Editor's note: This is an expanded excerpt from the cover story on Lopes Live Labs in the August 2021 issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.
Lopes Live Labs resonate through every college and business enterprise on the Grand Canyon University campus. They put the experience in the GCU experience. In the final installment of our seven-part series, we wrap up how the remaining colleges have incorporated this important learning tool:
College of Theology
The GCU Recording Studio has produced the annual Canyon Worship albums for five years and has enabled Worship Arts students to record solo work.
“This is a top-notch, professional studio,” said Joseph Vaught, one of the student artists on Canyon Worship 2021, scheduled to be released in September. “There are plenty of songs on the radio made in lesser studios than our studio.
“If I were to go to any other studio in town, I’d be mopping floors for two years. I’d touch a cable after three years. Four years, then I might get to touch the mikes and do some stuff. As a student, I got to mess with hundreds of thousands of dollars of gear, which is just mind-blowing.”
Now he’s a graduate, and he’s going to help people from across the University get similar access as a full-time employee and the coordinator of the new GCU Recording Lab, adjacent to the Recording Studio. It will be open for assignments, film projects, podcasts, individual songs, you name it.
“Really, anything,” Recording Studio Manager Eric Johnson said as he watched a handful of students put it together late last month.
The room will be divided into four soundproof pods of varying sizes. They’ll be available for a nominal fee, similar to the Esports Arena – “Less than the cost of a Chick fil- A meal,” Johnson said – and will include microphones with stands and interfaces, guitar stands and audio workstations with state-of-the-art technology.
“The reason for that pay wall is to make it serious,” Johnson said. “There definitely will be some professionalism surrounding this space, so we expect students to respect it.”
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
The Writing Center (Building 16, Room 201) is open to all students. Instructional assistants offer guidance on writing mechanics, style and formatting. Appointments can be scheduled through Career Connections and walk-ins are welcome.
The ELL Center (Building 16, Room 203) offers help to students who speak English as a second language, providing supplemental academic support in grammar, sentence structure, organization, formatting, brainstorming, word choice, APA formatting, transitions and research.
The Math Center’s (Building 16, rooms 202 and 204) instructional assistants and faculty provide supplemental academic support to students at all math levels — from those who struggle with college algebra to those who need extra help with calculus or statistics.
“Students who attend these centers are more successful in their classes than those who do not. Most who come to the centers on regular basis pass their class,” said Jake Thompson, who is joined by Esther Kuehl as coordinators of the Writing Center and ELL Center.
College of Doctoral Studies
While pursuing a doctorate, getting hands-on experience and engaging with other professionals is a valuable resource.
Through multiple residencies, online learners are required spend a week on campus attending courses and establishing a plan for their approaching dissertations.
“It’s like a building, if the foundation is right then you can build the rest of the building on the right foundation,” said Doctoral Residency Co-Director and Doctor of Education Program Chair Dr. Wayne Schmidt. “The residencies really focus on the foundation. Let’s get your research off on a good start, get a good foundation and then, as you move forward, you’re going to be able to build much easier.”
Each residency, which contains a weeklong on-campus component, also has a two-week reflection period immediately following that allows learners to really focus on what they learned while on campus.
It’s a unique approach that Schmidt says makes all the difference for GCU doctoral learners.
“That idea of building relationships, we think is essential,” he said. “There are long lasting relationships that come out of residency. It serves almost a dual purpose; first is it gives them someone who they can ask for help from when they need it, and second it’s that point of accountability.”
Equally as important to relationship building is the concept of implementation, which is done in the two weeks following residency.
“The idea of learning that takes place in a vacuum is never good,” Schmidt said. “You have to be able to take the learning and give it application. Take what you learn here and implement it, which gives you practice, which means you can start to see ‘Oh, so that’s how all that works.’”
With the Honors College bringing together students from all fields of study, the implementation of a Lopes Live Lab would have to benefit students of all different majors. Thus, the Honors Collaboration Center was created.
Mirroring a business conference room, students have access to white boards, projectors and presentation screens to create the collaborative feel of the professional world. The space allows for students to present ideas, brainstorm and work together with their peers on a multitude of different projects and initiatives.
“The Honors College has an intentionally crafted strategy around integrating experiential learning opportunities into the undergraduate experience, and it’s essential for us to provide opportunities for our students to connect, engage with other majors and move learned theory into application,” said Honors College Associate Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli. “We wanted a space for or honors students to gather and get creative.”
This unique working space allows students to become accustomed to the feel of collaborative workspaces outside of an academic setting while also maintaining the flexibility to utilize the space for academic purposes. It’s a concept that sets GCU’s Honors College apart.
“It’s common to see other Honors programs with dedicated library space or study space and it certainly promotes academic excellence,” Naegeli said. “However, I think our Honors Collaboration center further provides a uniquely integrative working space that mirrors what outside industry entails … it’s all about being actionable and bringing those ideas to life.”
Rick Vacek, Mike Kilen and Ashlee Larrison contributed to this report.
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