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King University News :: King University Introduces The Learning Commons to Offer Faculty Increased Academic Resources, Training

King University is growing to meet the changing needs of 21st century higher education. On Thursday morning, King introduced The Learning Commons at Nicewonder Hall, the institution’s latest educational advancement that will serve as a center for academic resources and training for University faculty, enabling them to incorporate emerging technologies into their online and traditional instruction processes. 

According to Dr. Greg Jordan, president of King University, The Learning Commons promotes a dynamic structure that supports centralized collaboration and training related to online learning and campus instruction. Designed to prepare students for 21st century careers, The Learning Commons will promote innovations in teaching and learning environments through the effective use of instructional technology and course development. 

“The Learning Commons provides an academic technology resource for faculty to not only develop effective online courses, but to also cultivate technologies for use in traditional face-to-face and Graduate and Professional Studies classes,” Jordan said.

The Learning Commons will also serve as a resource center for regional educational systems, facilitating dual enrollment programs and program development in STEM-related disciplines. Further, The Learning Commons will collaborate with King's faculty and assist with academic technological processes that enable King to expand its course offerings by emphasizing the benefits of online learning and redefining ‘on ground’ and ‘traditional’ instructional environments. The new facility and increased online offerings will allow King University to further expand its educational footprint and mission throughout Tennessee, Virginia and beyond.

The Learning Commons will be housed in the newly named Nicewonder Hall, in honor of Don and Etta Nicewonder and Kevin and Kim Nicewonder, a building located on the western end of King University’s main campus in Bristol, Tenn. The building name was unveiled as part of The Learning Commons announcement.

“The Nicewonders, along with Jefferson and Terri Gregory, have been longtime supporters of education in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee,” Jordan said. “King University is pleased to consider them among our committed partners. Their generosity allows us to further fulfill our academic mission and better prepare students for 21st century careers.”

“I want to express my gratitude for this honor,” Kevin Nicewonder said. “King University has been a powerful contributor to this region — in terms of the education it provides our young people and the continuing education opportunities it offers working professionals who are seeking to improve their standing in the workforce. We are pleased to see this building being used to strengthen and advance those efforts.”

Commemorative plaques, to be displayed in the building’s entryway, were presented to the Nicewonder and Gregory families in honor of their support of education throughout the region.

The Learning Commons includes five classrooms where faculty can use a variety of technologies to enhance their teaching methods. The technologies include iPads, SMART Boards, teleconferencing and interactive media, and classroom furniture conducive to 21st century learning environments.

“These classrooms will be constantly changing,” said LeAnn Hughes, vice president of marketing and special assistant to the president at King University. “As new teaching methods are introduced and additional innovative technologies become available, we will incorporate them into the classrooms so our faculty and education students are able to gain hands-on experience.

“Students expect King to expand its offerings beyond the traditional methods,” added Hughes. “The Learning Commons is one of the resources King has developed to meet the needs of today’s students.” 

Through collaboration with Penn State, The Learning Commons will also include a One Button Studio that allows professors to create and record short video segments, typically ranging from 10 to 15 minutes in length. The information created is compiled and edited by an instructional design team who will ensure the information meets all compliance regulations. Once complete, the video segments will be incorporated into teaching modules.

“Instructional design services will be offered to the entire institution throughout all programs and all delivery systems and methods,” said Joel Robertson, chief information officer at King University. “This collaboration will ensure all classes, regardless of delivery, are aligned. Many students are interweaving on-ground classes with online classes.”

In addition, King University intends to bring teleconferencing technology to The Learning Commons. This advancement will enable King to offer international subject matter experts and disseminate its programs to other higher education and K-12 organizations across the globe. 

King’s online courses include more than 100 classes offered each semester and another 80 classes are currently in development. While not all on-ground classes translate well to an online option, King expects to have online versions of most of its on-ground classes available by summer 2014.

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King University is a Presbyterian, master’s-level comprehensive university.  Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors and pre-professional degrees and concentration in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy,  education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. For more information visit, call 800.362.0014, or email