The ongoing pandemic has not only affected architecture as an industry but has affected architecture education as well. The pandemic affected the way that architecture discourses were delivered. The virus led universities and educational institutes to shut down all over the world, taking in-person classes to online platforms. Though the system helps deliver lectures and maintain academic schedules, the long-term effects are unknown. Post pandemic architecture education is certainly going to be a different realm in the context of the syllabus, discourse delivery, workshops, exposure, etc. The virus has altered architecture education in ways unimagined. The situation has impacted the students and teachers alike. Following are few observations as to how the COVID 19 is affecting architecture education –
Transition and Adaptation to Interface Switch
The pandemic led to a transition from physical classes to online classes. Imagining the architecture discourse being delivered efficiently and benefiting the students through the online mode is a little unscrupulous. Architecture is a practical field of diverse nature, based on interactions and explorations at various levels – peer to peer, student and faculty, industry interactions, etc. The level of interactions and explorations that can happen in a physical studio is way more than those that happen over an online mode.
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While every one of us has tried to welcome and adapt to the online modes of working in life, with architecture education, 100% online mode cannot be the answer.
Architecture is and has never been about lectures and classroom studies solely, it is more about practical and on the ground exposure, peer-to-peer interaction, brainstorming sessions, deliberations, so on and so forth. Architecture as a course is more about experiential learning than listening to monologues. With the online mode of education, this aspect of architecture has taken a blow. In my view, students might have missed on valuable experiences and insights owing to being locked up in the comfort of their homes and increased screen time. The clarity of concepts and design development comes from deliberations at various levels, online mediums pose a barrier in this context.
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Limited! – Discussions, Deliberations, Brainstorming, …
Online platforms were certainly able to facilitate lectures, however, the much-required discussions, deliberations and/or brainstorming sessions in groups were limited. This in turn limited the exchange of ideas resulting in limited development of concepts and ideologies. Many architecture schools encourage the trend of open studios to strike conversations and deliberations amongst the students and faculty. This can happen seamlessly on campus in most of the institutes, however, the online mode of education poses a great barrier in this regard.
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Architecture is a skill-based course. Skills can be developed both online and offline, however, there are certain interpersonal skills and hard skills that develop better in a physical class. This becomes especially important for the students in the former years of the course. One can certainly watch and learn a lot of skills through the abundance of videos available over the web, however, to master a certain set of skills, constant interaction is essential. Skill development is an important part of architecture education. Certain skills can sure be developed through online platforms and MOOC courses, nonetheless, some skills can only be developed through constant instruction, institute infrastructure and face-to-face interaction.
No On-Field Exposure
Architecture education encompasses regular field visits, site visits and market surveys in addition to lectures and studios. Students suffered in this aspect of education due to the lockdown that was imposed in the nation. field visits or site visits were not an option during the ongoing pandemic, posing a setback to the students with regards to the practical exposure.
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Extended Institutional Boundaries
While there are negatives that came bundled up with the situation, there are positives too. Though the students lacked field exposure over the pandemic hit a year, but in many institutions, they got a chance to interact and engage with designers nationally and internationally, enrolled in numerous workshops and insightful webinars. Even the most dreaded end Sem juries and critiques took place over online forums. This helped in widening the horizons of the students by engaging experts from diverse walks of life, thereby extending the typical institutional boundaries.
Exploratory Limitations and Exploratory Pedagogy
The lockdown resulted in a lack of resources and paraphernalia for many students and technical gear for faculties. But at the end of the day, we are architects and architects in the making, meant to come up with solutions for the issues at hand. And we did just that! All the faculties and students with their limitations explored and innovated ways to meet the requirements of the course.
The pandemic paved a way for faculties to explore collaborative opportunities for themselves and their students. The crisis gave way for explorations and innovations in the pedagogic methods. Some of which might even stay when things resume post-pandemic. The digital platforms and tools would certainly make their way post-pandemic as an integral part of design education.
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The battle is still on! However, we are learning to live with the virus. Taking one step at a time, adapting to the conditions, innovating and bringing about a change in all spheres of our lives. The tough times make us believe that – “the show must go on!” And so it did, after a couple of weeks of being stuck and at a loss of ways to go about the situation, contemplations, the education continued with certain modifications, adaptations and transitions. “Change is the only constant” and the world changed during the pandemic hit period. The realm of education saw unimaginable changes. The crisis is an opportunity to change and evolve, it is a perfect time to reflect upon and move ahead with the positives and transition into a new era. The Covid-19 pandemic has its goods and bad, but it is us who will evolve as a generation once the pandemic subsides. It has affected architecture education both positively and negatively, but the academicians strive to put their bests to convert the negatives to positives and help evolve the architecture education scenario.
In case of any suggestions or experiences, please feel free to post them in the comments below.
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Article Category Architecture
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