Online pedagogy: how to teach hands-on architecture and design courses virtually

Tips for architecture tutors, mentors and scholars.

Lab courses might prove challenging when moved online.

One of the biggest challenges of teaching online from anywhere is sustaining the lab components of classes. Since many labs require specific equipment, they are hard to reproduce outside of that physical space.

So how can you move your lab-based education online?

Good new is- online lab-based courses already take place and they are possible, you just need to prepare for them and learn from those who have done it ahead of you. Learn more on how to this and get other useful tips in my Facebook group for online architecture course creators.

Consider the following as you plan to address lab activities:

· Define what the lab should achieve: different lab activities serve different purposes.

· Take part of the lab online: many lab activities require students to become familiar with certain procedures, and only physical practice of those processes will do. In such cases, consider whether there are other parts of the lab experience you could take online (for example, video demonstrations of techniques, online simulations, analysis of data, other pre- or post-lab work). Save the physical practice parts of the labs until access to campus is restored.

· Investigate virtual labs: online resources and virtual tools might help replicate the experience of some labs (e.g., virtual dissection, night sky apps, video demonstrations of labs, simulations, YouTube videos). Those vary widely by discipline, but check with your textbook publisher, or sites such as Merlot for materials that might help replace parts of your lab during the closure.

· Provide raw data for analysis: in cases where the lab includes both collection of data and its analysis, consider showing how the data can be collected, and then provide some raw sets of data for students to analyze. This approach is not as comprehensive as having students collect and analyze their own data, but it can keep them engaged with parts of the lab experience during the closure.

· Increase interaction in other ways: sometimes labs are about providing time for direct student interaction. Consider other ways to replicate that type of interaction or create new online interaction opportunities, including using available collaboration tools. If you are still searching for software platforms to provide you with space to host such interactions read: Free remote working tools to help designers and architects stay connected with their team.



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Sara Kolata

Sara Kolata


Helping architect and design specialists, mentors, tutors, scholars and consultants transition into a digital world.