This thesis draws from current learning theories and pedagogical approaches to determine whether architectural education can benefit from online learning practices. The author examines the latest developments in the understanding of knowledge creation and how adopting new learning tools and practices impacts the learners, with particular focus in architectural studies.
How has the learning process evolved and what are the tools available for the production of knowledge? What is the profile of today’s learners? Has the role of teachers been affected? What happens when technology allows individuals to establish an online presence and seek the resources and information they need on their own and/or interact with other individuals? Could this development produce alternative educational models for architectural studies? And if so, what might these be? And what would be the consequences for those involved in the process?
Theoretical research covers three main areas; the first uncovers the complex landscape of the predominant learning theories -and to a certain degree-, the latest key shifts in the epistemology of knowledge. The second examines contemporary pedagogical approaches and monitors the changes in the perception of what constitutes a curriculum. The third area investigates traditional architectural education formats and how these have evolved over the years with the use of ICT technology. Finally, considering that the applied research involved mainly design studio courses, the theoretical research also monitors the changing nature of the relation between design and research.
Applied research was originally tested on a postgraduate urban research course. In the following years, however, it expanded to five urban design studios implemented both at postgraduate and undergraduate programs. Six different case studies are presented in total. The thesis describes the design of two basic course models based on blended and networked learning principles and their two subsequent variations introduced in the following years with the addition of new learning environments and networking tools.
A large part of the applied research examines the data retrieved from learning analytics and the systematic monitoring of the courses that describe the quantity and quality of learner attendance; the different taxonomies of interactivity between those involved in the learning process; the changes in the curriculum; the formal and informal activities that were developed; the multiple learning spaces the models accommodated and also the process of making meaning in this new setting.
The last section of the thesis presents the overall benefits of blended and networked learning in architectural education and how thinking in terms of open pedagogy can facilitate the design of design courses, culminating in the description of a new type of design course, hereby called Cooperative Studio.
The influence of a non-dialectical reading of Marx under conditions of patriarchy and racism continues to produce substantial errors in scholarship, including: the inability to understand class and labour power as relations and processes; a causal and deterministic articulation of consciousness and praxis as external relations; culturalist and identity-based approaches to ‘difference’ that cannot illuminate inter-constitutive social relations; confusion over the relationality between colonialism, fundamentalisms, imperialism and neoliberalism within capitalism; and the continued marginalization of feminist, anti-racist and anti-colonial scholarship within the academy (…) we also contend that critical education theory cannot commit itself to, nor move forward with, a revolutionary project without profound attention to the social relations of difference – that is, gender, race, ability, sexuality – and the exploration of these as inter-constitutive relations both with and within capitalism and its expansion through colonialism and imperialism
Networks play a key role when there is no objective way to determine performance, claims Barabasi in his new book called: “The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success.” Barabasi examined the career paths of scientists and artists both successful and less successful ones by tracing their networks. While performance is about each individual, their success is about the people they connect to, therefore for Barabasi, success is a collective measure.
However appealing this research may be I resist the predictive character the author implies. I’d love to read the book eventually, but still, this bothers me. Networks are the very representation of complexity and it is inconsistent to consider them as normative tools where quantitative/statistical data can lead to predetermined results. Networks are all about emergence; thus the inability to predict how and when they will evolve. Sure, sometimes it could be that some patterns reappear, but just like the author says, networks are bigger than us or our ability to control them.
I also fail to see the relevance of the term success in this context. It looks so arbitrary and shallow. As much as I would love to see some professionals’ networks and the way they penetrate society, I’d rather the research focused on their ability to change the world for the better. If success is a collective measure, then it should be evaluated in regard to α collective benefit.
Critical Pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning predicated on fostering agency and empowering learners (implicitly and explicitly critiquing oppressive power structures). The word “critical” in Critical Pedagogy functions in several registers:
Critical, as in mission-critical, essential;
Critical, as in literary criticism and critique, providing definitions and interpretation;
Critical, as in reflective and nuanced thinking about a subject;
Critical, as in criticizing institutional, corporate, or societal impediments to learning;
Critical Pedagogy, as a disciplinary approach, which inflects (and is inflected by) each of these other meanings.
Our work, the writers say, has wondered at the extent to which Critical Pedagogy translates into digital space.
In short, Critical Digital Pedagogy:
centers its practice on community and collaboration;
must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to re-imagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;
will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices;
must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education.
Preface by Audrey Watters. Book available for online reading here
The three themes that address this connection are:
research as complex learning: In educational research, the goals are to understand and influence significant social practices that are inherently complicated, dynamic, and changeable (…) The generalizability of educational research is obviously challenged by differences among people and contexts, but time and space also matter.
research valid for applied outcomes: To meet the considerable challenges of practical applications, educational research must meet high standards of scientific inquiry (…) Our first point under this theme is the importance of establishing a conceptual framework as a foundation (…) A second point about quality centers on methodological adequacy (…) A third point that has emerged from our experiences centers around generalizability methods to extend the concept of test reliability
research on the application of research to practice: The third theme centers around the possibilities and problems of applying “what we know,” realizing that knowledge is always imperfect. Given the research base of the highest quality, engineering is required to fit the results to new and different settings. Primary among the challenges to this task in education is the disconnect between the worlds of research and practice.
Calfee, R. C., Miller, R.G., Norman, K., Wilson K., Trainin, G., 2006. Learning to Do Educational Research. In Translating Theory and Research Into Educational Practice: Developments in Content Domains, Large-Scale Reform, and Intellectual Capacity, edited by Mark A. Constas and Robert J. Sternberg, Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 77-104
The most radical alternative to school would be a network or a service which gave each man the same opportunity to share his current concern with others motivated by the same concern.
Let me give, as an example of what I mean, a description of how an intellectual match might work in New York City. Each man, at any given moment and at a minimum price, could identify himself to a computer with his address and telephone number, indicating the book, article, film, or recording on which he seeks a partner for discussion. Within days he could receive by mail the list of others who recently had taken the same initiative. This list would enable him by telephone to arrange for a meeting with persons who initially would be known exclusively by the fact that they requested a dialogue about the same subject.
Illich, I., 1971. Deschooling Society. London; New York: Marion Boyars Publications ltd.
Cultural-historical activity theory was initiated by Lev Vygotsky (1978) in the 1920s and early 1930s. It was further developed by Vygotsky’s colleague and disciple Alexei Leont’ev (1978, 1981). In my reading, activity theory has evolved through three generations of research (Engeström, 1996).
The first generation, centered around Vygotsky, created the idea of mediation (…) Vygotsky’s idea of cultural mediation of actions is commonly expressed as the triad of subject, object, and mediating artifact (…) Objects became cultural entities and the object-orientedness of action became the key to understanding human psyche (…) The limitation of the first generation was that the unit of analysis remained individually focused.
The second generation, centered around Leont’ev (…) Leont’ev explicated the crucial difference between an individual action and a collective activity (…) object-oriented actions are always, explicitly or implicitly, characterized by ambiguity, surprise, interpretation, sense-making, and potential for change. The concept of activity took the paradigm a huge step forward in that it turned the focus on complex interrelations between the individual subject and his or her community.
The third generation of activity theory needs to develop conceptual tools to understand dialogue, multiple perspectives, and networks of interacting activity systems (…) Wertsch (1991) introduced Bakhtin’s (1981) ideas on dialogicality as a way to expand the Vygotskian framework. Ritva Engeström (1995) went a step further by pulling together Bakhtin’s ideas and Leont’ev’s concept of activity, and others have developed notions of activity networks, discussed Latour’s actor-network theory, and elaborated the concept of boundary crossing within activity theory.
In its current shape, activity theory may be summarized with the help of five principles:
a collective, artifact-mediated and object-oriented activity system, seen in its network relations to other activity systems, is taken as the prime unit of analysis
the multi-voicedness of activity systems
historicity as activity systems take shape and get transformed over lengthy periods of time
central role of contradictionsas sources of change and development
possibility of expansive transformations in activity systems
Expansion is a form of learning that transcends linear and socio-spatial dimensions of individual and short-lived actions (…) learning is understood in the broader and temporally much longer perspective of a third dimension, that is, the dimension of the development of the activity (…) Expansion is the result of a transition process from actions currently performed by individuals to a new collective activity (…) A transition from action to activity is considered expansive when it involves the objective transformation of the actions themselves and when subjects become aware of the contradictions in their current activity in the perspective of a new form of activity.
Cambridge University Press. Learning and Expanding with Activity Theory. Edited by Annalisa Sannino, Harry Daniels and Kris D. Gutierrez Frontmatter, 978-0-521-76075-1.