Stars vs. Clouds: Creating a Collaborative Commons Learning Space

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Jim Dawkins Valerie J. Shute


The authors engaged in a redesign of the Robert Morgan Studio space, a learning lab for Instructional Systems students at Florida State University. This is a multipurpose computer and media lab that provides a venue for engaging with courseware, teaching and, learning applications, and accessing resources for specialization in digital production and dissemination. Originally intended to be a versatile computer and media lab for instructional systems courses with a specialization in digital production and dissemination, the space was found to be less than nurturing in its support of the original vision. The room was, in effect, designed without understanding the needed intent. Our goal was to provide a space for developing systems to evaluate how people learn, providing systems to help people engage in this learning. The lab needed to be deconstructed, literally and figuratively, from its austere and semi-functional layout into a more highly interactive studio; not simply individualized, but a highly social, context-dependent and collaborative achievement.

This design case chronicles the design process including the installation and post-occupancy observations of both successes and failures in the resulting renovated space. The dynamics of team collaboration viewed horizontally across campus departments and vertically within the instructional and administrative structures of each group are explored as the design process unfolds. The narrative examines the Morgan Studio redesign through the process of conceptual design, schematic design, and design development normally associated with professional design practice. The roles of idea generation, sketch drawing, and FF&E selection and installation are highlighted against a client environment where proposed and perceived design directions are subjected to a variety of end-user desires, understandings, and expectations.

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How to Cite
Dawkins, J., & Shute, V. (2013). Stars vs. Clouds: Creating a Collaborative Commons Learning Space. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 4(2).
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Author Biographies

Jim Dawkins, The Florida State University

James D. Dawkins is an assistant professor of Interior Design at The Florida State University where he serves as an instructor in both undergraduate and graduate studios. He earned his BA in Design and his Master of Architecture degree from Clemson University. Dawkins’ research interest focuses on graphic facilitation, communication, and mediation of ideas through hand-drawing techniques and their realization in hybrid forms of computer aided design.

Valerie J. Shute, The Florida State University

Valerie J. Shute is a professor at The Florida State University where she serves as an instructor in the Instructional Systems program at the College of Education. She earned her PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and held a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Learning Research and Development Center. Shute’s general research interests involve the design, development, and evaluation of advanced systems to support learning.