‘Bigger, better’ Owens Learning Center earns student approvalWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | email@example.com
The recent expansion and renovation of Owens Community College’s Downtown educational facility, completed for the start of spring semester, has been a hit with students and staff alike, the site’s director says.
“It’s been working out really, really well,” said Willie Williams, director of Owens Community College Learning Center at The Source, located at 1301 Monroe St. “The students have really responded to it. They are appreciative of the changes.”
In January, the learning center debuted two additional classrooms, a new computer lab and an expanded lounge area. The renovation also relocated and improved the center’s state-tested nursing assistant classroom.
The 12,726-square-foot center now features eight classrooms, three computer labs, two offices, one reception area and one experiential learning classroom specific to the state-tested nursing assistant curriculum, according to a news release.
“We definitely want to make sure we are accommodating our students here and making sure we have all the resources that will better enable them to succeed,” Williams said. “We also wanted to show the rest of the community that we have resources available to them.”
The center, which opened in fall semester 2007, allows Owens students to take certain classes Downtown instead of at the Toledo campus in Perrysburg. This semester, about 600 students are enrolled in more than 68 courses, which are offered in the mornings, afternoons and evenings, Williams said.
The new nursing classroom is the piece of the renovation project Williams is most proud of.
The previous classroom was simply a space created by temporary walls, which allowed noises to carry over and passersby to peek in; the new space is a walled classroom away from noise and traffic, Williams said.
Brenda Liggins, who is studying medical assisting at the center, said the new classroom is an improvement.
“It’s bigger and way more spacious,” Liggins said. “It’s easier to concentrate. Now we have our own little classroom.”
The classroom also includes an adjacent lab area where practice mannequins and other equipment can be stored and easily accessed.
“The instructors have told me numerous times that this is the best set-up for them because if a student is not really understanding what they are reading or doing, they can just walk through the doorway and they’re in their nursing lab,” Williams said.
Each new classroom also features a state-of-the-art multimedia Extron Control Panel, which includes a computer, Blu-ray DVD player, audio amplifier and digital document camera — like an overhead projector but able to project a piece of paper without having to first make it a transparent slide. Owens intends to install the technology in all the classrooms eventually, Williams said.
The addition of a computer lab set aside for students to study, research and do homework was a welcome change from before when students shared computer time with classes and placement testing sessions, Williams said.
Alisha King, a criminal justice and corrections major, recalls having to stop her work, pack her belongings and move in and out of the labs as they were needed for other purposes.
“I’m glad we got a lab that’s open constantly,” King said. “Now it’s just easier.”
The expanded lounge area is also popular with students, Williams said.
“We made it a little more comfortable, added more tables and chairs, some flat-screen TVs and computers along the wall, so it makes it more inviting,” Williams said.
King said she appreciates the new amenities.
“There’s just more room — a whole lot more room actually,” King said. “Students can just relax and have a place to chill after class.”
Liggins said she likes to study in the lounge.
“You can just go back there and study and it’s real quiet,” Liggins said. “There’s always a computer available to get work done so it’s very convenient.”
The renovation was designed by Stough and Stough Architects of Sylvania and MDA Engineering Inc. of Maumee; Van Tassel Construction Corp. of Sylvania was the general contractor, according to the release.
The cost for the renovation was $51,000, with funding coming from Owens’ general fund, said Brad Meyer, director of public and media relations.
King said she loves the center.
“Everybody down here is very helpful,” King said. “They try their best to get you where you need to be.”
For more information, visit www.owens.edu.