Filming artist Rolando Diaz

Rolando Diaz has been a painter for as long as he can remember. The ACU alum and Cuban native has spent more than 20 years working with paint on canvas. Only recently did he start thinking in three dimensions, creating several mixed media works from found objects and materials. Then he discovered the ACU Maker Lab.

Even before ACU’s new digital fabrication space opened to the campus in October, Ro began working alongside ACU faculty and staff inside the space, planning and creating a sculptural piece with the tools the facility offered.

The Learning Studio’s filmmaking team accompanied Ro and his collaborators during the project, including visiting his Dallas studio. The result is this beautiful two-minute documentary of the group’s creative process inside the Maker Lab, from start to finish.

Ro hopes to use this small model as a prototype for a five-foot version, to be unveiled at his annual gallery show in Dallas this December. We asked him to give us the backstory on “Forbidden Fruit,” the series of paintings on which the sculpture is based.

Undead Faculty loose on campus

Jonathan Stewart, FinanceAs we enter the dark stretch of the semester it’s not unusual to see students shuffling listlessly through the library, but this year we’ve noticed this mindlessness is transforming the ACU faculty.

The Learning Studio works closely with our most creative faculty from the humanities and the sciences, professors and instructors, and this year for the first time . . . living and undead.

In our experience, faculty inspire us with their persistent hunger after knowledge and relentless pursuit of an idea at all costs, but this week their devotion to the life of the mind has turned.

Students be warned: they’re after your brains.

Thanks to some great faculty volunteers for our photo shoot and to Krista Cukrowski and Emily Teel for their help with makeup. We had a great time!




Scholarly Storytelling workshop

This last month we welcomed a remarkable group of faculty to join us for our first Scholarly Storytelling workshop in the Learning Studio. We wanted to explore the potential of mixed-media storytelling to communicate messages drawn from research and professional writing with a wider audience.

Al Haley and Kyle Dickson led the workshop which paralleled the basic structure of a three-day storytelling workshop with the exception that the final products didn’t follow any one basic format. Presentations included expanded training in the proper use and citation of digital sources and advanced production options like working with a green-screen or teleprompter. The workshop also coincided with planning for the One-Button Studio which will make these types of stories even easier to produce in the future.

Here are just a few examples from the workshop.


Faculty Examples



Copier – Al Haley

Different – Jeff Childers

Hope & Tragedy in Amos – Mark Hamilton

Modeling Intentional Community – Kent Smith



Each of the projects was produced with a particular audience in mind. Al was presenting at a conference and wanted a way to talk about his interest in mixed-media texts. Mark was thinking about videos to introduce biblical texts for a media commentary project he was considering. Kent was working with colleagues on a research project to share interviews with members of intentional communities around the country. Jeff had a particular role for his project to play within a graduate theology class. This last demonstrates the complexity of these messages for particular audiences:

“This project is intended to stimulate conversation about synthesis in a graduate class. All the students will have read assigned texts, and one of the themes on which I will focus in class is the attempt in early Syriac Christianity to have radically different styles of discipleship co-existing in the same communities. It was difficult for them, as for us, and I prepared a film that 1) underscores a range of related themes in certain texts (which they will have read), 2) grounds the topic in a particular socio-historic setting, yet 3) suggestively associates their struggles maintaining unity-in-diversity with our own struggles to do so, in several different arenas of interest to Christian communities (i.e. worship styles, fellowship, ministry, race, etc.). The music is that of Syrian Orthodox hymnody.”.

Overall, a remarkably diverse group of teachers and scholars thinking about the potential of media tools to forward their work across campus.

Night Shooting in West, West Texas

Thanks to all of you who joined us this weekend in Marfa for a phenomenal workshop with Scott Martin. Scott is a professional photographer out of San Antonio who for the past several years has focused on night photography in workshops in Big Bend, Yosemite, and points beyond. We were delighted to get on his schedule and had a remarkable group.

For those who couldn’t join us, here are links to some of Scott’s work highlighted in Wired magazine. Really stunning images.



Year One Report now in the iBookstore

This has been a busy year in the Learning Studio. Since opening in 2011, we’ve offered workshops to 287 teachers from ACU and other schools and universities. Our records show that 17,278 total reservations were made to the 10 collaboration rooms in the new facility. And we’ve offered hundreds of tours to thousands of visitors interested in the design of the space and our programs.

As we wrapped up the spring semester, staff in the Learning Studio began work on our Year One Report, an interactive overview of our first year of operation. The report tells the story of many of the students and faculty we’ve worked with in Year One with examples of projects and testimonials from the participants.

As the summer winds down, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to hear a few of the stories and achievements of our students and faculty this first year.


Download Report

(Note: To view embedded video and interactive content, make sure to download the iBook Version. Apple iBooks require an iPad running the iBooks 2 app and are not currently viewable on a Mac, PC or smartphone.)



  • The 35-page report includes interviews and projects from 35 faculty and students
  • Our 8,800 square foot facility is presented from early design sketches to a full virtual tour
  • 7 content galleries and 14 movies—including the Year One feature video—introduce major projects
  • A “by the numbers” section summarizes facility usage, workshops participation and equipment checkout


About the Report

Learning Studio staff produced the Year One Report using iBooks Author for display on iPad, in part to better understand the software and assess its potential in producing next-generation learning content.

On September 19th, we’ll be presenting on the process in an NMC Connect webinar hosted by the New Media Consortium. We’ll post more details when we have them to Twitter and Facebook.