Education 627

Active Learning Classroom Education 627 (2009)


3700 McTavish St.


72 (8 round tables of 9 students)

Alignment with Principles for Designing Teaching and Learning Spaces

Academic Challenge

  • Layout: Work surfaces for notebooks, laptops, and textbooks: large, shared tables
  • Furniture: Comfortable furniture: adjustable, ergonomically approved chairs
  • Technologies: Access to infrastructure: power for student laptops, networked printing, desktop computers available. Access to resources: LMS, internet (via laptops or available desktops)
  • Acoustics: Acoustic design: acoustically treated doors and windows to avoid distraction
  • Lighting / colour: Appropriate lighting for individual work. Intentional use of color to promote focus.

Learning with Peers

  • Layout: Promote face-to-face communication: round tables encourage students to communicate with one another in groups of up to 9. Individuals can move about easily, and sight lines are unobstructed.
  • Furniture: Flexible seating (chairs on wheels).
  • Technologies: Shared workspaces (writable walls, screen-sharing)
  • Acoustics: Sound zones support multiple simultaneous conversations at student tables. Appropriate amplification available (student table mics, carefully placed speakers)
  • Lighting/colour: Different lighting patterns support different activities. Writable wall board colours match table colours to define the collaborative brainstorm space for each group.

Experiences with Faculty

  • Layout: Easy access to all students: Instructor is in middle of room and can circulate easily from table to table
  • Furniture: Adjustable-height podium doesn't interfere with sightlines, movement and interaction, and has ample surface space for instructional materials. 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 (Sympodium, document camera, student computers, etc.) and multiple screens permit simultaneous display of different learning materials. Instructor can control classroom technologies away from the podium via wireless mouse.
  • Acoustics: Sound zones support multiple simultaneous conversations. Wireless and wired audio amplification available.
  • Lighting/colour: Different lighting patterns support multiple types of teaching tasks. Colours distinguish what groups work on which writable wall boards.

Campus Environment

  • University standards applied, including improvements to ventilation, natural light, and sustainable building practices. 
  • Designed for future use: Raised floor to permit access to conduits in the case of future classroom configuration.
  • Designed for all populations using the space, with natural light, storage for student outerwear, and standardized room controls to facilitate use of multiple classrooms.
  • Active Learning Classrooms are part of a vision for campus learning spaces.

High-Impact Practices (HIPs)

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


IT instructions


Photograph before renovation

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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