The August 17, 2007, issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education has a story by Scott Carlson called “An Anthropologist in the Library” which details a study conducted by Nancy Fried Foster at the University of Rochester. Foster specializes in work-practice theory and the anthropology of work. The study was designed to learn more about how students spent their time on campus: where they write papers and do homework, what tools they use to help them complete tasks, what else they are doing while doing their work, and so forth. Study results have “helped guide a library renovation, influenced a Web-site redesign, led to changes in the way the library markets itself to students, and, in some cases, completely changed the image of undergraduates in the eyes of Rochester librarians.”
One important portion of the study asked students to map their routes on campus on a typical campus, noting the order of the routes, the time they arrived at a particular location, and the time they left:
They also asked students to collaborate on the design of new library spaces:
This study is an exemplar of what can be achieved in learning space designs when students are (administrators allow them to be) the driving force of change.
On a related note . . . a recent post by Jim Brown on the CWRL’s Blogging Pedagogy, describes an assignment-in-the-works where students will map the borders in their lives using Flickr and Google MyMaps. Jim provides a link to his own mapped borders. My Maps Plus now offers the ability to embed Google MyMaps into any web page.