|Sherry Robinson, Special Assistant to the Provost and Interim Director of the Studio for Academic Creativity|
|Sherry Robinson, Special Assistant to the Provost and interim Director of the Studio for Academic Creativity, is featured in this ongoing series designed to allow EKU leaders and others in prominent positions to discuss their roles as well as campus issues. Robinson, who came to EKU in 1993 as a part-time faculty member and joined the faculty full time in 1995, holds a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Middle Tennessee State University, a master's degree in English from EKU, and a doctoral degree in English from the University of Kentucky.|
As interim director for the Studio, what are your primary responsibilities as of now?
I lead a multidisciplinary team that is developing the Noel Studio’s curricular structure, physical space design, and operational infrastructure. I also facilitate the increasing number of promotional efforts. Since the Studio is one of the funded Quality Enhancement Programs, I coordinate with the Quality Enhancement Programs Director and I serve on the Thinking and Communicating across the Curriculum Advisory Committee. Finally, the Dean of University Programs, the Dean of Libraries, and I work together to ensure that the Noel Studio is progressing on schedule.
How will the Studio enrich and transform the educational experience of our students? What will they able to do there?
The Noel Studio will provide a unique opportunity for EKU students to improve their communication skills. Students frequently encounter assignments that require them to write a paper or to give an individual or group presentation. Most of these assignments require incorporating good information. Rather than go to individual centers that focus on one aspect of the assignment, students will be able to work in the creative environment of the Studio to develop, refine, support, organize, and articulate their ideas. There will be spaces to creatively and tactilely envision and revision their ideas; to video themselves as they practice their presentations; and to find credible and relevant information for their projects. Trained Studio staff will be available to guide students through all of these activities.
Why is it important that students be able to improve their communication skills?
Communication, whether formal or informal, is an essential part of our daily lives. On a basic level, effective communication benefits the communities in which we live and work. From a practical perspective for EKU students, research shows that employers seek college graduates who have excellent communication skills. Effective communicators tend to be hired first and they also tend to be promoted faster. Graduates who are effective communicators save employers money because businesses are spending as much as $3 billion a year to remediate these skills.
How will the Studio’s technology aid in the development of these skills?
The Noel Studio will contain a combination of low-tech and high-tech tools. Among the technologies being considered are plasma screens with “smart” overlays, touch screens, and tablet PCs. These technologies will allow students to work with their texts and visual aids in creative ways—for example, pulling texts apart to isolate and work on specific areas, changing images or video clips to communicate ideas more effectively, and viewing images or video to understand how audience awareness shapes a message. Practice spaces in the Noel Studio will have video recording and playback features to allow students to work with Studio consultants on improving their presentations.
What role will faculty play in the Studio’s success?
Faculty involvement is vital. Faculty can help identify specific communication skills expected within their disciplines as well as any barriers they’ve observed to effective communication. We hope they will not only encourage students to visit the Studio but will work collaboratively with our staff to create assignments that incorporate Studio pedagogies. We also want faculty and our staff to work together in the Studio’s Discovery Classroom to develop innovative instruction designed to build and encourage critical and creative thinking as well as effective communication.
What is the timeline for construction of the Studio?
The renovation of space is scheduled to begin this summer. We anticipate the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity will open by fall 2010.