In August 2013, William Jewell unveiled Pryor Learning Commons, a 26,000 square-foot intellectual center that places students at the forefront of innovation in higher education. The newest addition to the Quad was the centerpiece of Jewell’s “Shaping the Journey” campaign. The fully donor-funded building now serves as the intellectual center of campus where students gather, learn and create 24 hours a day with virtually unlimited cutting-edge resources.
These resources are a testament to a new culture of learning—one where immersion and engagement trump the days of students being lectured to in classrooms and memorizing content from textbooks and professors. The College has both acknowledged and embraced this educational evolution that goes beyond the acquisition of content and moves students from dependence in their educational experience toward independence as mature learners.
“The Pryor Learning Commons provides an atmosphere in which the focus is learning,” said President David Sallee. “The embedding of collaboration and creativity in our courses takes advantage of this generation’s learning styles and uses faculty in the ways they are most valuable: as facilitators, collaborators and resources for learning.”
Innovation in Action
In Pryor Learning Commons’ innovation studios, students sit around wirelessly connected white board tables instead of front-facing rows of desks. The professor, technology and classroom design facilitate interactive and collaborative learning, even in unexpected subjects such as chemistry. Outside the classroom, collaboration stations allow students to work wirelessly in groups and share computer screens. In recording and editing suites, theatre and music majors can compose and edit music, film and other media. In addition to various suites ideal for meetings and tutoring sessions, the Commons houses numerous study-friendly and gathering areas, complete with sofas, fireplaces, scenic views and Starbucks.
“Every floor is full of the tools we have always wanted —flat screen TVs so we can project our laptop notes, top-of-the-line digital video and audio production tools, study rooms coated in white board walls — and even those that we never imagined, like a 3D printer,” said junior Alexander Bush, Student Senate president. “It’s one thing for a school to invest so heavily in technology, but it’s another to allow it to be so accessible to students. The ability to push information to six different TVs around a room at once has changed the way I’ve led meetings, studied with groups for tests and even how I’ve watched Chiefs football games!”