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Many of you who know me well may be surprised by this:

working aloneWhile I love being around and am fueled by the excitement and passion or others, after a day or two of this, I need my alone time to refuel. I am energized as much by my interactions with others as by my quiet time by myself, in my own head. And I NEED both. That balance is as necessary to my professional productivity as it is to my personal passions.

During three days of campus tours and meetings with various media services/ academic technologies/ instructional technologists I was contemplating my own exhaustion. It was a different type of run-down than the understandable flat out tired that comes from a week long trade show in Vegas. It was an overwhelmed type of feeling that made me want to shut down for a few hours and just be quiet. I didn’t want to shut off my brain- I wanted to contemplate my experiences and thoughts about the day in a quiet and secluded setting.

Then I started generalizing my own emotions as those of “most” other people, as we humans are so often prone to do.  Our industry, our bosses, our chiefs want more collaboration, more interactive, more action. And there is absolutely supported reasoning for this. But not all students or non-students excel in an environment like this. Some must contemplate quietly in their own heads. Some become tired or distracted by too much interaction. Sometimes these flexible, transitional, open plan spaces become overwhelming. What then, when you are tasked with opening up floors of the library, putting all furniture on casters and creating collaborative nooks everywhere?

Not all students can hole up in a dorm room for individual work time. This is especially true for colleges that have a heavy commuter population like community colleges and technical schools.  How do you balance the needs of students who blossom with external stimulation and conversation with those who need internal contemplation and personal space? Has your institution experienced an increase in requests for the reinstatement of quiet, individual pods in the library? How does your school address both types of students (and the majority who may be somewhere in between the intro and extro extremes) in a way that allows for success for all – or most? Let us know in the comments below…

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