Digital learning in the Bachelor of Design

For Bachelor of Design student Mathew, online connections including class exhibitions, tutorials and meetings with friends were crucial to transitioning to digital learning.

Which subjects did you study in Semester 1, 2020?

I studied four subjects; Design Studio Delta, Construction Design, Site Tectonics, and Landscape Studio 3: Urban Open Space.

Can you tell us a little about the digital learning experience for Site Tectonics?

In the beginning, when the University decided to move the campus online, there were a lot of doubts and concerns about the effectiveness of the new method of delivering lectures, studios and webinars amongst the university community.

Most subjects in the Bachelor of Design are coursework-based, which means that getting actively involved in each project is really important for the design degree.

Digital learning turned out to be great, and not as hectic as I imagined. I truly appreciate all the effort and thoughtful arrangements from the tutors.

Every week, I had the studio in my regular registered time from MyTimetable, using the internet conference platform Zoom. We usually start with greetings then dive into weekly tasks and conversations about the upcoming assignments. During the studio, I would share my screen to demonstrate the progress of my work to my peers and tutor, and vice versa.

What programs did you use to create your projects in Site Tectonics?

I used different programmes depending on the tasks. For instance, during the early stages of semester, I was asked to hand-draw each plan and section. I also used AutoCad for digital drafting. For the final assignment, I used the software 3ds Max for digital sculpting and rendering for final production.

Revised proposed plan image

Did you need to upskill with any new programs or get specific advice from your tutors to help you get your projects done through Semester 1?

Yes! 3ds Max is a whole new world to me and it did give me a hard time in the beginning. I even searched for online tutorials and got familiar with the software during my spare time.

Luckily, I got quite a lot of help and support from my tutors. Some of our studios were even recorded so that we could always refer to it after class, and I am grateful for my tutors, especially now.

Can you tell us a little about the Site Tectonics online exhibition and the online crit process?

Since the online exhibition was public, I was able to showcase my work to others outside of the class. I even invited two of my friends to come along to our online exhibition opening event (the Site Tectonics exhibition is still live and open to the public here).

When you upload your work to the platform (we used Mural), tutors or peers would put a “memo” next to your work, critting the project and making a few comments so that you can modify it accordingly. The online crit process has been a big help to me.

How has the online learning experience been with your other subjects?

Miscommunication has been one of the biggest difficulties I encountered with other subjects during the lockdown. In general, there has been more back and forth in communications which probably took up more time than usual.

For me, it has been an unusual but satisfying and fruitful semester.
Contour image
Have you reduced your study load or deferred due to the pandemic or shift to learning online?

I did not consider dropping or deferring. The workload and the amount of stress were pretty much the same. I really want to get my Bachelor degree as planned and graduate by the end of 2020.

Do you have any tips for other students that have helped you during lockdown and the transition to online learning?

Yes! Here are my tips:
1. Time-Management - Don't wait until the last minute. I know it's old and cliché but if you can nail it, whoof! You got a world ahead of you.
2. Chat with friends using Zoom - just host a Zoom meeting with friends. By the time you get used to the new way of connecting with people, you will soon find having classes and chatting with friends are more or less the same thing.
3. Exercise regularly - it helps to clear your mind. I personally find it super helpful, especially those days when I have to face the screen for like 10 hours.

Images: excerpts from Mathew Tong’s Site Tectonics assignment 3.
Video: Site Tectonics engineered scheme by Mathew Tong

Site Tectonics (ABPL20047) teaching team:
Dr Nano Langenheim (UoM and Monash University)
Ms Tianyi Yang (UoM and Swinburne University)
Mr Cosmo Darby (UoM and Rush Wright Landscape Architecture)
Mr Colin Chen (UoM and SBLA Landscape Architecture and Urban Design)

Site Tectonics assignment cover

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