Academic Learning Commons provides high-tech addition to campus

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The state-of-the-art Academic Learning Commons, Virginia Commonwealth University’s newest building, sets a new standard for technological advancement in the university’s facilities.

The building, which is located at 1000 Floyd Ave., is equipped with touch panel multimedia controllers, interactive podiums and wall-sized digital display screens that allow simultaneous viewing of multiple applications. The glass entry doors open to contemporary architecture – glass walls, an open staircase and intimate student lounge areas – furnished with user-friendly desks and chairs, strategically placed on all four floors of the 102,000-square-foot building.

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., said the amenities are important because they help put students in position to find success. “Physical learning space and technology have become very important to that.”

The first two floors house rooms of various sizes, from 60-seat classrooms to 383-seat auditoriums – small, medium and large lecture halls, collaboration meeting spaces – featuring state-of-the-art technology. The third floor is the new home to the School of Social Work, now equipped with observation rooms that allow students to discreetly observe interviews or consultations. The fourth floor houses the Center for Teaching Excellence and the University College’s Writing Center.  

“We could not be happier to be in a facility that provides 21st century technology and an environment that is equal to the quality of education that the school has provided over the last 96 years,” said James Hinterlong, Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Social Work, at a recent ceremony celebrating the new facility. “We look forward to finding strategies that work with each of you and your organizations, to find the best in ourselves and the best in others, to transform this community through the work done at VCU and with our community partners.”

The VCU School of Social Work, the flagship school on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus, is ranked 11th nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

The Academic Learning Commons optimizes the vision for the Center for Teaching Excellence, which promotes and encourages use of technology and learning, while engaging with schools, departments and other student success-related programs to foster and sustain a culture of teaching excellence.

“This facility provides students with unprecedented opportunities to collaborate with others on and off campus,” said Gardner Campbell, Ph.D., vice provost for learning innovation and student success, who provides leadership for the Center for Teaching Excellence. “The furniture is designed to allow students to turn in different directions to engage in discussions, and each room has the ability to participate in a Web conferencing, real-time streaming, that allows faculty to push out content to the Web.”


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