Pushing out the walls of the classroom

Osgoode professors are moving from “being the sage on the stage to being the guide on the side”, as one put it, with the official opening of the new Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP electronic classroom in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. The refurbished classroom is part of renovations to five lecture halls at Osgoode.

Right: Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Patrick Monahan (left) with Cassels Brock & Blackwell managing partner Mark Young

The new classroom features state-of-the-art digital technology which connects Osgoode to a wealth of databases, information and educational resources. Fully wired with electrical outlets and network drops built into the desks for notebook computers, the classroom’s central teaching podium is also connected to the Internet. An Elmo visual printer and document camera allows faculty to present in a real-time, big-screen format the latest information, documents and legal resources.

Osgoode students, faculty, staff joined Patrick Monahan, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, York Chancellor Peter Cory and officials from Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP for a celebration of the opening of the classroom on Thursday, Nov. 17. Cassels Brock & Blackwell was honoured at the opening for the generous donation that made the renovation possible.

“This was a very difficult project to manage because we had a very small window of time between Spring Convocation and the start of fall classes,” said Monahan. “There was quite an extensive renovation which included stripping out the old classroom right to the walls and rebuilding it.”

Renovations included creating a new window, installing desks, equipment and lighting and redecorating the space to create a warmer atmosphere. The classroom also features two large murals by fourth-year Faculty of Fine Arts student Joshua Bonder, tilted “Beard of Smoke” and “Not thinking, just curious”.

“Students will have a lot of time in this classroom to contemplate the artwork and they’ll learn to appreciate it,” joked Monahan.

Cory joined in on the levity. “I’m not sure about the art,” he said, “but it is typical of law students – not thinking…and maybe curious.”

Cory expressed thanks on behalf of Osgoode Hall Law School and the University for the generous donation made by Cassels Brock & Blackwell. “Thank you for a very fine room. There is a fine history and tradition at Cassels Brock & Blackwell of giving back to the next generation of lawyers and judges and this classroom lets it be done in an atmosphere of enlightenment.”

Left: Osgoode Professor Tom Johnson demonstrates the digital potential of the new Cassels Brock & Blackwell classroom

Osgoode Professor Tom Johnson provided a demonstration of the classroom’s digital equipment. Using the computer gear on the teaching podium, Johnson delivered a brief lesson in mercantile law displaying his Web CT site, pulling up documents, discussions and Web references. “We have this wonderful machine that I like a lot. It is called Elmo. In addition to having the slide capacity, I can take documents and display them anytime or at the same time I am giving a lecture. This classroom takes students out the window and off into the world. They can pull up electronic resources, integrate multiple sources of information, have online discussions and information at their fingertips.

“I would like to express a special thanks to the firm for this classroom. It allows professors to move from being the sage on the stage to being the guide on the side. It enhances the level of learning and discussion that students experience,” said Johnson.

“The classroom opens up the window to new things like databases and new opportunities to learn and it broadens out the discussions that students can engage in,” he said. “It pushes out the walls of the classroom. This is a wonderful addition to the law school.”