[Activity 4] Visit a Learning Space


Negative Space drawing with comments sharing


I love your reflection on how the space has an atmosphere of “stuff is being made” - and how you might maintain that! I personally am a fan of spaces that look like you can really build something in them, without worrying too much about mess and durability (like a garage, or a woodshop) - and that way, you don’t have to worry as much about scrubbing markers/paint from smooth white tables :slight_smile:

And that’s pretty exciting that you are moving to a more accessible and brighter space! How do you plan to support the culture of helping and mess-making in that new space? Do you think having a new space necessarily engenders a change in culture? Would love to see pictures of your current one!



Yo tuve la oportunidad de participar en cursos de verano como tutora en Club Hause en Panamá, me encargue de guiar a los chicos en programación con scrath y robotica Educativa.
Chicos de diferentes edades y la clave fue ponerlos a trabajar en pares si de esta forma cada ves que tenían un proyecto que entregar se esforzaban por que les saliera bien.
Al finalizar el verano el animo que te dan los chicos y lo felices que estan de aprender cosas nuevas es muy bueno.
Que mejor experiencia de las nuevas formas de enseñar de participar de tutora voluntaria de un Club Hause.

Gracias por la atención



I went down to the Central branch of the library In Calgary to look at the learning space that they have created. I chose the library because it is a complicated space. I think that a lot of the interventions that they have put in place especially on the first floor is in the interest to search for relevance.

When I first walked in there is a Firetruck Engine 33 that the library has turned into a reading nook and play area for children. It has child-sized emergency responders jackets, levers to pull, an area on top where people can read books to their kids. I saw lots of smiles and playing games like tag. If you bought a librarian from 10 years ago through a time machine, they might have a meltdown if they saw it. It’s a beautiful addition to the space that was kind of unused prior to the firetruck. I think it speaks to the mainstream acceptance that play is linked with learning.

Next stop, was an area where they were testing a program for the new library project where you write letters to your past self. I enjoyed finding the one typewriter that’s ribbon was off and getting it back into place. I didn’t get it the first time but I figured it out and got the typewriter writing again. I noticed many notes written and when I started using one of the typewriters others seemed to join in where nobody was using them before. I think if the typewriters were centralized in the middle with the display space around the sides, it might encourage more people to talk to each other.

Finally, I took a look at the teen area. I didn’t want to get right in their because I recognized it was important that the “no adults” vibe stands. It has semi-frosted glass to separate it from the rest of the library with a big sign that says “teens only”. I noticed many of the teenagers using it to all hang out at a large table, many were using the space as a study space or an area to charge their phones, which spoke to some of the amenities that the library was providing. The thing that surprised me was some kids were playing video games off to the side on equipment I assume that were provided by the library. It was by far the busiest area of the library. This is a tough space to make more collaborative, I saw the teenagers interacting with each other while some worked on their own around the sides of the room.


Virtual learning spaces are where I am spending most of my time these days. Video conference platforms such as Zoom and Adobe Connect are where I connect with my colleagues in a learning community. I facilitate monthly community meetings that are intended to build a network of leaders, learners, researchers and practitioners, so considering how to make a digital interaction feel more personal is very important to me.

Working in a digital space requires different considerations. In a physical space you can move furniture, consider sight lines and placement of visuals. You can also consider placement of people and a flow of interaction. This can be done in a digital world too, but the movement becomes about audio and limited visuals. Ground rules, community ways of being and tech support help to manage a free flow of ideas where tech isn’t a distraction and extraneous noise isn’t a detractor from learning. Allowing for equal airtime and building in “2-D” interactive opportunities helps to build a trusting community.

I’ve been impressed at the depth of the on-line relationships and connection to a community of learners that I’ve been able to build in collaborations with the other team members and collaborators. The greatest feedback is when the virtual connections are sealed with a handshake or a hug when we get to meet in person. Meeting in person makes it evident that we still value actual face to face learning spaces for connection.


I like your mention that learning environments should help students feel learning can and should be enjoyable. That is such an important aspect and a powerful rationale to make them an agent for their own learning.


Great photos! I am curious if there are any aspects of the tools/rooms/materials design to help students comfortable to collaborate!


That lab sounds so much fun! When I work with kids in a workshop setting, it is sometimes very difficult to help them share their work with their peers. I am curious how your space helps them feel comfortable, or are they already comfortable?


Thanks. It was a great experience for me.


Thank you, yes it is our robotic lab and our kids are well adapted to the facility and it is designed in such a way to facilitate team work. For the shark tank activity the products are entirely the creative and new ideas developed by the teams to be showcased before the sharks. We provide them with the materials and kits during the activity hours for construction and programming.


I love kids engaging in sharing. Curious how you prompted them and used those booklets to make this conversation happen.


Ah I love all parts you are introducing but especially the “no adults” room idea!!! I love how the room by the existence in the library, where the place to learn, sends the message of “We respect your right and will to learn” to those teenagers. Such a neat idea!


Having worked a lot as a live session assistant, I share many of the experiences you are describing. I agree that the importance of subtle “ground rules, community ways of being and tech support” in online conference settings. This reminds me of one class at School of Social Work on racial identity development that I assisted years ago. The class size wasn’t small but the topic was such a sensitive one that it was very difficult to disclose your thoughts. So the professor introduced a simple rule to show your face in webcam when you say something— to be open and responsible of what you are saying, and help others understand what you are saying from what background/standpoint. It was so simple but made everyone’s discussion very thoughtful and caring.


Awesome that you worked in a clubhouse! I personally have an experience some kids having difficulty working in pairs. How did you pair up kids and how did you support them when there is any difficulty (if any)?? I am curious!


Your tools look very beautiful! But I am personally curious if you encountered any difficulty encouraging kids to tinker with varieties of ideas when you suggested them to create games. Or if not how you encouraged them. I am asking because I just assisted a workshop for elementary kids with a group of game designers who created very very beautiful sample projects that clearly influenced kids’ work a bit too much (many kids created exactly the same format) and could not help them think outside those examples. I have been thinking since then the right balance between showing the functions simple and appealing but at the same time not restricting their imagination. Do you have any suggestions?


Thank you for your reply. Your comment about looking into the camera makes me think of the importance of building learning environments that are accessible. I’ve been working to build in more accessibility practices to virtual learning engagements (and in person settings). Simple techniques like using your name every time you speak allows blind users to identify who is speaking. It also is just good practice and keeps a flow for the whole group. Reading chat windows allows for the closed captioning, or an ASL interpreter (signer for the deaf) to capture side conversations, bringing comments to the attention of the whole group. Both are seemingly simple adjustments, but ones that are too often overlooked. Both techniques also support a better experience for all participants, allowing for full interaction and conscious participation.

For anyone who wants to learn more about building accessibility into your learning spaces I suggest looking at the resources from Access Computing at the University of Washington. The more I learn, the more I realize that too many learning experiences (K-12 classrooms, university, workshops, conferences, virtual calls) are not inclusive. In many cases there are easy adjustments that can build better learning experiences for everyone.


I appreciate the observation of a ‘non’traditional’ learning space. Too often we associate/identify rooms full of chairs and chalkboards as learning spaces. The narrative of where learning can take place has been too rigid for too long. We need to embrace the idea that learning and learning spaces are everywhere and that everyone is a learner and an educator.


Hi Yumiko, thanks for these great questions; what you ask about is always a challenge for me, too. I learned from my research group at Tufts to measure the success of engineering challenges by the diversity of results that are produced. At the end of a Scratch class, I often have failed, by this measure. :worried:

Some guidelines that I think are helpful for a facilitator:

  1. Present at least 2-3 different Scratch examples (maybe one “game”, one interactive art machine or simulation, and one story with animation). I sometimes point kids to a studio that holds these diverse provocations, while other times I launch projects on a few computers, and have the code waiting to be explored.

  2. The Scratch examples should be unfinished enough that, when remixed, kids will quickly turn to one of several areas for improvement. (As a result, they’ll be working toward diverse goals.)

  3. The physical interfaces (Pico or MakeyMakey) can be wired into in make-believe props. This is a trade off, and/or it may be developmentally appropriate for some but not all ages. For example, I have a telephone wired with copper tape that can be part of a completed or interrupted circuit. Thus far, with this prop I’ve been surprised how many Scratchers are willing to just abandon Scratch to play make believe talk-into-the-phone; at the same time, I’m hopeful this kind of prop will yield unusual projects dealing with a wide range of subjects.

To the theme of LCL this week, I find all of these strategies work best if kids are paired rather than working alone, and if we periodically pause to share projects with the larger group. It also seems essential that a facilitator observes work very carefully, and finds ways to pose targeted questions that have scaffolding encoded into them.


Last week I took part in an AMAZING workshop that was held in an abandoned warehouse building. I realized good learning spaces don’t have to cost a lot of money. It was a Tactical Urbanism workshop so we took part in building furniture out of reclaimed wood and designing bike lanes and World Park(ing) day art installations. This was a really great, unconventional space for hands-on learning and the participants physically built the “space” in almost a guerilla sense (which made it extra fun and exciting). The co-creators of the learning space (us) also built the furniture that would become the furniture we would use for the remainder of the workshop. The furniture will now migrate to city parks (after all the snow disapears). All of the wide open warehouse space was really conducive for big thinking, art and collaboration. It was magic. I can’t stop thinking about teaching in ‘pop-up’ spaces now… (upload://iKzqVah9QJFLlRNRT0jpm79YVBr.jpg)

imageimage image


My college library is the first thing that comes to my mind. Students are collaborating to do homework, study for exams, complete their upcoming projects etc. The table space varies from an individual table for self-study to big tables that can accommodate around 6 people. This makes it easy for people to sit across each other and brainstorm. There is quick access to printers, scanners and coffee machine. Students have the option of using the computers provided by the libraries as well. I would add more books for research as well as provide private rooms, if needed