UWM students are in the news thanks to a recently published study by researchers from the Department of Anthropology and UITS. EDUCAUSE release a research bulletin on the study. [Note: access is restricted to EDUCAUSE members.]
One aspect of the study was to observe students in a technology rich environment. So students were observed in the library’s Learning Commons as well as the computer lab in the Student Union.
I appreciated the authors insights into the purpose or use of the Learning Commons.
1. The authors use some academic concepts to help us understand why certain technology rich spaces work. I really liked the idea of “co-presence”- students gathering in the Learning Commons not just for the resources, not just for the comfort, not just for the people, but more for the sense that being there spurs one towards a goal and the learning commons elicits conformity towards participating in scholarly activities. Thus the Learning Commons is NOT a computer lab with a cafe, but is a space where scholarly activity is happening.
2. The authors highlighted that even though libraries themselves have physically changed to adapt to their users, libraries are still the hub of scholarly activity on campus.
Overall the study does not reveal anything new, but affirms other research efforts and developing trends in technology use.