Officials hope to have Noel Studio open by Sept. 7 for students to hone their writing skills. (Stephanie Smith)

By Stephanie Smith

This fall, Eastern students looking to pay a visit to the writing center will no longer have to trek to the Case Annex building. Instead, they’ll be heading to the Crabbe Library, where they’ll get instruction in the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity.And tutoring won’t be the only thing available to them.

The studio, which is slated to open sometime in September, is being billed as a new breed of writing centers-a 21st century model that embraces technology and offers students a wide array of computers and other new media to help them polish their papers and presentations.

“It is the most progressive center of its kind,” said Leslie Valley, the studio’s writing coordinator. “Writing centers have been trying to incorporate communication. The whole idea is to teach the student, rather than fix one assignment. I think the studio embodies that in a new way.”

The studio, which is housed in the back of the library near the Grand Reading Room, will feature its own entrance off University Drive. The center is currently under construction, although its director, Russell Carpenter, said the building could be open to students as soon as Sept. 7.

The Noel Studio for Academic Creativity, which absorbed the old writing center formerly in Case Annex, seeks to expand the definition of what a writing center can be. Although it will serve to help students on their writing skills, the studio will also offer technology to help students on everything from power-point presentations, speeches, interviews and even larger multimedia and group projects.

“[The Noel Studio] really brings together a lot of important resources the student body,” said Shawn Apostel, the studio’s communication coordinator. “Seriously, I just hope students realize, and I think they will very soon, what an asset this is.”

Students who enter the studio, after encountering a towering spiral staircase, will find everything from “breakout spaces” that feature digital recording stations for students to record presentations and get feedback on them from the studio’s consultants, to an invention space with wall-to-wall dry erase boards, Carpenter said.

The studio recently hired more than 20 consultants, both undergraduate and graduate students, who will be available to assist students, both with their writing and their other presentation needs.

“There’s definitely some energy around the studio,” Carpenter said.

The idea for the Noel Studio has been in the works for more than five years, Carpenter said. It originally started merely as a relocation of the writing center. But, as the relocation was discussed, one thing became clear – there was a demand for a center that bridged a larger array of what students are increasingly being asked to do, which includes writing, research, and presentation skills. To meet that end, the studio hired a coordinator for each of those subjects.

“It’s unique to Eastern and something other universities don’t have – an incredibly innovative space to inspire creativity and support the development of effective communication practices and products,” Carpenter said.

The studio also will host a variety of programs, workshops, and discussion groups throughout the year. Examples include a workshop entitled “Confronting Speech Anxiety” and another called “Exploring SecondLife,” which examines a virtual world community that has exploded in popularity on the Internet.

“This will be a model for the nation,” Apostel said. “It already is and it’s not even done yet.”

But students don’t have to wait until Sept. 7 to take advantage of Noel Studio. Consultations are available now in Room 208 of the Crabbe Library, the studio’s temporary location. Students can reach the Noel Studio at 622-7330.