Integrating Project-Based Learning in Hybrid Studio Design Courses

For those of us in the design disciplines, the recent trend toward experiential learning is old hat. Because of our heritage in craft-based, apprentice-style education, which was effectively scaled up by such early pedagogical pioneers as the Bauhaus, learning by doing has been our modus operandi for nearly a century. But nowhere does this break down faster than when many design educators attempt to move their courses to an online or hybrid format.

Often when crafting a course plan for a blended format, experiential and project-based lessons are covered in class, while book work, tests, and readings are incorporated into the online part of the course. While this is probably the easiest approach (indeed much of this content is housed in LMS regardless of course type), it doesn’t take advantage of what online learning has to offer.

In order to avoid simply replacing face to face instruction with a bunch of readings, it may be helpful to strategize ways to carry projects through, connecting classroom experience with online activities. Students can be assigned to critique each other and offer feedback in a written or video recorded format, which can be just as effective as traditional oral critique. Students may be divided into smaller groups, who interact throughout the length of a project both in person and online, offering support and learning from each other through multiple methods of communication.

Finding ways of connecting the content of the classroom to the LMS in an integrated and thoughtful manner can add additional meaning to a project, creating a richer experience than even an all in-person studio design course could achieve.

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