Having recently renewed the lease on our downtown campus for a term running potentially to 2033, we have turned our minds to making improvements to the space. Our 1 Dundas space needs a refresh since the last renovations 10 years ago, and we outgrew the facilities some time ago. This is an opportunity to imagine a new space on the 26th floor, one that will evolve to meet the needs of the decade to come, and then some.
But what will teaching and learning look like in 2027? Or 2033? What kind of physical space will we need?
Amara’s law says that we overestimate the impact of technological change in the short-term, and underestimate it in the long-term. One imagines that in the long-term, physical space requirements for teaching and learning will be markedly different than they are now. At present, almost 50% of OsgoodePD’s clientele (Professional LLM students; non-degree certificate and course attendees) do not attend programs in person at our facility, but rather, join by desktop video-conference, live-stream webcast, or by downloading courses. Making learning flexible and accessible – while retaining depth – is an ongoing endeavour, involving multiple iterations of instructional and web design.
Legal education is heavily text-based (and there’s lots of it), and it presents a unique set of challenges for digital learning; it’s pretty safe to say that legal educators are at early stages of what can be done. In 2033, no doubt we’ll look back and chuckle at the blunt digital tools we’re using now. By then, I foresee that the intimacy we value in face-to-face teaching and learning could be present in the digital experience too, although it’s hard at this point to imagine that people will not, at least some of the time, want to physically come together to learn.
In the meantime, coming together and the kind of space we do it in makes a difference. We’re focussing on four things in our renovation: flexibility, accessibility, fellowship and light. In the absence of a crystal ball, we’re shooting for maximum flexibility in our learning spaces; moveable walls and spaces with furniture of all shapes and sizes. Improving access and experience for persons with disabilities is a key goal, in line with Osgoode’s strategic plan, Access Osgoode. We’re looking to enhance fellowship by creating a single large hospitality and mixing space on the southeast side of our floor, which has spectacular views. For that matter, we’re blessed with great views in every direction, so another objective is to bring natural light into every space we can. Finally, a key feature of the new space will be a multi-media studio, to better equip us to create even better online learning experiences.
We’re in the final stages of consulting our community on the renovation plans and will be closing down from May 1 through September 10, 2018 for the renovations. The plans include an expansion of OsgoodePD’s presence at Osgoode Hall Law School; around March 2018, part of our staff will be riding the new subway line to work at the York campus. Our classes and programs will continue during the summer 2018 shutdown; you will be able to get all the updates on construction, new class locations, or instructions for online access at the OsgoodePD Renovation page on our website. Like most renovations, this one will no doubt cause some temporary inconvenience – but we’re working hard to produce a result that will make all the disruption worth it, and more.
Assistant Dean and Executive Director, Osgoode Professional Development