School of Liberal Arts Introduces New Immersive Learning Lab in Miguel Hall

Lightweight desks and a more open room allows students to be able to work individually and collaboratively in Miguel 305. MAGGIE SHEDIAC/COURTESY

By Mary Haley, Asst. Social Media Editor

The Manhattan College School of Liberal Arts (SoLA) computer lab, Miguel 305, in Miguel Hall has undergone major renovations this past summer to return as a new global engagement lab. 

The lab will allow students, language lab assistants and professors to learn and teach in an immersive and brand new way. 

Miguel 305 went through renovations beginning June 1 and was ready to be used in class by the first week of the fall semester. Planning for the lab started during the summer months of 2022 and was able to be completed through the support of the George I. Alden trust, an organization that awards grants to schools for projects they find to be valuable and productive. 

The lab is now equipped with lighter and movable desks for individual and collaborative work, three interactive cameras that allow for video meetings and panels on the new screens that have also been implemented in the room. Before these renovations, Miguel 305 was a computer lab with outdated technology.

Cory Blad, Ph.D., dean of the School of Liberal Arts, spoke with The Quadrangle on why there needed to be a change in this space and what its updates mean for the school as a whole. 

“I think we achieved our initial goals with the restructuring of the entire room,” Blad said. “What we really need to do is understand the capacities of the room and then change our classes to kind of fit what the room can do. I’m thinking of how we can use it to engage collaborative learning and collaborative work opportunities.”

The space was created with the department of modern languages and literatures and the digital arts and humanities especially in mind. When the grant was being allotted to the college, and for a project particularly dedicated to the advancement of SoLA, faculty came together to discuss what this grant could be used for and how it could benefit teaching and learning. 

Evelyn Scaramella, PhD., professor of modern languages, spoke on how this room can be used to immerse students in language and culture and how the technology in the room can help the college collaborate with people from around the world.

“We came up with this idea of more robust camera options so that we could possibly be doing remote learning more easily in the classroom or inviting other people from other locations into the classroom,” Scaramella said. “We would love to invite people to campus but we don’t always have the funding for that. I think this opens up possibilities not just for professors to visit the classroom, but for students to be collaborating with different universities.” 

Jack Flanagan, a sophomore international studies major, is a language lab assistant for a French class. He explained that while the technologies take practice to be able to be used adequately for teaching, he is hopeful for the opportunities of the lab in the future.

“I definitely want to try to do more interactive things,” Flanagan said. “I think especially for languages [the new room] is a lot better because when you have the screens it makes everything more conducive to learning. I think it’s going to be an invaluable resource to the language department and the school as a whole.”

Faculty and students alike have high hopes for the lab going forward. It is a major advancement to the School of Liberal Arts and it holds the opportunity for communication between Manhattan College and schools and cultures around the world.

“We have a space that reflects the professional nature and the outstanding, excellent nature of what people are doing in those classes,” Blad said. “It’s more about just respecting good work than anything else.”