Boston Architectural Center has utilized various innovative approaches to incorporating online delivery into the core work of studio-based learning.
How this practice supports access: In Fall 2000, Boston Architectural Center (BAC) began incorporating online learning into its bachelor's degree in architecture (B. Arch.) courses. BAC's B. Arch. courses are in four curricular areas: Technology and Management, Design, Visual Studies, and General Education. BAC launched its online learning effort with courses in the Technology and Management area. In Fall 2001, BAC incorporated online learning into courses in the Design and Visual Studies areas, including a design studio course. By Fall 2002, BAC had incorporated online learning into courses in all four curricular areas and began developing an online certification program in Sustainable Design, which will be available starting in Fall 2003. BAC uses different mixes of course delivery methods depending on the curricular area. General Education courses are hybrid (online + in-person) courses; Technology and Management and Visual Studies courses are online or hybrid courses (online + in-person, online + video); and Design Studio and Design Thesis courses are a mixture of online and hybrid courses. These mixtures represent an attempt to match the appropriate delivery method and instructional model based on the course.
Student and faculty experiences were measured through a series of class and instructor evaluations, as well as meetings with faculty. Anecdotal student evidence was also collected in order to gain a more complete perspective. Surveys were also used to provide feedback, which were administered through the web-based interface. Among the results found:
Costs are relatively low to fund this process. Instructors are not given additional money to teach online, although there are nominal payments for developing the material for online use. Technical costs are also relatively low, although there is the potential for a fairly substantial increase in cost if the BAC decides to expand the online component to the degree that it would require more servers or a more expensive Blackboard license.
Hoffer, E.R., and Kaulenas, D., "Application of ALN to Professional Design Education," Eighth Sloan-C International Conference, Orlando, FL, November 2002. URL (slide presentation):http://www.sloan-c.org/conference/proceedings/2002/track1.asp
The BAC has experienced a significant increase in enrollment, which has forced students into online sections of courses. This means that some students have been forced to take an online-enhanced course, where as before this was strictly voluntary. This has caused some problems with a few students. There are significant interests. The foundation studies and Thesis departments of the school want to use the online environment just to teach. There is also an interest to use the online environment as a central repository of student resources and work.