Active learning classrooms are now a common feature at many higher education institutions. While these continue to be created it is not always the case that faculty are engaged in the design process. However, faculty participation can make a significant difference in the design of learning spaces and participation by faculty and students in the process is a means of engendering uptake of active pedagogy. Classroom space, which was largely static and relatively unstudied, is undergoing a renaissance both in terms of creative design and scholarly investigation. In her talk, Prof. McCahan will discuss the history of formal university classrooms and how we arrived at active learning space design. She will describe an example of participatory design and the outcomes from that process. New active learning spaces are testing the limits of size and functionality. They are also rapidly blending the physical and virtual worlds to create a new types of hybrid learning experiences. The research in this field is suggesting future directions and modes of teaching that are coming into focus.
Susan McCahan is the Vice Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education and Vice Provost, Academic Programs at the University of Toronto. She is responsible for developing and implementing initiatives to re-imagine and strengthen academic experiences at the University. This includes strategic leadership on IT systems and data systems that support academic processes and teaching; and leadership on key pedagogical initiatives such as experiential learning. Susan’s Academic Programs portfolio oversees governance and quality assurance of the University’s 700 graduate and undergraduate programs.
Previously, she was the Vice Dean, Undergraduate in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. She is a professor in Mechanical Engineering, who specialized in thermodynamics. However, her current area of research is engineering education. She is the author of a textbook for first year engineering design, which she continues to teach.
Susan is a fellow of the American Association for Advancement in Science and is the past president of the Canadian Engineering Education Association. She has received numerous awards for education excellence and leadership, including the 3M National Teaching Fellowship.