POST-PANDEMIC EDUCATION OF ARCHITECTURE PROGRAMS IN INDIA: LEARNINGS

08-Jun-2021

Background:

Covid pandemic presented an unprecedented situation in India, and globally, for educators to ponder on how to educate its students in wake of the pandemic. The challenge was situated in the context of an ongoing debate on the efficacy of online, digital off-campus teaching. The preceding period also witnessed an increasing inclusion of online teaching at all levels of academic learning – schools, higher education and research. In this context, the prolongation of the epidemic forced institutions to abruptly shift to an alternative mode of online, digital off-campus teaching. The brisk adaptations in learning-teaching and initiatives in the adoption of the alternative modes therein necessitated the tracking of this shift to assess the multiple approaches to adaptation at various Institutions.

The Pedagogy and Research Forum, Amity School of Architecture and Planning, Amity University Rajasthan initiated a project to monitor and track academia’s adaptation for pedagogical activities of undergrad Architecture program at Institutions of higher learning in India. The research conclusions were to be of specific interest since the Amity Educational Group conducts undergrad Architecture programs at eight different Universities. At the first stage, the project envisaged collating information from the educators to map their initiatives and predicate the emerging trends, and envisage trajectories for future pedagogical initiatives.

Process:

In May 2020, an online survey questionnaire was sent to educators teaching at institutions offering the undergrad Architecture program in India to obtain the following information:

  • The impact of Covid-19 disruption on usual face-to-face teaching processes and patterns.
  • Institutional adaptations and the IT/online platforms and tools adopted.
  • Efficacy of online teaching-learning processes from an educators’ perspective.
  • Faculty perspectives on the future of online/blended education.

Results:

The survey elicited about 121 responses from educators that represented 81 institutions conducting undergrad Architecture program in India. The respondents were well represented in terms of cadre (Fig. 1), and teaching experience (Fig. 2), with a median teaching experience of approx. 10 years. The establishment age of the Institutions represented a range from less than 5 years to more than 25 years (Fig. 3), thus distributed rather well.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

The survey revealed that almost 93% of the institutions had transitioned to an online, off-campus mode of teaching within 3 weeks of the Covid 19 lockdown, and only 7% took more (Fig. 4). This would surely imply that the transition was certainly brisk, which would involve a major learning curve. The shift would require provisioning of IT infrastructure, capacity building to learning and teaching online, realignment of pedagogical tools and concomitant learning objectives, adaptations of the assignments and evaluations, process development for examinations and results and many more. A lot of improvisations required can be envisaged based on the contingent coursework. However, it also emerged that online teaching in some form was already prevalent in 34% of the represented Institutions (Fig. 5), and the transition for them would have been smoother.

Fig. 4
Fig. 5

The IT platforms used for communication and online teaching adopted by various institutions primarily included Zoom, MS Teams, Whatsapp and Google classrooms amongst others (Fig. 6). The survey also revealed the usage of online learning platforms endorsed by the Government of India like NPTEL and SWAYAM, though other online educational platforms were sparsely used (Fig. 7).

Fig. 6
Fig. 7

Conclusions and further reading:

The study further explores the more substantive part to qualitatively inquire on aspects of online learning teaching. It enquires about the educators’ ease of transition to online teaching vis a vis face to face teaching. It also elicits educators’ perspective about the effectiveness of online teaching in undergraduate architecture courses. This information is collated to conclude the efficacy of online teaching for specific subject categories based on the Council of Architecture classification. The study also discusses many other aspects of digital education, its mediation with curriculum design, pedagogical tools and blended learnings.

Relevant References:

Anu Koponen, S. K., 2015. The Pace of Learning Combining Face-to-Face and Online Teaching in Architectural History. [Online]

Available at: https://wiki.aalto.fi/download/attachments/110559437/a_koponen_s_kivimaki.pdf
[Accessed May 2020].

Archinect, 2020. Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19 on Architecture Education. [Online]

Available at: https://archinect.com/features/article/150195369/architecture-deans-on-how-covid-19-will-impact-architecture-education
[Accessed July 2020].

Council of Architecture, 2020. Council of Architecture (Minimum Standards of Architectural Education) Regulations, 2020. [Online]

Available at: https://www.coa.gov.in/showfile.php?lang=1&level=1&sublinkid=748&lid=599
[Accessed August 2020].

Mahmoud Reza Saghafi, J. F. P. C., 2012. Perceptions of physical versus virtual design studio education. International Journal of Architectural Research, 6(1), pp. 6-22.

MHRD, Government of India, 2020. National Education Policy 2020. [Online]

Available at: https://www.mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/NEP_Final_English_0.pdf
[Accessed August 2020].

Salama, A. M., 2020. Coronavirus questions that will not go away: interrogating urban and socio-spatial implications of COVID-19 measures [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Emerald Open Research, April.2(14).

Salama, A. M. & Crosbie, M. J., 2020. Educating Architects in a Post-Pandemic World. Common Edge, 14 October, p. 6.

For more details, please see:

Varma, A. and Jafri, M.S. (2021), "COVID-19 responsive teaching of undergraduate architecture programs in India: learnings for post-pandemic education", Archnet-IJAR, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 189-202. https://doi.org/10.1108/ARCH-10-2020-0234

By:
Dr Anurag Varma
Professor & Director
Amity School of Architecture & Planning, Amity University Rajasthan, Jaipur

Social Distancing