These days, we all know our way around a zoom call (for the most part). When classes shifted online last spring, it seemed like our routine had been turned upside down. This year however, the virtual world of classes has been easier to navigate as we have come to know what to expect. While virtual schooling is a necessary response, and has been a great adaptation to our circumstances, it has not come without its share of difficulties, as we all know. So, you may be interested to know: What does an online education look like almost a year later from its start? Let us give you a glimpse…
Right now in the department of architecture, due to the still semi-cold weather, as well as a precaution to limit covid cases, many classes are held online. However, in most classes we were given the choice as to whether or not we wanted to meet in person in the Architecture, Mathematics, and Engineering shop (where we can open the large shop doors), meet online, or do a hybrid system where we meet in person a few days a week as well as meet online. The decision is most times based on what subject the class is. For example, in some cases meeting online is actually beneficial because sharing work is made simpler, or conversations are easier without masks on, for example.
When it comes to our studio courses, they have largely been managed the same way. Typically we will meet on zoom throughout the week to share our work on the platform called Miro, to receive critiques and have discussions. One shop class is taught strictly through Zoom, but because it focuses on making animations through Enscape, Twinmotion, and Lumion it has been working quite well. Besides physical modeling, sketching, and experiencing the studio environment, none of which can’t be achieved digitally, creating plans, sections, and 3D models have been made simple through advancements in modeling programs. But even physical models and sketches may be photographed or scanned in. The lack of studio ambiance is a different story.
The biggest difference in receiving a predominantly online education probably comes in the lack of “studio culture” created by students visiting others’ desks and discussing a project or that new Netflix series. Even though the studio is accessible for students to work, it is not the same with only a few utilizing it, and masks aren’t exactly sound-projecting devices. We know it is all for our safety though, and come to think of it, the redesigning of our education is probably not too far off a typical architectural remodeling project, right?
Everyone has adapted and the faculty have especially made it work by creating organized/flexible workflows, updating websites, hosting open Zoom hours, pausing lectures to ask for questions, and taking breaks during studios for tea warming and eye resting. As students, we are so thankful for how faculty have dealt with the change. We hope to be back in the studio soon though with the bustling atmosphere and physical presence it is known for, as well as with our new-found knowledge created by working in an online format for more than a year. After all, we have learned a few things from zoom…did you know lectures can be recorded? Score!
By: Autumn Schlomer and Jocelyn Rothmeier
Jocelyn is currently a fourth-year architecture student enrolled at South Dakota State University. She is a Co-President of SDSU’s AIAS chapter, and has learned so much from her leadership role in the organization. She is graduating with her BFA in architecture this spring, and plans to continue on a path towards her M.Arch at SDSU in the fall of 2021.