Digital Pedagogy: Architecture and Design

Digital pedagogy is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think about my field of Architecture and Design. I remember the first day of class as a freshman, we were each handed a 24×24 piece of chip board and assigned to wonder the courtyard and “discover” the properties of this piece of cardboard.  From the start, you are taught to physically explore your surroundings and that he physical act of making with your hands is the only true way to make discoveries. Fast-forward almost 15 years later, I am sitting in front of a client who is wearing VR goggles so that she can walk through her new Manhattan penthouse; meanwhile her husband, who is in Europe, is on Skype and able to see what she sees. Man, times have changed, and they continue to do so. If architects and designers want to continue to create change and make discoveries, then they must be welcoming of digital technology because it is already transforming the way we design and build. The use of digital design in the field is so prevalent that it can’t be ignored. Not only is it prevalent, but the tools to create it are becoming more and more accessible!

In terms of direct application of digital design, I see it happening multiple ways. One way is to just start with educating students on what types of digital design technologies there are; everything from 2D drafting systms, to BIM software, to online 3D sharing programs, and online design open access.  To understand where we are going, we need to understand the past. So, it would be good to give digital design technology a little historical context in order to think about it place in the future. Also, teaching students that this technology has major social, cultural, environmental, and economic impacts is important as well.

Another way to apply the use (and advocacy) of digital design could be through a class that walks through the design process and uses both physical and digital design. The classic steps, from 2D drawings, to modeling, to prototyping would still be used, but at each step, maybe there is a digital parallel.  Together we can find the moments where they need to be separated, and the moments they need to intersect. Much like everything else in life, there is a time and place. The same goes for digital design tools.

I am now going to get on my little soap box and talk about how it is important for students to be well versed in the digital language of design in order to create change and be advocates for social justice. As an educator, it is my job to shape the way digital technology is used by the students now and in their future professional careers. It is my job to promote digital technology to be used in ways that are inclusive, accountable, genuine, and just. If anything, I hope that students leave school knowing that their digital literacy, in any form, in any field, can benefit their communities that they serve.

And lastly, in terms of pedagogy, and in my effort to teach about the importance of digital technologies, I want to make the classroom a digital environment for assessment and collaboration. Ideally, there could be a digital platform where students can share their work (which would be drawings, models, etc.) to the public. Most studios are sponsored by firms, so it would be cool to have those firms be an active part of the student’s education and be able to comment on students work and give them feedback. Blogging for architects and designers is also on my list of “if I could I would”. When you gather a group of students to have a conversation, say about the “intersection of light”, only a few (and usually the same few) will answer or have an opinion. That’s not to say others don’t have one, but if they are at all introverted then being under the spotlight isn’t exactly a warm fuzzy place for them.  A blog allows them to think about their response and start to interact with other student, and event teachers.





1 thought on “Digital Pedagogy: Architecture and Design

  1. I enjoyed your blog and the examples you gave on bridging the past and future ways of learning. Your approach allows for a smooth transition while keeping students engaged by acknowledging how something was done prior to the use of technology and how things are being done today. Embracing technology is not all bad. As with any tool, the tool often is not the problem. It is how we use the tool that produces negative outcomes. Learning to work with new tools that make jobs a little more efficient while keeping up with more modern clients’ expectations is affecting all industries. Getting some architects to see technology as their friend is more challenging then getting students to learn via digital pedagogy. I am not an architect, but I do work closely with them at the licensure level and one of the proposed recommendations at the national level is for schools to offer more classes, as you stated above, that incorporate “2D drafting systems, to BIM software, to online 3D sharing programs, and online design open access”. It is key for students and educators to understand being digitally literate can benefit their communities, their businesses, their environment and society in general.

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