September 20, 2020

BY KRISTIN MILANI

It hasn’t gone 3-D yet, but Conestoga’s Learning Commons still celebrated its new virtual services and other changes on Sept. 6.

Staff, student leaders, interns and many others gathered on that day to reveal the new improvements at the grand re-opening. After six months, renovations to create an open and collaborative space are finished, a virtual learning experience has launched and rebranding of the service is complete.

Learning Commons manager Bonnie Lipton-Bos opened the event with a speech to announce the changes, talked about what the Learning Commons is all about and thanked those who made it all possible. Conestoga President John Tibbits also spoke at the event.

“The passion of your staff is something to behold. Everyone here, I can feel it, you believe in what you’re doing,” Tibbits said.

Lipton-Bos looked at the grand re-opening as an opportunity to raise awareness about the department, its services and who it can help. She said the services will benefit all students and not just those who are having difficulty or struggling.

“We really wanted to redefine our services,” she said.

Lipton-Bos said she doesn’t find recruiting professionals and student leaders hard but does find it challenging to keep people informed about the Learning Commons and serving all four campuses.

The department originated in 2006 and began operating appointment-based services. Students meet one on one with staff members who specialize in their fields or student leaders who are successful in their programs. They are hired to help students grow and succeed, academically and in life.

The services available are learning skills, peer tutoring, peer supported learning groups, English conversation partners and math and writing help. Bachelor of business student Matt Davis is one of the math leaders and enjoys working with the students to improve their skills.

“If they’re able to understand, it makes me happy because I was able to teach them something,” Davis said.

eLearning Res consultant Michele Brannon-Hamilton came up with the idea to create a new way for the Learning Commons to offer its services in 2011. The Virtual Learning Commons was created so students can get the help they need at all hours of the day and now they can do just that.

“We want students to be able to access our resources and tools anywhere, anytime,” Lipton-Bos said.

Computer application development student and web developer intern Paul Ramcharitar spent 621 hours between May and August helping create the Virtual Learning Commons. Ramcharitar said the virtual aspect will allow students to get information faster. He also believes that the Learning Commons is beneficial to everyone.

“We know we can do better at something we’re already good at and with the Learning Commons, we can improve even further,” Ramcharitar said.

The Virtual Learning Commons will be launching in phases to ensure it runs properly. The Learning Commons staff is looking for people to test the features and give feedback on how they work. They will be recruiting volunteers to be part of the beta testing group at the Get Involved Fair from Sept. 19-20 at the college.