Letting students with different backgrounds to learn from each other in a (hybrid) “integrated design” learning environment.

WSE 425/525 “Timber tectonics in the digital age” exposes students to integrated design practices, in which architects, engineers and fabricators are all engaged in the early design phases. In the actual practice, these different professional figures really learn from each other during the development of a project. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to avoid the Online Course Design Pitfall #5: Ignore the ways students learn from each other, and instead, support similar peer teaching & learning mechanisms in class.

In the past editions of this course, we used journals and blog which provided a concrete record of student’s growth and competency, and exposed students to the potential of the learned tools, also through the work of peers and professionals.

Key issue: we noticed that students were more inclined to follow a “sequential” collaborative approach, rather than a true “integration”. Because the projects were developed using a particular software platform, expertise with this software defined the leader of the design. In the preliminary steps, students with technical knowledge of timber, engineering or construction sometimes were less involved as their expertise was seen as coming later in the process.

My plan: Foster peer tutoring and collaboration by providing dedicated online and in class space for student-driven and student-led Q&A sessions, presentations, demonstrations and peer-review sessions.

Students familiar with the software will lead and moderate a “parametric modeling” Forum, helping less expert peers who are stuck on a model hurdle, pretty much as in a typical SW user forum.

In the past, student’s demonstrations, project presentations and peer-review happened late in the term; now I plan to engage students in these activities from the first weeks, thanks to the opportunity offered by the hybrid delivery to move most of the “instructor-provided” content online.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About riggioma

Mariapaola Riggio has an M.S. in Architecture from the University of Florence, Italy and a Ph.D. in Structural Engineering from the University of Trento, Italy. Assistant Professor in the Department of Wood Science and Engineering (OSU) since September 2015. Dr. Riggio has an established reputation among the international scientific community, as an expert in timber buildings assessment. Her research activity is mainly devoted to the valorization of traditional and novel forest products in the built environment.
This entry was posted in Hybrid Course Delivery, Hybrid Course Design and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Letting students with different backgrounds to learn from each other in a (hybrid) “integrated design” learning environment.

  1. maesc says:

    You raise a great point and one that I think about/confront a lot-that we can design our ideal assignment, but students interpret our directions and streamline the work in often unpredictable ways. Sometimes their shortcuts or logics might undercut our pedagogical rationale. Your example of ‘sequential’ vs ‘integration’ raises an important point of discussion for how we can view our assignments better from the student perspective (how, in a practical sense, are they going to get the work done, rather than just focusing on the ‘ideal’ way we’ve imagined they will approach it). Great food for thought!

  2. Deann C Garcia says:

    I deal with the same issue of disparity of skill level between students in groups. It’s an interesting observation that those with better technical skills at the outset become group leaders by default, even if they don’t possess any other qualities of leadership. The idea of using peer mentoring to bring others on board earlier on is something that can be applied to many other situations. Thanks for highlighting this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *