Coworking, maps and learning

Throughout history, man has been interested in mapping everything that surrounds him, whether the lands are well known, recently discovered or imaginary. As a tool, maps have always been essential to help us locate ourselves in the world, but they also influence how we perceive it. For example, to represent earth, which is a geoid, cartographers use a projection system to move the geometry of a sphere to a two-dimensional plane. But, as well as representing the contours, surfaces and angles, they have to decide what other information is relevant and should appear on the map. In one way or another, this conditions the way that we perceive things and learn. 

And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!"

"Have you used it much?" I enquired.

"It has never been spread out, yet," said Mein Herr: "the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.  (Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893))



In a recent video posted on TED, John Green uses maps and the story of Agloe (New York) as a metaphor to illustrate his path to learning. When he comments that "what we map changes the life we lead", Greens is talking about "communities of learners" that share this curiosity and motivation for mapping the world. As a teenager, he found this type of community at Indian Spring school, a small boarding school, and now as an adult he still has the urge to immerse himself into learning via virtual communities, such as those found on YouTube, as they allow him to learn about subjects that interest him, no matter his age or location.


Now there's no need to answer the question "where to go?", but "where are you?" Because we could be in the library, the laboratory, even at school, reading books and examining world maps, bound to science sources through a virtual space; the feeling of being sat there may even predominate that of sitting in a chair at home. Will these channels be enough? Will they substitute a live presence of the master, the beloved incarnation of knowing?  (Michel Serres, Atlas)


The digital revolution that took place during the last quarter of the 20th century and the start of the 21st century dramatically increased our access to knowledge. As Serres's text states, it is even more important for us to create our own maps in the ocean of information that is the Internet. This helps us keep discovering and mapping "new worlds" rather than trying to understand the destination we are going towards. Virtual platforms such as Coursera or edX offer access to university courses and specialisms from all over the world, right from your armchair. You can find active "communities of learners" in these courses, as Green mentioned. 


Alexandria Library. Image Source: Wikipedia


This type of "communities of learners" can also be found in coworking spaces, which host specialist events for groups of professionals, like developers, web designers, graphic designers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, etc. Coworking spaces also tend to offer workshops on different subject matters too. What's more, knowledge is shared and collaborations are forged between members on a daily basis, meaning that coworking spaces really are potential learning hubs, where "communities of learners" can grow. 

In recent years, hybrid models have been evolving, which combine educational programmes with the coworking model. On one hand, they offer complete immersive and specialised programmes, sometimes creating partnerships with universities. On the other hand, they provide an ecosystem of companies within the community that offer graduates from those courses the opportunity to work. This model allows students to have a more hands-on approach to the subjects that they are learning. An example of such is the network of spaces, Galvanize, which has six campuses in the United States. 


Accelerators, another hybrid model where we see training, entrepreneurialism and coworking come together, are also found in coworking spaces. In this case, acceleration participants do not only receive mentoring, they are immersed in an environment where they are exposed to "collisions" with other professionals, which could help enrich their experience. They may also find that funding is more readily accessible once they finish the programme. This type of model is used in spaces such as Warner Yard, and acceleration programmes such as Alfacamp in Spain, which has taken place in three different coworking spaces to date.
The coworking model is sure to progress in coming years. Spaces and their communities are ecosystems that promote learning and collaboration. These "communities of learners" will keep growing as spaces do too and interactions multiply.

What do you think? Will coworking spaces play an important role in training future professionals? 

Main image source: Sylwia Bartyzel

Related posts

  • Tech-Enabling a Software-Focused Coworking Space: Cahoots Case Study

    Tech-Enabling a Software-Focused Coworking Space: Cahoots Case Study

    Michigan-based coworking space Cahoots was created by tech founders, for tech founders. It’s currently home to 46 companies and counting, from one-person startups to venture-backed teams of 100+. Members can choose from a variety of flexible membership plans and gain access to leading industry events, a Health Club and a number of other amenities – as well as a dedicated and collaborative workspace. As a leading tech hub, Cahoots was in need of a high functioning coworking management platform that would align with their brand. To find out more about why Cahoots chose Nexudus and the features and integrations they find most beneficial, we caught up with Alison Todak. Alison is Cahoots’ Managing Director with a background in coaching startups and helping them launch, so her members are at the heart of her decision-making.

  • Is coworking still a profitable business?

    Is coworking still a profitable business?

    The impact of COVID-19 and the social distancing measures that are being implemented until a vaccine or cure is discovered are having an impact on many businesses from two angles. On one hand, many are experiencing a lack of income due to closure and on the other, they are having to adjust their business models to adapt to the new transitional phase that is already happening in many countries.

  • What role will small to medium cities play in the future of coworking?

    What role will small to medium cities play in the future of coworking?

    With big cities becoming increasingly expensive and technology enabling people to work remotely with ease, many people see small and medium cities and towns as the solution to the work/life balance conundrum. It’s likely that, in the next decade, we’ll witness a migration of skilled professionals from big cities to medium-size one. Will Covid-19 accelerate this trend?

  • ​Will local coworking be the end of commuting in cities?

    ​Will local coworking be the end of commuting in cities?

    Although the benefits are numerous, our collective experience has also given visibility to the problems of telecommuting. Under lockdown, many of us are having to juggle work with childcare and homeschooling. Even under normal circumstances, maintaining any semblance of work-life balance can be a challenge. Of course, when looking at the pros and cons of working from home it’s important to remember that the experience is different for everyone, and it only really works if the employer has a comprehensive remote working policy in place. Is there a middle ground?

  • Preparing to re-open? Is your space as clean as you think?

    Preparing to re-open? Is your space as clean as you think?

    A post-COVID-19 society could require workspaces to go the extra mile to ensure that they provide quality ventilation and tighten up their hygiene practices. Here are ideas to improve hygiene and air quality in your coworking and flexible office space.

  • Level39:  Home to the World's Most Connected Tech Community

    Level39: Home to the World's Most Connected Tech Community

    In the era of digital excellence, Qaunain Meghjee, from Level39 in London, talks to us about Level39; and how they did overcome the digitalisation, centralisation and smartening up of their processes thanks to Nexudus.