The Santa Monica College Modern Languages and Cultures Department has been named the recipient of the college’s first-ever President’s Circle Award for Innovation and Progress.

The $25,000 award will be used to purchase a three-year license for SANSSpace, a web-based program that will provide students all-day access to lab resources, track usage and assign lab credit, double lab seating virtually without increasing physical space, and provide additional resources to enhance both teaching and student learning, SMC officials said.

“Our department is honored to be given this award,” said Toni Trives, chair of the Modern Language and Cultures Department. “The 24-hour student access to our lab resources is a boon to our program and will immeasurably help our students speak, write and think better in the many languages we offer.”

The SMC Foundation created the new annual award for projects that enhance student learning in innovative ways.

“The new grant is encouraging departments across campus to think collectively and work collaboratively to find novel and innovative ways to serve our students,” said SMC Foundation Interim Executive Director Chip Potts.

Spanish professor Maria Erickson, who spearheaded the effort to receive the award, said that the SANSSpace program will allow students to meet their 15-hour-per-semester lab attendance requirement more easily, particularly when they are juggling demanding school and work schedules and the language lab hours on campus are limited.

In addition, the program will encourage students to practice speaking out loud more than they do in the lab, Erickson said.

The Modern Languages and Cultures Department offers instruction in 13 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Persian, Russian, Hebrew and Turkish.

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