Northwest Community College opens Innovative Teaching Lab on Terrace Campus
It is back to school for NWCC students across the region, and some classes are completing their studies in the college’s newest teaching lab. This teaching lab isn’t a typical classroom, rather it is a in a yurt.
A yurt is a circular, wood frame, portable building with heavy duty canvas for walls and a roof. It is based on the traditional nomadic home of Mongolia, referred to as a Ger.
Students in ECCE 163 were the first to take a course in the new learning space and were enthusiastic about having their studies in a new environment.
The yurt has all the same amenities as a standard classroom complete with smart board, heating, and mobile desks so the class can be configured in many different ways, depending on the needs of the class.
The concept for bringing the unique classroom to Terrace came from NWCC’s Centre of Learning Transformation (COLT).
“We know that physical shape directs usage – the roundness of a yurt lends itself easily to active, participatory learning. The yurt also stands out as different, which creates intrigue and invites users out of their comfort zones to help facilitate significant learning,” said Dr. Carrie Nolan, Dean of Learning Transformation.
Faculty have been enthusiastic in their response with courses from much of the programming we offer scheduled in the yurt this semester alone, including business, biology, early childhood care and education, geography, trades – automotive, and college and career prep.
Early Childhood Care and Education instructor Kathryn Fullerton was the first instructor to teach in the new space.
"Teaching in the yurt has been an incredibly enlivening and enriching experience. I am wondrously surprised to become aware of all the subtle, yet significant, ways this learning environment will shape me as an educator and how teaching in a round space will influence me, and my students, in ways that are still being reflected upon and revealed,” said Fullerton.
Northwest Community College’s goal is to become the college of choice for experiential place-based learning by 2017. This is one step forward in demonstrating the college’s commitment to finding innovative new ways to teach students in the Northwest.