Learn, create, collaborate! The Commons is a partnership between the University Libraries and the Office of Information Technology to connect students, staff, and faculty with the tools they need to be successful
The Commons is designed to be a multi-phased project that changes to meet student needs and technological advances.
In 2005, the University Libraries and Office of Information Technology collaborated to create a new kind of learning environment for students. The former Reserve and Periodicals areas on the 2nd floor of Hodges Library were repurposed to accommodate group study tables, 80 workstations, equipment checkout, and services ranging from research and writing help to a variety of technology services. The goal was to bring together the many services students need to do research, communicate, and complete assignments. In the intervening years the Commons has become a bustling hub of activity, open 24-hours five nights a week and providing an ever-growing array of services.
The Commons offers equipment for checkout such as laptops, scanners, calculators, cameras, video equipment, and more.
Beginning in 2006, Phases II and III of the Commons included structural changes, added ports and electricity, and a technology-rich environment with new equipment and mobile furniture. The addition of a practice presentation room with a large screen, sympodium and video conferencing unit allowed students to practice presentations and conduct online meetings and interviews. The Libraries’ media production lab, The Studio, gained more equipment and began operating on the Commons’ 24/5 schedule. The opening of a Starbucks and branch of the UT Bookstore provided students with fuel around the clock.
Changes in teaching and learning models have driven development of the Commons, and the Commons, in turn, has informed teaching practices. More and more university classes require group projects, and more assignments incorporate student-created media. Phase III ties Commons services and spaces together with additional group space, specialized collaborative equipment, greater visibility for media production capabilities and spaces dedicated to academic support.
Commons Phase III renovates the entire 2nd floor of Hodges Library creating a Main Street of frequently used services down the central corridor. This renovation combines like services and aligns service desks along a logical, visible path in which academic and technology support intersect. Incorporating the entire 2nd floor in the renovation, gives us the chance to arrange technologies, services, and expertise in ways that are conducive to both formal and informal learning while providing students with the resources they need when and where they need them most.
In addition to Main Street services, there are specialized spaces throughout The Commons. Expanding on the idea of creating a comprehensive learning center for students, the foundation of Commons Phase I, the Phase III renovation brings students a wealth of academic support options designed to engage students in their own education and to keep them on track for graduation. These academic support options include tutoring as well as referral to advising and counseling services.
This renovation also enhanced existing Studio services to accommodate a growing number of media assignments in the classroom. Students are able to use specialized recording studios and a production space to create podcasts and online presentations. There is now also a Virtual Space and a whisper room.
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