The Margaret and Albert Alkek Foundation has awarded a $200,000 grant to St. Mary’s University to create two technology-based classrooms that will benefit students studying languages and English/communications arts.

“St. Mary’s University is dedicated to providing an innovative and challenging educational experience that prepares our students for meaningful service and productive careers,” said St. Mary’s President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D. “This grant from the Alkek Foundation will support that goal by providing two state-of-the art teaching centers and hands-on learning opportunities for St. Mary’s students.”

These classrooms, called studio classrooms, will create specialized learning environments that augment traditional teaching. The languages studio will support foreign language instruction in the nine modern and classical languages offered by St. Mary’s, which includes Arabic and Mandarin Chinese; the Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum Program, which incorporates a language component into various courses across the disciplines; and the English as a Second Language Program, by allowing international students learning English to practice their English skills.

The languages studio will include 25 computer stations, a teacher’s console with multimedia capabilities, a dedicated server and other teaching technology. The studio will accommodate standard-sized classes while also allowing individual students to access the studio to practice language skills and investigate cultures and countries. The current video and film library in the languages department will be converted to a digital format and moved to a dedicated server, making these educational tools more accessible.

The English / communications arts studio classroom will be a multimedia production studio that will include 11 computers and industry-standard software. English/communications arts students will have access to hands-on learning in the development of multimedia communications, video production, digital publishing and editing.

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