“This is no longer the quiet place,” Roger Ashcraft, assistant in the iLearn Commons, said of his new workspace. “This area is designed for group collaboration.”
Located on the second floor of Loden-Daniel Library in the area formerly devoted to children’s literature, the Commons opened to students near the end of the spring semester. It has five collaborative areas, each arranged around HDTVs with wireless connectivity. Three additional spaces at the collaboration bar are outfitted with HDTVs, Ethernet connectivity and charging stations. Comfortable rolling chairs and a conference table furnish the space.
Ashcraft provides assistance in using technology for academic projects. He even makes “house” calls. This spring he visited Jamie Holtin’s Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics class to instruct students in movie-making. “One of the things that excites me about the iLearn Commons is that it gives my students a place to get technical help with projects, which frees me to focus on the content,” Holtin said. She appreciates having support available during the time of day students are most likely to be working on projects—afternoon and evening. “I also like that Roger will come and talk to my class and then he is in the Commons to assist them,” she said. “It keeps the instructions consistent.”
Currently, the iLearn Commons is first-come, first-served, although students with technological assignments in general education classes have first priority. When demand increases in the fall, another system may be employed. Ashcraft is available to help students at the “genius bar” Monday-Thursday, 1-10 p.m. and Friday, 1-5 p.m., during the regular semester.
The iLearn Commons was developed in conjunction with the iLearn Program, a part of the university’s five-year Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). FHU’s QEP seeks to determine the effects of technology in the classroom. Teachers of general education courses are being trained to use technology more effectively and student learning is being assessed. The QEP and iLearn are under the direction of Dr. Monte Tatom.
“In my opinion,” Ashcraft said, “this is going to be a very useful space.”