From the Field

Curated Language Learning Spaces: Design Principles of Physical 21st Century Language Centers

— Felix Kronenberg, Rhodes College

In his research, Kronenberg addresses questions such as:

  • How will physical learning spaces look in an increasingly digital future?
  • Can digital spaces be as immersive as physical ones, or even more so?
  •  How do modes of communication change because of these developments?

His focus is on language learning spaces, but his story about the evolution of this particular species of learning environments—what it was, has become, is becoming—is intriguing. It is translatable into a language for planning that can inform the work of academics and architects responsible for learning spaces of all kinds. 
—Jeanne L. Narum, LSC

Today’s centers face a new reality: ubiquitous, mobile computing has changed how students, faculty, and staff use physical spaces. What can a physical space offer when everything appears to be going virtual? When its mission is no longer that of only providing dedicated hardware and software? 

A modern language center is more than simply a space for support but rather a curated language learning hub. It creates synergies between the various languages and their faculty and students, various campus offices such as information technology services and study abroad, and other departments. A well-managed center offers faculty development targeted at, but not limited to, language faculty, it creates language-learning possibilities outside of the classroom by planning events, such as language karaoke nights, tutoring possibilities, and foreign language video game sessions. 

And it can bring people together even beyond the confines of the campus boundaries by enabling video conferencing with students who study abroad, exchange partners, or native speakers. 

Read the full article from IALLT Journal of Language Learning Technologies, Vol. 46 (1) 2016.

Rhodes College Language Center

From the Archives

Vision, Goals & Strategies: A Guide for Planning Learning Spaces

Prepared in 2010, this guide set the stage for LSC activities over the past six years. The major themes in the guide, about learner-centered planning and about strategies for institutionalizing attention to learning spaces resonate strongly in LSC activities in 2016 and continue to drive our planning into 2017.

Goals: Our students see spaces as opportunities for constructing their own knowledge, for taking personal responsibility for their learning, assuming the persona of the practitioner, reflecting on and advancing their career as undergraduate learner. Develop strategies to:

  • Understand what your current students think about their current learning spaces and about spaces in which they feel most creative and comfortable as learners.
  • Be clear about the depth of knowledge and breadth of skills current employers/society expect of current 21st century college/university graduates.
  • Bring students to the planning table.

Goal: Developing and maintaining a robust learning physical learning environment becomes a continuous rather than episodic engagement of appropriate members of the broader community and appropriate stakeholders. Develop strategies to:

  • Have the planning “heartbeat” be transparent within and beyond the working committees.
  • Have a standing learning spaces working committee that involves students, administrators, staff as well as faculty.
  • Have evolving discussions about vision and goals for learning spaces campus-wide, in the context of undertaking particular planning initiatives. 

Read the entire Guide>>>

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