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Learning Commons, Student Success Center Provide New Opportunities at ODU

This week Old Dominion University opened the Learning Commons, a state-of-the art collaborative educational space, and the Student Success Center, a cross-campus partnership that provides undergraduate students with programs and individualized assistance. Both spaces, built as additions to Perry Library, provide an environment where learning is accessible and collaborative and offer the latest technology and resources.

University Librarian Virginia O'Herron believes that the Learning Commons presents a wonderful opportunity for ODU's students and faculty. "Bringing together library, information technology and campus academic support services, it offers new and collaborative learning experiences in an exciting new space," she said.

David Metzger, dean of the ODU Honors College and interim dean of academic enhancement, said the Learning Commons and Student Success Center provide ODU students not only with places to study, but also the resources to learn how to study.

"Our goal is to create an environment where the student can take charge of his or her educational experience," he said. "This goal doesn't reduce our responsibilities to our students. In fact, we'll know that we've succeeded if the Learning Commons and Student Success Center engage students, staff and faculty in an ongoing conversation about what the space can become and all that we can accomplish together during their educational journey."

The Learning Commons space is unlike anything currently on campus. Team-based furniture and flexible workstations give students the ability to configure their own work and study space. "We've built a space that facilitates collaboration and social interaction, supports individual study and enhances the teaching, learning and research experiences of our students and faculty," said O'Herron.

The Learning Commons is also equipped with plenty of quiet spaces and will soon open a café featuring indoor and outdoor seating.

Specific services to aid students in their academic endeavors are a hallmark of the new Learning Commons. After Oct. 1, a date for the Learning Commons to be open 24 hours a day from Sunday through Thursday will be announced (with Friday and Saturday hours remaining the same as for Perry Library). At the help desk, students can request research and technology tutorials and reference services, and can check out iPads, cameras and camcorders. The space contains a presentation room, where students can review and critique each other's work, as well as seven collaboration rooms equipped with laptop hookups and a flat-panel TV.

A Multi-Media Innovation Lab with 12 high-end Mac computers and a sound booth, putting the best technology at students' fingertips, will open soon at the Learning Commons. Also coming soon are the Math and Science Resource Center, which will offer tutoring for 100-level math courses and 100-200 level chemistry courses, as well as Writing Tutorial Services, which will assist undergraduate students in all disciplines on essay composition, test preparation, seminar papers and dissertations. The Learning Commons is also home to a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) stations.

The Student Success Center, located in a newly constructed space behind Perry library, brings together a variety of campus resources for student academic achievement in one central location. The center represents a partnership between the Academic Affairs and the Student Engagement and Enrollment Services divisions.

According to Metzger, the new center provides ODU undergraduates with staff and resources for building their own academic success team. This includes peer mentors, research apprenticeships, online tutoring, advisers and accessibility services. "The center will be of tremendous value for the undergraduate experience," he said.

The first floor of the center contains the offices of New Student and Parent Programs, Educational Accessibility, Experiential Learning and Testing, the Peer Educators Program, and ODU's new Sophomore Success Program. The first year of college is critical to any student's academic success, and the New Student and Parent Programs office is an advocate for both students and parents, helping students find and access various university resources. The Office of Educational Accessibility provides accommodations and services for students with disabilities, including, testing, self-advocacy and study assistance, electronic textbooks, scribing and brailing, and temporary mobility assistance.

Located on the second floor, the ODU Honors College offers undergraduates the benefits of a small liberal arts college within the framework of a large, research-intensive university. Also housed nearby are the Office of Advising and Transfer Programs, which provides advising support for prospective and transfer students, and the Office of Student Support Services. Services provided by this office include the Federal TRIO Programs, outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

These new resources at Perry Library together provide the best that ODU has to offer in one central location, Metzger said. "The Learning Commons and Student Success Center are both cooperative efforts, and we are excited by the promise of developing our additional partnerships with the academic colleges, student leadership, faculty, staff and other university departments and divisions.

"But what is even more exciting is that the Learning Commons and Student Success Center are places where students go to take charge of their educational plans and goals," he added.

Tue, 09/13/2011 10:10am