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New Learning Commons Fosters Collaboration

Starting this fall, the Writing Center, the Biology/Chemistry Center and the Research Center came together to form the new Learning Commons, which is located on the first floor of the library.

The Commons, which is still under construction, includes moveable furniture and whiteboards so students can study together and work on projects. Also starting this week, Candace Bailey Combs, the new ESL specialist, will be holding office hours .

According to the brochure, the goal of this new project is to “foster a dynamic environment where conversation empowers students to engage in deeper learning.”

The brain children behind this idea are: Robin Rank, Reference and Instruction Librarian and the Director for the Research Center; Amy Newday, Director of the Writing Center; Hilary Wagner, Director of the Bio/Chem Center; Paul Sotherland, Coordinator of Educational Effectiveness.

“I like to think of it as student learning for students, by students,” said Robin Rank, The Learning Commons is mostly student staffed with each Peer Consultants helping students write papers, do research or study for biology or chemistry.

The Bio/Chem Center’s move to the library was caused when it’s space in Dow Science Center was no longer available. Needing a new space they decided the library was a perfect space.

“The first floor of the library seemed like the perfect place for the project…it’s one of the main buildings on campus that truly fosters learning,” said Rank

The Math and Physics Center, located on the second floor of Olds Upton, they decided they didn’t want to be apart of the Learning Commons because they were comfortable in their space.

Merging the different departments together creates a collaborative space and adds an interdisciplinary approach to learning. A similar concept for faculty called the Teaching Commons is under development.

“My hope is that the Learning Commons will help students understand that “Independent Scholarship” isn’t about doing everything alone all of the time… revolutionary ideas are often catalyzed by conversations and collaborations. I hope that the Learning Commons will facilitate more of those rich and fruitful collaborations among students,” said Newday.

The hours for the Learning Commons are Sundays 12pm-11pm and Mondays through Thursdays 6pm-10pm.

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New Learning Commons Fosters Collaboration