Learning Commons to open next week

UMD is now one step closer to creating a space where students can receive all the essential services they need in one location: the second floor of the library. This idea is known as a “Learning Commons.” Students will now be able to find academic help in the Tutoring Center, writing tips from the Writers’ Workshop, technology help from the Multimedia Hub and research help from the new and revamped Research and Information desk, formerly known as the Reference Desk.

UMD Library Director Matt Rosendahl thinks the concept of a Learning Commons has a lot to offer to both students and faculty.

“Someone receives a project and they come to the library to research; (they) come to the Tutoring Center to help master the subject, they go to the Writers’ Workshop to help with their writing and script, and then they go to the Media Hub for help with the technology,” Rosendahl said.

Rosendahl is most excited to see how students make use of the space and the services that are available to them.

“I am excited to watch the space evolve and address those needs as they evolve,” Rosendahl said.

One big change for the area will be the new furniture, which is designed to be flexible. All the chairs and tables will have wheels, in order to allow students to arrange the furniture to best fit their needs. Each of the walls will also have many outlets and USB ports to better address students’ technology needs.

“This is a space for collaborative work and the services add value to that collaborative work,” Rosendahl said. “We are trying to accommodate all different learning styles.”

Tom Ambrosi, head of Reference Services, thinks all these services under one roof will promote student success.

“I am interested in seeing the synergy of having all the different services together and getting the students here and excited about what they can accomplish with our assistance,” Ambrosi said.

Ambrosi explained that the name change of the Reference Desk to the Research and Information Desk will help clarify the services that can be provided: “We had a lot of students coming who didn’t understand what exactly reference is, so this just helps students know what our function is,” he said.

Another significant change is the creation of the Writers’ Workshop, which was formerly known as the Writing Workshop. Previously, the workshop was tailored specifically to students who were in the WRIT 1120 course, mainly freshmen. Now, it is a service that reaches across all disciplines and levels of writing.

Jill Jenson, faculty liaison for writing and learning, said the workshop’s new mission is to serve the entire campus.

“We serve the entire campus community because we all write,” Jenson said. “Everybody needs a reader, so we are trying to get across that we welcome any writer, at any level, from any discipline for a collaborative conversation about their writing.”

Jenson explained the goal of the Writers’ Workshop is not to fix papers for students, but is to set up papers so students can leave with some writing strategies and know what has to be done to improve their work.

The workshop is made up of consultants who are either faculty members or graduate students. If students would like to set up a one-on-one appointment, they can now go online to www.d.umn.edu/writwork, where they will have the option to pick their consultant, date and time.

Claudia Martin, Tutoring Center director, wants to make sure that students feel welcome in the Tutoring Center, even if they are just studying. That way, if a question comes up, the tutors are right there to help.

Martin described the idea of the Learning Commons as “one-stop student shopping.”

“The thing that is really cool about this space is that when tutoring is done, students can stay and study in groups, whereas before, when tutoring was over, they were kicked out and there might have been a few tears,” Martin said.

There will be a Learning Commons open house on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 3-4:30 p.m. on the second floor of the library.

The open house will feature remarks from Chancellor Black and Executive Vice Chancellor Andrea Schokker. UMD mascot Champ will also be present to give tours around the space.

Faculty members from the different departments will be present to not only answer questions but to get feedback and suggestions of how they can better provide services.




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