You see the College’s eye-popping new space well before you get there. The first sign of it is visible from the Atrium of the Whitney Applied Technology Center. An illuminated stock ticker bordering a new set of four windows grabs your attention. A journey up to the second floor reveals the stunning new learning center known as “WhiTn3y Commons.” The upper case “T” and numeral “3” in its name are intentional. They represent Teaching, Technology and Teamwork.
Step inside WhiTn3y Commons and you immediately feel the energy. It’s a business class unlike any you’ve ever seen before. The bright white lights and red and green arrows of a stock ticker constantly scroll across the top of the room. A backlit map dominates one wall and gives professors ways to show visual learners how financial transactions on one side of the world ripple across the globe. Large touch screens and monitors surround the active collaboration area. There is a monitor at each of the six tables students sit at during class and work together on projects. Each table has outlets built-in where students can charge their cell phones and computers during class. There’s also a small classroom off to the side which is separated with sliding wall panels allowing classes to be held simultaneously. “Before seeing this space, our students might never have realized that a work environment could look and feel like this,” said J.T. Ryan, Chair of OCC’s Business Administration department. “The Commons shows them the kind of workplace we want them to aspire to.”
Professors in the Business major have taken full advantage of the new space, holding classes there as often as possible. They’re seeing students engage in meaningful conversations and work in groups like never before. The design and technology in the room are making a huge difference in the learning experience. “Whatever I put on the monitors, they become a magnet to the student’s eyes,” said Professor Jim Carey. “As a teacher you love those moments when you see every student in the room is tuned in.”
Diane Lindsay is an adult learner who is on track to graduate in May 2016. She’s taken business classes in traditional classrooms and now in WhiTn3y Commons. “I love this room. The acoustics are great. It’s easy to pay attention and get more out of what we are working on. The opportunity to work together resembles what we’ll see in the work world. We all get so much out of this.”
Other students are enjoying the experience as well. Abraham Teah is a freshman from Fowler High School who appreciates the visual learning opportunities the room presents. “I like the ticker. It helps me to be able to see the stocks and their values. The world map helps too when our professor uses it to show us where things are happening in relations to us.”
Michael Walter came to OCC from Liverpool High School. The sophomore is a big fan of the WhiTn3y Commons experience. “I enjoy the modernized environment. It’s engaging and creates a better atmosphere. Putting us in groups and having us work together feels like what we will experience in the real world.”
In its freshman year, WhiTn3y Commons has quickly become the shiny new place to see and a wonderful learning environment for students. “I know this room will spark a conversation across campus about our passion for making sure our students have the best,” said College President Dr. Casey Crabill. “Students come to us with big dreams and big goals. Rooms like this show them how serious we are about helping them achieve what they want.”