The Learning Commons: A New, Collaborative Study Space on Campus

Joel Boehner (’05) has a vision for Bethel’s new Learning Commons. He’s hoping it will be a one-stop shop for academic and technological support for students this fall.

As the director of peer tutoring services on campus, Boehner has worked with Bethel’s Information Technology department (IT) to come up with a new way to utilize the space in the computer lab more efficiently.

“Computer lab usage is not as high as it used to be,” says Boehner. “Students have laptops and tablets now.”

Boehner also says that revamping the space will help meet the current needs of students.

“They need a place to study individually and in groups,” he says.

While students use the library, the newly created space at Sufficient Grounds Café and other smaller meeting spaces on campus, Boehner says this new space will hopefully increase collaborative and creative thinking as well as give students another space to study. It’s something Kathy Gribbin, Ph.D. (’76), former vice president of life calling and student enrichment, was working with Boehner to develop on campus during the last academic year.

“This is a way to honor Kathy,” says Boehner. “This is a project that she was passionate about before she passed away.”

The Learning Commons will house amenities like:  a casual seating area, lap top bar, small study group rooms, a student-oriented conference room and individual and two person carrels that can be reserved to work with a tutor. In addition, Boehner wants to ramp up the tutoring services offered to students.

“We’re going to offer tutoring in as many areas as we can,” says the former Bethel history major.

Currently Boehner supervises 10 student tutors, and he’s hoping to add several more next fall. He says subjects other than writing have not yet offered drop-in tutoring, and he’s hoping to fulfill a need for math and science tutoring support as well.

The estimated $100,000 project was jumpstarted by a $50,000 matching gift from an anonymous donor. Construction began after graduation and is expected to be completed before students come back to campus in August.

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