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New center at West campus serves students' tech needs


OLEg tech center
September 25, 2013

A new technology support center in Fletcher Library on ASU’s West campus is designed to meet the needs of students taking online and hybrid courses through the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, while also supporting the faculty members who teach those courses.

The center is an initiative of OLEg, the Online Education Group, which began in 2008 as a support team for online teaching in New College. The existence of OLEg was critical to the success of the 2010 launch of the college’s fully online bachelor’s degree program in psychology, which has proven extremely popular. In May, the online psychology degree celebrated its first class of graduating students.

The OLEg Technology Support Center is located behind Starbucks on the first floor of Fletcher Library. Part of its focus is to serve students in the online psychology program. Several course assistants provide help with tutoring, reviewing students’ course assignments and supporting students who are taking statistics.

But the center is open to any student taking a New College class, whether it is online or not. Eventually, the staff of OLEg hopes to provide services to the entire West campus.

“Students can walk in and get assistance with Blackboard and Learning Studio issues,” said Kathy Grimes, manager of instructional design and online learning for the support center. “Whatever class they are taking, our goal is for technology to make it easier for students to take the class, not harder.” OLEg also provides service online, using Adobe Connect.

The facility includes a soundproof area where faculty can record lectures, course tours or brief videos for both their Learning Studio and Blackboard courses. There is a large area to host training sessions for faculty, and students may schedule times to use special software.

Plans call for the support center to continue adding services in the coming months. New College’s statistics lab, currently located in the CLCC Building, is expected to be combined with OLEg in Fletcher Library in time for the start of the spring 2014 semester.

Majia Nadesan, New College assistant dean, says a social media lab will be established in conjunction with OLEg as well. “We want to provide a place where students can learn to put theories of communication and persuasion into practice using information technology and social media,” she said.

While adding services for students, OLEg has remained true to its mission of supporting faculty who incorporate technology into their teaching. Services to faculty include helping create courses on Blackboard and Learning Studio, syllabus review, online course design and implementation, support during the semester, and creating and editing videos to be used as course content.

Grimes convenes OLEg meetings of interested faculty and support personnel multiple times each semester. “It’s a forum for us to workshop new ideas and discuss issues with online teaching,” she said.

Having her work space in Fletcher Library represents an experience of coming full circle for Grimes. She started her career at the West campus as a student worker in the Computing Commons, which at the time was known as Technopolis.

Dennis Isbell, the library’s director, welcomes the opportunity to host OLEg. “I am glad the Fletcher Library can partner with New College to host another valuable service to the campus community within Fletcher,” he said. “The addition of OLEg has completed our goal of bringing into our space various learning services for students. The Fletcher Library wants to be a place centered on learning and interacting with a variety of services and people.”

OLEg hours for the fall semester are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. One-on-one appointments may be scheduled at newcollege.asu.edu/oleg-appointments. The center may be reached at (602) 543-6283.