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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

  • Layout: 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


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