Stars vs. Clouds: Creating a Collaborative Commons Learning Space

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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