Mac-Corry revitalization focused on “active learning”

OISE Open House

South wing to become an interactive hub where students can gather

South entrance of Mac-Corry Hall.

As a part of an ongoing revitalization project being conducted by the university, the southern wing of Mackintosh-Corry Hall will be renovated this year to transform small-sized lecture halls into interactive teaching and learning spaces.

With renovations happening over the course of the 2017-18 academic year, Mac-Corry is set to be the next beneficiary of the university’s new $1 million per year, three year revitalization plan. 

Last year, Duncan McArthur was the first hall to receive the donation. During the renovation, McArthur’s central auditorium was fitted with new technology, lighting and seating. As a part of other classroom projects, Walter Light Hall, Theological Hall, Kingston Hall and Ellis Hall were all equipped with their own active learning spaces in 2014.

Warren Mabee, Associate Professor and Head of the Geography and Planning department, told The Journal via email that the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has launched the revitalization in response to the observance of new trends in teaching that demand more flexible classroom structures. 

“[CTL] has noted a decline in usage for small tiered classrooms as more instructors move towards ‘blended’ or ‘flipped’ classroom teaching styles — interactive teaching that makes use of breakouts and group discussions, which are harder to facilitate when every desk is fixed in place and all the seats look towards the front of the room,” Mabee wrote.

Rooms D201 and D205 will undergo the most dramatic changes, given that they have tiered, fixed lecture-oriented seating.

According to Mabee, “a plan emerged to flatten the floors in some of the spaces along the D-wing in order to accommodate this trend in teaching styles.” 

These two rooms will be converted to contain 49 non-fixed seats, with a movable partition between the spaces, which will allow the rooms to be combined into a single 98-seat classroom.

Mabee, whose department’s main office has been on the 200-level of Mackintosh-Corry since the 1970s, welcomes the changes.

“We recognized that it might make sense for us to shift our office space across the hall to the E-wing, which would allow CTL to treat the entire block of space along the D-wing as one big project,” Mabee wrote.

“At the same time, the Department of Geography and Planning had a plan to renovate our main office space, which is in the D-wing as well. We hadn’t changed the layout of our main office since the 1970s, and our recent merger with the Planning school has increased our staff numbers.”

These renovations also provide geography students with the opportunity to take advantage of more modern facilities that are close in proximity to their department.

“Geography students will benefit from having access to 

state-of-the-art teaching facilities in our home building; the classrooms won’t belong to us, of course, but will be centrally booked and will see great demand from other units as well,” Mabee wrote.

While these new learning environments will enhance the quality of interactive learning during class hours, Mabee is most excited for the long stretch of hallway that will provide students with a place to gather outside of class.

“One interesting feature will be the addition of a large amount of ‘soft’ study space in the hallway itself, in the form of seating and tables. We get students looking for places to read, write, and work with their peers all the time; the library and cafeterias have taken the brunt of this for years, but there is clearly a need for more places for students to gather,” Mabee wrote.

“The south end of Mac-Corry will really serve as a gathering place and hub on campus, nicely complementing the BioSci atrium or the ARC as a place to come together.”

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