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Content or Delivery: What Needs to Change in AEC Education?

Last month, I attended and spoke at the CITA BIM Gathering in Dublin. During the panel after presentations from Greg Howell, Martin McGrath, Lorraine Brady, Rich dePalma, and me, an educator in the audience made a comment about incorporating BIM into university education. I paraphrase:
Given the process and industry transformation that goes along with BIM implementation, we need to make space in curriculum. We need to lobby NCARB and other accreditation boards to change their academic requirements.
I, along with the other speakers, agreed about the need for some change in education to support industry BIM adoption. I couldn't wholeheartedly agree with his comment, though. It wasn't until the plane ride home, when I read New York Times Magazine How to Get a Job with a Philosophy Degree, that I figured out why.

Perhaps we don't need to remove components of the curriculum of architecture, engineering, and construction. Perhaps we need to change how coursework is delivered.

First, industry and academia need to partner to update and define core competencies. I believe that industry context and behaviors, collaboration, and problem-solving should take priority over software. Most students will figure that piece out pretty quickly on their own.



Second, we need to determine how we can change the environment and delivery of education to teach these skills. If progressive institutions can incorporate core career skills like communication and collaboration into Japanese-history courses, we should be able to purposefully do the same with studio and statics. We can use industry techniques, like colocation and pull planning, as educational tactics - something that is already happening in other disciplines.

For our industry, this is more than merely creating job-ready curriculum. In many ways, this is about changing our industry's image, so that it is attractive to smart and creative people. This may be about addressing our workforce shortage.

What do you think needs to happen in AEC education? What needs to change?

6 comments:

malachymathews said...

I think Laura first we have to change the mindset of AEC educators. They will have to be brave to break out of their own teaching silos, college and university teachers have been taught to think about what they know and how they know it drives the way they teach it, teachers can change the way they teach only by changing what they think about, what they know and about how they know it. Bruffee (1993)

malachymathews said...

I think Laura first we have to change the mindset of AEC educators. They will have to be brave to break out of their own teaching silos, college and university teachers have been taught to think about what they know and how they know it drives the way they teach it, teachers can change the way they teach only by changing what they think about, what they know and about how they know it. Bruffee (1993)

Евгений Ширинян said...

Hi Laura,
I lead the "Digital Culture" module at Moscow Architectural School (http://march.ru/en/). Of course, we have a topic related to BIM. But I really tryiung to distinguish the design process and the modeling process because the last one becomes nowadays larger and larger. You can argue that design and modeling are the same thing but I don't think so. We have to develop our attitude to the BIM trend and elaborate effective techniques of impleneting its essence in architectural education. It's not easy. First of all - define what is a design process.

Recently I posted some thoughts (in Russian), and here is the translated link
http://translate.google.ru/translate?sl=ru&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=ru&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fprosapr.blogspot.ru%2F2013%2F12%2Fblog-post.html

Google translated somewhere "a model" as a layout, simulation etc. Hope that the main idea is understandable

Regards,
Evgeny Shirinyan

James L. Salmon said...

Great insights Laura. Collaborative Construction, and our partners in the Smart Built Culture Series in 2014 will tackle this issue head on. As an experienced trial lawyer I am painfully aware of the need to appeal to multiple learning styles. With respect to key evidence I always wanted my jury to hear it, see it and hold it in their hand. The skills needed to successfully adopt, adapt to and deploy BIM and IPD in the built industry are not easily acquired and must be acquired by a cross-disciplinary team, usually on the fly. Practicing the process as juniors and seniors in college certainly makes sense. Again, we are going to tackle a number of theses issues in the Smart Built Culture Series next year. Anyone interested in participating as a sponsor or partners should contact me.

Charmaine Ferguson said...

Laura, I have joined this struggle about changing the way we teach and learn since I graduated from a University in Denmark. I think everything you are saying is spot on. The world around education is moving so fast (particularly in regards to technology) but the education industry seem to be at a stand still with too many 'old school methods' that are trying to be moulded and formed to suit today's world and its not working. It is obviously time for change.... but how do we do that...?

Last night I was listening to the radio and I heard that David Guetta has collaborated with over 60 artists... and why is he successful.... because of collaboration. Everything in life is becoming about collaboration, crowdsourcing and team building we need to support this platform and not see is a as detrimental to teaching and learning within the education industry otherwise we're simply not learning, being innovation nor moving forward.

I think assessment is also another major issue in this debate. How do we assess collaboration... how do we assess technology at a 'fair' and 'justifiable' level. I personally think this is a perfect example of trying to mould old school methods into new forms that simply don't work.

James L. Salmon said...

Charmaine nails one of the key issues when she notes that we are trying to mold old school methods into new forms. I have presentation in which I describe the problem of utilizing old school legal agreements to deliver BIM and IPD as driving a round green peg through a square brown hole.

The existing legal framework is antiquated, siloed and broken. Old school legal instruments reinforce the fragmentation, antipathy and paranoia antithetical to BIM and IPD. If you want more of something then you must reward it.

Our existing legal frameworks in the built industry reward fragmentation of teams, adversarial relationships and paranoid behavior. And people wonder why nobody wants to adopt BIM and IPD on live projects.

If you want to reward collaboration, integration and innovation then you need to draft legal agreements that reward rather than inhibit those behaviors.