Now after more than a decade has passed, Architects somehow have been convinced that computers have replaced the drawing boards to greater extent, worldwide. Still today in India, computers have to enter into Architectural education through back doors only. One has to be optimistic enough to believe that, computers will be at forefront of Architecture education soon. T-Squares, and drawing sheet containers, will hang only on walls and would be obsolete technology soon, very soon. Do not get confused between a drawing board and a sketch book. Laptop sacks would definitely have a compartment for sketch books, after all hand to mind co-ordination cannot be challenged. Pencils are still loved over mice by Architects and Architecture students.
With the advent of technology, Architects’ offices have seen a drastic change in office layout and systems. I remember, in year 1994, when one of the senior Architects bought a first computer after so many tantrums and foolish excuses. He created a separate room for that 286 or 386 machine and made sure nobody except ‘computer operator’ entered the ‘computer room’. The concept of computer room vanished very soon, and drawing boards were found lying in the corners and used as dining tables for the staff.
Even though computers have been entering through back doors in the Architecture institutes since last decade, the faculty and bosses in the institutes are still not being able to or even not ready to accept this change comfortably, students seem to have been accept this change with no troubles at all. In fact, in some institutes, students have taken a lead role in maintaining and upgrading the computer labs and systems.
Now the big question, has there been any change in the working systems in an Architect’s office, or teaching and learning methodologies in the institutes?
Is it the high time that we need to formulate new systems for offices and Institutes?
In this note, I would look at some of the possibilities, which have either been adopted or can be adopted to create a better teaching and learning experience at Architectural Institutes. In second part, I would peep into an Architect’s office and discuss the change that technology has brought and more possible changes that can be adopted.
PART ONE STUDENTS
Computers have affected the education system at three different levels, one is system of the institute itself, second is the teaching methodology and third at the students’ level, the learning experience.
First things first, let me discuss the role of computers at the students’ level first. Like never before, technology has attracted youngsters to larger extent than the other ages.
After the use and exploitation of cellular phones, now it’s the turn of computers. In the observation made at our institute, IDEA, I discovered that the first thing that most of the students did to their computers was to customize the appearance and the interface. This continued till their laptops were powered with the Internet connectivity. The next moment, it was the turn of ‘orkut’, the use of which has grown phenomenally amongst all the age groups.
I bet, students know more than any faculty in the institute about the existence of cracked software or mp3 headquarters.
Our role as a faculty is to channelize this energy of students, so that we can help them also excel in Architecture academics. I would like to talk about the real life experience in teaching one of the subjects at CANS (College of Architecture, Nashik). I was discussing Gestalt with the students and at the end I threw an exercise like any other faculty would generally do. The exercise was to make a report on Gestalt, and its application in Architecture. Students were allowed to refer to any number of books, surf the Internet or even talk to psychologists if needed. One of the students did not only bring comprehensive information on Gestalt, but also brought additional information on other existing theories, which for some reason was skipped by me. Next bet, faculty needs to be afraid of the presence of Internet, anything said to students will be surely cross checked on the number of websites.
Students can be guided to become members of number of Architectural communities on the web, subscribe to the e-newsletters, visit blogs and also maintain blogs. Architecture always had more than one answer to the given problem, today computers have also opened out many options, may it be software or may it be presentation techniques or for that matter may it be language of Architecture.
PART ONE.ONE FACULTY
Faculty next, as said earlier faculty would need to channelize the creative energy of students in proper way. This is highly impossible unless faculty keeps itself updated and upgraded. Not only students, but faculty also needs to be an active part of the various communities to keep pace with the changing trends. Days have gone, when faculty almost read out notes in the class and every student created a 100% copy of building construction sheet manually.
Subjects at the Institutes have to be well integrated with each other; bridge has to be created between different subjects, so that we get rid of compartmentalized training system. This is not at all difficult with the advent of software in Architecture institutes.
Teaching schedules have to change, I remember faculty talking about meeting the deadlines and strict schedules, where we discussed Plans first, Elevations next, sections third and details last. Sounds funny to me now!
I never thought why our faculty was not asking us bring the entire scheme and discuss the development of scheme rather than developing the plans or sections in isolation. Modern software like BIMs (Building Information Modeling) shall be strictly incorporated in the teaching system, so that our designs are not treated differently for different subjects.
Again, it will not be right to say that faculty shall master all the available software; instead they can guide students in mastering the tools by using the power of internet efficiently.
The fear of being trailed by the technology can only be tackled by using it. One just cannot boycott the use of social networking sites out of the fear of being misused by students and public.
Implementing a system, where faculty appraisal is not only done on the basis of their presence in the campus or their control on students, but also their friendliness with technology is taken into consideration.
Statistics would say that, in India hardly 50% of faculty has email addresses, out of which only 20% access their mail accounts regularly, remaining may have forgotten either there user names or lost their passwords.
PART ONE.TWO INSTITUTES
The use of computers is not restricted to the administration or accounts department in the Institutes. The computers have been successful in penetrating well into education system also. May it be the exchange of data between a faculty and student, or to that extent may it be exchange of idea between institute and the rest of the world.
The need of the time is to understand and exploiting connectivity, connectivity with the rest of the world. This is possible by a simple gesture, creating an online community. An online community would be a wonderful idea of showcasing your work and at the same time inviting comments on the same. The community may not only be used as a showcase, but it can also be used for posting various views, tips and tricks, exercises or online competitions.
Next is implementing a Course management System (CMS) tools, for e.g. moodle, an open source CMS. Where the website does not only become the information provider but it can also become the hub of exercises, ideas and courseware.
The web has opened up the opportunity, of virtually inviting legendaries to become part of the institute. Institutes in India cannot afford to be conservative anymore.