Classroom innovations connect Canadian students
“In what kind of Canada do you want to live? What do you want your future to look like?” Hockey Hall of Famer and former Liberal Member of Parliament Ken Dryden has been challenging his students to tackle these questions in his pioneering course, “Making the Future”, since 2011.
Through a combination of lectures, guest speakers and Q and A sessions, students are asked to think critically about hot-button topics of relevance to Canadians, including family, religion, health care, diversity, politics, and crime, among others.
An innovative twist to the course was introduced in a 2014 pilot project. Using video conferencing and other telecommunications tools, students from McGill were connected with students at the University of Calgary creating a “virtual classroom”. These technologies helped bridge the geographic gap between the two universities, allowing the unique perspectives of students from both regions of Canada to be shared and discussed in “real time”.
The success of this pilot has spring-boarded an even more ambitious initiative: in the 2015 offering of the course, McGill and Calgary will be joined by other Canadian universities from coast to coast—the University of Saskatchewan, Ryerson, and Memorial University. A classroom in the Arts building is currently being renovated and will house the McGill cohort of the expanded course. With a larger space and greatly enhanced videoconferencing equipment, students can look forward to participating in an even larger national conversation about the challenges and opportunities facing young Canadians today.