Designing a Virtual Third Place for Your School

During the pandemic, we have become aware of the many challenges of virtual learning.  Perhaps the most important and obvious outcome of not attending school face-to-face is the realization of the role that school plays in supporting the social interactions so necessary for student learning, growth, and development.  We have learned that the isolation of home, the potential sterility of technology learning environments, and a lack of human interaction has negatively impacted both educators and students in profound ways.

This session explores the design of a virtual “third place” that can be created to address the social and emotional health of students. The concept of the third place, first described by Ray Oldenburg in the 1989 book, The Great Good Place, is a location between home and school that supports informal and social interactions (for adults, it is between home and work).  Using commonly available technologies, it is possible for a school or district to create a virtual third place that can become a location for the informal social interactions that can link students to each other and their schools.  These spaces can support a variety of uses, from helping students connect around passions and interests to being a location that offers the school community an opportunity to create a more cohesive and participatory school culture while addressing and reducing the isolation and sterility of the virtual experience.

We’ll explore what a virtual third place can look like, what technology is required to create such a space, and what the creative opportunities and potential of such a space can be.  We’ll also discuss the opportunity to develop student ownership of the space.  Most importantly, we’ll discuss the need for creating a safe virtual space that is inclusive and allows the school to support and develop the authentic human connections necessary to support students, their learning and social and emotional health.

Learning Objectives

By attending this session, attendees will be able to:

  • Describe what a third place is.
  • Discuss the need for such a space and how it can support student social and emotional health.
  • Identify the technology tools required to build a virtual third place.
  • Discuss opportunities for activities and connections that can occur in the third place.
  • Discuss student ownership of the third place and the management strategies necessary for effective use.
  • Describe actionable next steps for creating a third place.
January 15 @ 11:10
11:10 am — 12:00 pm (50′)

David Jakes