Touted as a “classroom of the future,” the new Digital Learning Studio at Santa Monica College opened on the first day of the fall semester.

Using technology such as iPads, SMART interactive whiteboards and Response clickers, high-definition video, and mobile furniture, a group of SMC professors has embarked on a pilot project they say is designed to engage students, particularly basic skills students, in ways not seen in traditional classrooms.

Funded by a federal Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions Program grant, the new digital studio is modeled after “The Hyperstruction Studio” at the University of California at Riverside.

“It’s mind blowing. We’re using a fast, visual and exciting means of teaching that seeks to duplicate the way that students communicate today,” said Regina Jennings, project manager for the grant.

Ten classes have been scheduled in the 32-seat studio, including basic skills math, intermediate algebra, basic skills English and several communication courses.

The technology, along with the furniture on wheels that allows students to work in groups in different configurations, delivers not only content in an interactive way but also stimulates faculty experimentation and creativity, studio professors note.

“The Digital Learning Studio allows the instructors to interact in a fluid way, but also allows students to interact with the lesson plans in individual and collaborative ways,” said Al DeSalles, manager of media and reprographic services, who has spearheaded the project with Jennings.

DeSalles said that professors in the classroom have each been given an iPad. In addition, eight iPads have been purchased for students — one for every four, allowing for collaborative learning.

Jennings said the goals of the Digital Learning Studio project are to help basic skills students, produce higher levels of student retention rates, and improve the transfer rate for students who need the most academic support.

Information about the learning studio, www.smc.edu/dls/.

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