One of the more unique platform points in this year’s MSU Presidential Election is Corey Helie-Masters’ proposal to change the McMaster time structure from ten one-hour blocks, to seven 90-minute blocks in a day. While the idea may sound difficult to implement, the Office of the Registrar has said that talks of changing the timetable structure are already in the works.
Ruth Toth, Associate Registrar, described the discussions about changing McMaster’s timetable to a two-hour block-based schedule.
“We are considering changing our pattern system to benefit student and faculty’s pedagogical needs. It’s also moving towards active learning and more learning styles,” she said.
One example provided was that the extended time blocks would accommodate film viewing, discussions, and potentially additional online components to the course. Toth confirmed that a timetable switch would be feasible, but it would require working with the Office of the Registrar, extensive studies and faculty.
“The biggest constraint we have here is classroom space. It has to work within patterns, and slot patterns are a whole academic game to divide it up into patterns and different slots to optimize the schedule so we would have to have something similar.” The two-hour block is supposed to keep with even numbers to optimize student choice, and the odd 90-minute block could create schedule overlaps.
Helie-Masters elaborates on his 90-minute block proposal, stating that he got the platform idea from a report made regarding Carleton University’s schedule switch in 2008.
“It really caught my attention in terms of how it opened up different areas in campus capacity, it was a total switch in the system and it was a really neat idea,” he said.
Helie-Masters sat down with the Associate Vice President (Students and Learning), Sean Van Koughnett, who forwarded the idea to the Office of the Registrar who confirmed that a switch could be done.
Addressing his critics, Helie-Masters said that “a lot of people have come back and said things about attention span, but everything that anyone has ever showed me has only had anything to do with comparing two minutes to 20 minutes. I haven’t seen anything that showcases the difference between 50 and 80.”
While Helie-Masters was not aware of the current discussions ongoing in the Office of the Registrar, “the conversation that is happening about how we are approaching scheduling and class lengths is a good thing, and it’s a sign that my idea is something that’s new and emerging and people are talking about.”