award-winning schools and libraries were:

  • Student-centered, hands-on learning that fosters interaction between students
  • Small learning communities / neighborhoods
  • Vibrant, fun environments that are playful and reflective of the diverse character of students and the community
  • Collaborative learning spaces that are flexible and adaptable
  • Ergonomic furnishings including mobile seating & tables with height-adjustability feature
  • Ample storage as uncluttered spaces lead to mindful learning & reduced stress
  • Relaxing corners & quiet zones
  • Canteens, cafetoriums, and flex walls for dividing gyms and cafeteria spaces
  • Play time, teamwork, study groups or free-time activities
  • Wayfinding and zoning which adds clarity and grounding for students
Green Valley Ranch Library, Denver CO
Computing spaces support collaboration with ample work space and two-person benches.
Kid's Corner
Pops of colorful, comfortable seating create relaxing spaces.

Connecting with the Always-On Generation
Kids born in 2000, and later, have been brought up from childhood with a continuous connection to each other and to information. These kids are part of the Always-On Generation (or Gen AO), a term first used by Elon University professor Janna Quitney Anderson in 2012. Many were using technology devices before they could speak complete sentences. When something is so integrated into their everyday lives, how do you keep them engaged in learning?

Barrington Public Library, IL
Young kids flock to technology.

Building A Technology Toolbox
Multi-sensory learning experiences and multimedia program delivery is a basic expectation of educational environments. A focus on 21st century skills highlights the need for digital and visual literacy to become fluent in information analysis and proficient in the creation, manipulation and design of media based communications.  Access to tools and resources for all ages that support integrated learning is increasingly supported in library environments.

LeapFrog Tag Reader Pen
Reading with the LeapFrog® Tag is a multisensory experience.
LeapFrog LeapTablet
Tablet-based technology changes how kids learn.

According to the 2011 State of America’s Library Report, E-book use is accelerating for everyone. Academic libraries are ahead of the curve, with 12% circulating devices, and 6% of elementary and 5% of public libraries following. Many libraries are hosting “petting zoos” as a way for people to test the different technology devices before committing to a purchase.

Palo Alto Library
Technology has changed the formats of how information is distributed.
Palo Alto Library Ad, CA
A newspaper ad invites the public to explore new technology at their library.

Digital media labs are increasingly popular. They provide a learning lab atmosphere which often involves collaboration with community experts who share their knowledge of equipment and production techniques. These spaces provide access to content creation tools, an emerging trend in providing a personal learning experience. If space is at a premium, utilize mobile equipment and pop-up green screens to facilitate video recording.

A broad spectrum of technology devices are available to extend learning outside of the traditional school walls, and support library users of any age. Tablet computers, netbooks, iPods, MP3 players, interactive whiteboards, document cameras and listening stations are the basics of a well-stocked technology toolbox.

Green Screen Kit
Portable green screen and lighting is a flexible option when space is at a premium.
Boys with Digital Camera
Personalize learning through video-based content creation.
TouchIT Interactive Whiteboard
Interactive whiteboards are a multi-dimensional learning tool.

As the hub of the community, your library is the place to pull it all together.


Additional Resources:


Angie Schoeneck

Angie Schoeneck

Growth Strategy Manager at Demco, Inc.
Angie is the Growth Strategy Manager at Demco. She focuses on the evolving needs and trends in education and library environments, their patrons and communities, and translating these into relevant products and services. She has an extensive background in new product development, product management and business process improvement.