How to Begin Planning a Learning Community

How to Begin Planning a Learning Community

Two kinds of learning communities at Lane:

  • First Year Experience Learning Communities
  • Learning Communities for Continuing Students

Fast Lane to Success First Year Experience Learning Community Development

In the coming four years, Lane will be offering customized First Year Experience (FYE) learning communities (Called "Fast Lanes to Success") to more than 500 incoming credit students--many more than we've offered before. To do this, we encourage faculty from all disciplines to participate by teaching Fast Lane classes. Currently, we offer first year learning communities to Writing Students, Math Students, Speech Students, Art Students, Athletes, and Women in Transition.

Learn more about our current offerings.

Be sure to attend Tea and Topics and other faculty workshops in 2012-13 to add to your student success strategies.

Fast Lanes link Gen Ed required courses such as Writing and Math with a College Success course and sometimes an Effective Learning class. But the possibilities for Fast Lanes go beyond these traditional models: Women in Transition offers Career and Life Planning with Life Transitions; Visualizing Success offers an Introduction to the Art Major with a College Success class specifically developed for artists. In 2011-12, Power Write was added to our roster of learning communities for new students, with an emphasis on business majors.

If you have an idea for a new Fast Lane, or you would like to teach in a Fast Lane to Success learning community, email

Fill out an application.

New Learning Communities Development

Below is a list of considerations for developing a learning community. At any time during the process don't hesitate to consult with Amy Gaudia and Eileen Thompson, Learning Communities Co-Coordinators (

  1. Identify group goals and a theme or themes; begin to share and explore reading lists.
  2. Trade syllabi and meet to discuss commonalities as well as new perspectives on subject matter. Obviously, ongoing interaction is crucial to community formation.
  3. Begin to visit one another's classes to observe teaching styles.
  4. Design new syllabi or revise to meet new goals.
  5. Work together to construct and adapt assignments that encourage students to encounter ideas and materials in new ways.
  6. Consider classroom strategies, activities, guest presenters (if guest presentations can be open to others on campus, there may be Student Activities funding--check with Barbara Delansky, well in advance.)
  7. Discuss grading philosophies, evaluation methods, and ways to divide paper-reading responsibilities.
  8. Discuss workload issues as they arise. Direct questions and concerns to Eileen Thompson.
  9. Begin to consider assessment questions: How will you know if your learning community has been successful? What will it take for you to consider it a success? How will you find out if the students think it was successful? What would a failure look like?
  10. Determine scheduling and classroom needs; discuss these issues with division staff. Its extremely important that departments' administrative assistants understand your project.
  11. Determine the best time to offer your Learning Community. Check for potential conflicts that would affect enrollment in your community or impact another learning community.

Make sure you fill out a Learning Communities application prior to the stated deadlines. Many of the items above may be ongoing, but some of the "nuts and bolts" issues below also need to be addressed.

  1. Prepare descriptive information for class schedules. You will hear from Eileen Thompson about deadlines for submissions for the learning community pages, but you will also need to talk with division staff about information to be included on division pages.
  2. Make publicity decisions (flyers? posters? visits to classes? Torch article?).
  3. Check on the registration process for your Learning Community; make sure you understand how registration will work for your community's configuration.
  4. Meet with counselors and others who are involved in direct student counseling. Develop a working relationship with counselors who advise students in appropriate academic areas.
  5. Don't forget the variety of other places students may receive counseling: Disability Services, Veterans' Office, Multicultural Center , Program, TRIO program.
  6. Well before registration starts, begin publicizing your learning community to staff and students. You may take 20 posters to the Student Activities office, and the staff there will put them on appropriate bulletin boards. They stock the bulletin boards every Thursday. Be sure to let them know how long the posters should remain.