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ULLS News Blog

News about the College

Get to Know Your Neighbor: OILS

by UL&LS Administration on 2017-09-14T19:42:00-06:00 | Comments

The OILS program has experienced a lot of change recently. As the fall semester begins, OILS will have a new faculty member, a new program of study and new spaces to teach and support learning. 

Alex Tkachenko

Assistant Professor Oleksandr Tkachenko who goes by “Alex,” began working with the OILS department on August 21. He is teaching two classes this fall. Both classes are on Human Resource Development . For more information on Alex’s background and HR experience:

Master’s Degree: Learning Officer

A Learning Officer handles the learning and professional development of a workforce in an organization. This position is tasked with duties such as developing an organization’s educational process, promoting knowledge management, and instituting effective training management. A Learning Officer can work in many industries such as Education, Human Resources, Professional Training, and Healthcare. A Chief Learning Officer can earn between $100,000 and $140,000, depending on the location.

The OILS program is now offering a Learning Officer Master’s degree online. Starting this fall, classes are offered in 8-week formats so the degree can be completed in as quickly as a year. For more information:


The OILS program has grown since joining the UL. In fact, the number of admitted undergraduate has doubled in size. Because of this, several spaces in OILS have undergone renovation.  Some of you may not be aware that several offices have been divided to create new offices for additional faculty. Seven OILS faculty are now housed in the OILS department on the second floor next to INLP.

The OILS advisement offices have also been renovated. Initially, one large office welcomed students. Now, this office has been separated into two individual, FERPA compliant offices. These renovations have offered OILS students better access to obtain advisement and opened up additional space as the program continues to grow.


Learning Lab

The OILS’ Learning Lab sits in a corner on the second floor. It is an unassuming space. But as OILS Assistant Professor Vanessa Svhila shares, the Learning Lab holds many keys to unlocking the secrets around how students learn.

Vanessa plucks several LEGO’s from a wall that contains an assortment of different cool old-school LEGO, googly eyes and Muppet fur. She  attaches several Lego’s together in an unconventional way, while explaining, “The Learning Lab is a place to really study learning in ways you’d never get to see in a classroom.” She goes on to explain that one student used clay and cardboard and then, LEGO’s to create a prototype for a Biomedical Engineering project. The idea is to use the tools provided in the Learning Lab to create a model which then can be checked for flaws in the design. Once the prototype has been confirmed to work, the design is then implemented through the use of the 3D printer, also housed in the Learning Lab.

In fact, the Learning Lab offers an assortment of technical delights conducive to creating a rich learning environment. The lab has moveable furniture, a large projector for teleconferences with cameras to offer close-up views, specialty software for research purposes on Mac computers, and head cameras that can track eyeball movements.  


This is the kind of space where “coloring outside of the lines” is not only encouraged, but expected. Vanessa picks up a spool of thread and a microprocessor. This particular thread has an electromagnetic conductive material running through it so once the thread connects to the mini processor, a circuit connects and a light starts to blink. “This space allows the student to have autonomy and agency over their learning. It is good for thinking about what could be.”

The Learning Lab is first and foremost a teaching space for the OILS students and faculty. It is, secondly, a place for research activities. The space is not to be used for conferences or meetings.

Look for upcoming Learning Lab open houses and check out Vanessa’s blog here:

If you or a student has interest in using the Learning Lab for a particular research project, email Vanessa Svhila with the details.

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