Burnside 511

Active Learning Classroom Burnside 511, Owen Egan


805 Sherbrooke Street West


38 plus a 12-seat seminar room with mobile wall (Burnside 512)

Alignment with Principles for Designing Teaching and Learning Spaces

Academic Challenge

  • Layout: Work surfaces for notebooks, laptops, and textbooks: large, shared tables
  • Furniture: Adjustable height computer monitors for optimal comfort
  • Technologies: Access to infrastructure: desktop computers (1:1 student-computer ratio) and power for student laptops, networked printing. Access to resources: LMS, internet, software.
  • Acoustics: Design includes acoustic panels to avoid distraction.
  • Lighting/colour: Appropriate overhead and natural lighting for individual work.

Learning with Peers

  • Layout: Promote face-to-face communication: hourglass-shaped tables encourage students to communicate with one another in groups of 3 or 6. Individuals can move about easily.
  • Furniture: Flexible seating (chairs on wheels)
  • Technologies: Shared workspaces (writable walls, screen-sharing)
  • Acoustics: Sound zones support multiple simultaneous conversations at student tables.
  • Lighting/colour: Sufficient lighting for group work.

Experiences with Faculty

  • Easy access to all students: Instructor can easily move around room and can circulate from table to table.
  • Furniture: Smaller podium does not interfere with sightlines or interaction. Mobile chairs support different teaching strategies (e.g., group work in various sizes, student presentations, etc.)
  • Technologies: Dual-source projection and multiple classroom technology sources (Smartboard, document camera, instructor computer) and multiple screens permit simultaneous display of different learning materials.
  • Acoustics: Sound zones support multiple simultaneous conversations.
  • Lighting/colour: Different lighting patterns to support multiple types of teaching tasks.

Campus Environment

  • University standards applied, including improved ventilation and sustainable building practices.
  • Designed for all populations using the space, with natural light, storage for student outerwear, and standardized room controls to facilitate use of multiple classrooms.
  • Designed to integrate with surrounding space: Classroom opens onto a break-out space (Burnside 512) and the Geographic Information COmmons (GIC), which provides abundant space and the technological resources for students to work individually or in small groups.

High-Impact Practices (HIPs)

  • Both physical and virtual affordances help maximize HIPs for student learning within and beyond this classroom.


IT instructions


Photograph before renovation


Further information about Active Learning Classrooms at McGill


McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

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