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COC kicks off first day of classes

Posted: August 28, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: August 28, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Angela Grigoryan leads a computer-assisted algebra class in a classroom at the new Learning Center at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Monday.

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As College of the Canyons opened its doors for the first day of the 2012-13 school year Monday, a centerpiece on the Valencia campus was the newly opened $16 million tutoring lab, dubbed the “TLC” for The Learning Center.

“The open floor plan is really nice, and because it’s all glass, you can actually see the sun,” said Paul Suarez, a 28-year-old Valencia man who is studying engineering. “It doesn’t feel like you’re working in a dungeon.”

But an 800-percent increase in square footage, more than 400 additional computers and nearly a dozen state-of-the-art “instructional labs” or classrooms have many practical advantages, as well, Suarez said.

The expanded and upgraded TLC part of phase one of the campus library expansion. The additional gear and space have eliminated what was, in the past, a lengthy wait to use the campus’ computer equipment. And the new classrooms in the TLC have computers equipped to handle memory-intensive software required for some statistics and programming classes, he said.

The whole goal of the new center is to provide as many academic services to students as possible, said James Glapa-Grossklag, dean of educational technology.

“We want the attitude to be, ‘I’m in a serious place,’” Glapa-Grossklag said. “It’s a privilege to be in higher education, and you need to take this place seriously.”

Demand for classes at the campus has never been higher, according to school officials. There are currently approximately 15,000 students enrolled, and thousands more are trying to add classes with the fall semester now under way.

The TLC expansion was funded 60 percent through voter-approved Measure M (approximately $9.6 million) and the rest from matching state dollars, according to COC officials.

The new 41,000-square-foot facility also offers several smaller study rooms with a 41-inch monitor attached to a camera and computer. So, for example, a group of students may film a presentation, email it to a teacher for feedback and receive a response all in one sitting, he said.

The services offered in the center are more than just a resource for students, said Joseph Larsen, a 22-year-old COC grad who now works in the lab while he studies bioengineering at UCLA.

The resources are also a way for students to really explore learning on their own and discover their goals, he said.

For Larsen, his time as a tutor in COC’s old TLC made the West Ranch High School grad realize he wanted to go back and earn a master’s degree so he could come back and teach math after he earns his bachelor’s.

“I just didn’t have the passion I found coming into work here, doing anything else,” Larsen said. “And, here, you can share that with other students. That’s what The Learning Center really does.”

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