about online shared spaces


When I was in high school we had a snack bar and a lounge called the fishbowl. These were public spaces but generally understood to be student lounges or congregating areas. There were also spaces right outside of the teacher’s offices, the “outer offices”. Students might be found in these spaces waiting to meet or get help from teachers. These weren’t exactly the teacher offices, but they also weren’t classrooms. So between hallways and stairwells, the outer offices, the snack bar, the fishbowl, etc. there were many spaces within the learning environment where teachers and students interacted, and each of those interactions potentially impacted the learning experience.

Now with technologies impacting the formal and informal ways and spaces where students learn, I’ve been thinking a lot about connected learning and how connected learning looked for me as a student in the late 90’s through my undergraduate years. Many of the things in my real world that grounded classroom learnings made their way into conversation with peers and teachers, and many times these conversations happened outside of formal learning spaces, but within the informal spaces inside of the learning environment.

Connected learning is espoused to help learners create and have more authentic experiences because learners are able to weave and interconnect their real worlds with classroom materials etc. I wonder, though, where do students and teachers interact informally, and maybe even accidentally, online? If there aren’t many spaces, or any spaces, where students and instructors interact online in natural and authentic ways…as they might do in the hallway, in school lounges, in outer offices, or across the campus quad, where do those connections the students are making in online spaces connecting to the online spaces teachers visit and reside?

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