Learning Centers in the Library: What can we do with them?

Catherine Deane, Thomas Jefferson School of Law


This program is about leveraging the technology of the learning centers in Thomas Jefferson School of Law Library to foster a collaborative approach to learning legal research. 


We have two teaching areas in the library called the learning centers. The learning centers are based on the Knowledge BarTM that was designed by IDEO for Florida Coastal School of Law. It consists of a bar-like table with a glass top, a flat screen monitor, a DVD player, two whiteboards and a ceiling mounted document review camera.



For two semesters, I have been teaching legal research at the learning centers which are on the fourth and fifth floors of the library. My classes have been very small, 8-10 students, which makes the learning center an ideal place for legal research instruction, because it facilitates small group collaboration.


This presentation describes and analyses my experiences teaching at the learning centers. In particular, I would like to highlight the benefits of:

  • having erasable table surfaces to brainstorm on
  • being able to connect the student’s laptops to the monitor
  • being able to easily retrieve books from the nearby stacks and to view them with the document camera


I will also speculate on the role of the learning center as a space for building stronger connections between students and between students and librarians. I believe that the learning center as a space has an impact on the level of intimacy of the class. It may help students take more responsibility over their learning experience, and it may make it easier to keep students engaged, since it is more noticeable when students are not paying attention and not participating.


I’d also like to look to the future. I have some new ideas for using the learning center to foster collaborative learning. Also, since not everyone can have a learning center, I want to touch on ways that instructors can use these techniques even if they lack this specific confluence of technology.


Schedule info

Time slot: 
23 June 09:00 - 10:00