The Yomiuri Shimbun
KYOTO–Students learning from each other in a free and relaxed atmosphere–that is the concept behind Doshisha University’s new “learning commons,” a space for its students to work, study and socialize together.
The university recently invited the press to have a look around the facility, on the second and third floors of the new Ryoshin building on its Imadegawa campus in Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto. While a classroom can be defined as a setting in which students are taught by a teacher, a learning commons is a place where students can discuss things among themselves and express their opinions.
The learning commons has been introduced at campus libraries of universities in the United States and European countries since the 1990s.
Doshisha’s learning commons, with a total floor space of about 2,550 square meters, is furnished with round tables and sofas to facilitate discussion. Office equipment, such as personal computers, is available to borrow.
Also, three designated members of the teaching staff will be on hand to give guidance to students on how to write papers or to pursue their research. Another feature of the learning commons is a space where the Japanese language is “banned” as a way of encouraging more communication and interaction with foreign students.
Tomoyo Fujita, 20, a junior majoring in sociology, said: “As we can have experiences like making presentations before a large number of people while using a large screen, it should give us a good incentive [to do well]. As we will be able to discuss issues while looking at each other, something we have never done before, it should be fun.”