“The space between” is how Shirley Dugdale and Phil Long describe informal learning spaces in higher education institutions. These are the places between classrooms and lecture halls, workspaces and meeting rooms, labs and seminars. *1 They are the places where students and faculty socialize, network, and study, where class discussions are continued and group projects are completed, and where impromptu encounters occur…“Places where serendipity happens” is how Susan Whitmer of Herman Miller, Inc., defines them… (source)
In the spirit of connected learning and a commitment to faculty learning communities, we invite VCU faculty and staff to join us for informal professional learning. Every Wednesday and Thursday, from noon to 2 p.m., members of the ALT Lab team will be gathered in our informal learning space…
People are attracted to environments that provide changing stimuli. Consider coffee shops, city parks, or public lobbies. They are filled with people doing all sorts of things: working, eating, visiting, or simply taking in the sights. This is nothing new. In the 5th century BC, Greek cities included an agora, the open space in the middle of the city or near the harbor that was a meeting ground for a variety of activities. The word itself refers to both the physical place and the gathering of people. (source)
We imagine our ALT Lab Agora as part coffee shop (there WILL be coffee!), part meeting ground; it is both a physical place (in the center of Suite 4102 in the Academic Learning Commons) and a gathering of people. There will be no formal agenda, no dedicated theme or topic. There will be “shop talk;” that is, we’ll be talking about teaching and learning, and we’ll be available to answer individual questions, break off into small groups as need be, or do whatever works with whoever is around. If informal learning spaces are, in fact, “where serendipity happens,” we hope to engineer serendipity.