Blogging in Urban Design Education


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Presentation given at of the use of the open source WordPress blogging platform used in the MA in Urban Design Programme at Newcastle University.
Joint presentation given by Georgia Giannopoulou (School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape) and Ashley Wright (Quality in Learning and Teaching) of Newcastle University, UK.

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  • ReCap -
  • A lot of talk how privatisation, commercialisation, globalisation destroy places
  • A lot of talk how privatisation, commercialisation, globalisation destroy places
  • Some of the people all of the time and most of the people some of the time, don’t try to avoid the city
  • 1 - Skinner, Elisabeth (2009) 'Using community development theory to improve student engagement in online discussion: a case study', Research in Learning Technology, 17: 2, 89 — 100
  • Blogging in Urban Design Education

    1. 1. www.nclurbandesign.orgBlogging in Urban Design Education:A Virtual Public Domain of Exchange Georgia Giannopoulou and Ashley Wright
    2. 2. This presentationWhat we didWhy we did itHow we did itOpennessHow it evolvedWhat are the challengesWhat did we gainWhat did the students gainWhat we learntWhat is the future like
    3. 3. What we did A Blog as a virtual “live” student designed handbook Incorporated in existing modules and marked Minimum contribution requirements Instigated and facilitated by us but not led… Control gradually to students Moved from (2010/11) to (hosted) in 2011/12 Started in 2011, repeated in 2012, 2013…..
    4. 4. Why we did it To capture the experience of a 1-year cohort (MA in Urban Design) Mentoring through alumni To promote reflection in learning To foster community To promote the course To promote personal attributes e.g autonomy, reflexivity, cultural competence in higher education students
    5. 5. How we did it: the technology AY10-11 Considered using a Wiki but decided on a blog (suited subject) Unsure of scope so used WP with a view to possibly hosting and free (ish) Bought domain name through WP provider Students register with WP and given role of Editor Demo to students, explain blogging concept and implications Supported student cohort via email, f2f, ReCap tutorials & WP help/community
    6. 6. How we did it: the technology AY11 - 12 Wished to incorporate other social software feeds in the Blog  Moved to Wordpress .org Hosted with a 3rd party web provider Assistance of an external web company – READYSALTED  Created new entry page design  Added plugins to the install  Feeds from Twitter, Flickr, contact form Different method of registering students Minimal support
    7. 7. How we did it : The students’ tasks Register with WordPress Create a Profile : their public image Decide on pages and categories Decide on links Familiarise with how to post and comment Experiment with writing styles Manage the pages in appearance and content (active surveillance) Iterative process on what works and what doesn’t Reflect on what they did and what it was like for them
    8. 8. Openness To the WWW… A brief that is open to interpretation… …different meanings for different cohorts …open to diversity encouraging imprinting cultures and experiences… …what is not verbalised can be lost… Comment is free… A virtual “Public Domain”: an arena for social expression… “the foreigner carries the world in himself” (Jung 1942)
    9. 9. Openness : A “Public Domain” …safety and control exercised unconsciously by the participants “framing encounters that are both intimate and intrusive”(Zukin) Number of events/people and time spent…increases vitality of space Acting on the street : learning “urban meaning” Order and democracy Degrees of public Behaviour….
    10. 10. Public Domain as an experience “Public Domain is not so much a place, as an experience. Public domain experiences occur at the boundary between friction and freedom. On the other hand there isalways the tension of a confrontation with the unfamiliar; on the other the liberation of the experience of a different approach. In the main our public domain experiences are infact, related to entering the parochial domains of others..”
    11. 11. Cultural Geography: A place for productionof meaning Public domain comes into being where places represent multiple and incongruent meanings…rather than conscious production of meaning The sharing of the virtual space makes exchange possible between groups that otherwise follow entirely separate space-time paths “Citizens create meaningful space by expressing their attitudes, asserting their claims and using it for their own purposes” (Zukin)
    12. 12. Social function of “Blog” as public domain “freeing, exhilarating, fun, exciting” “seek out a little danger, endanger a little anxiety” Urban fun based on anonymity: a. Identity games: passing, performing, pretending (appearance, location and behaviour) b. Conventional Games: Encountering and conversing with strangers (appropriateness, desirability, legitimacy)
    13. 13. How it evolved Funding from STLC to improve design… READYSALTED on board Added new functionalities: Flickr, Twitter, Q&A box, Entry Page etc. Link to last year’s Not starting completely from blank slate More ownership to students More focus on cultures
    14. 14. What are the challenges Scalability Institutional policy – catch up WordPress – risks of the unknown, open source forever? Motivation for posting in amongst course requirements Representation of Newcastle University from such an open platform… Democratic procedures and management A personalised look Marketing and students
    15. 15. What did WE gain Links to increased applications and quality of applicants… A more engaged, more inclusive and more collaborative cohort Publicity! New experience and reflection… Feedback
    16. 16. What did THE STUDENTS gain “Blogging expresses the importance of social and peer interaction as foci of the learning community. Instructors of courses rooted in a knowledge discipline can use blogs to lead students through thefoundations of that discipline in order to contextualize real-world experiences. Because they are able to advance their ownperspectives and experiences, students make aninvestment in what they post to their blogs”Instructional Blogging: Promoting Interactivity, Student-Centered Learning, andPeer Input, Glogoff, Stuart. Innovate: Journal of Online Education1. 5 (Jun2005): 5.
    17. 17. What did the students gain More social interaction and community of practice Cultural exposure and competence Reflective learning and peer learning Sense of pride and ownership leading to…. …higher motivation and better performance Increased personal autonomy through invitation to create and own Sense of belonging to a larger community of Urban Designers Some fun in the course!
    18. 18. What did the students gain : quotes “…Helpful to know where we all stand different” “…Helped me organise my thoughts and ideas and get feedback” “…A window to places I have never been and never really thought of” “…I have been genuinely surprised by how much I have enjoyed blogging/commenting and how interesting and useful I found other people’s comments” “…Open up lines of communication” “…A supportive message for next year’s students, with current students imprint”
    19. 19. Lessons
    20. 20. Lessons A strong branding may not suit all cohorts Ingesting and presenting other Web apps is more fiddly and requires more support A fine balance between guidance/facilitation and firm hand…or…lack of That it worked in many more ways than we had hoped That a clear but open brief works best That we need to incorporate a system to ensure frequent posts There are costs associated…
    21. 21. What is the future like We will do it again! It is enjoyable and stimulating to work this way Curious to see where it takes us year by year
    22. 22. in Urban Design Education:A Virtual Public Domain of Exchange Georgia Giannopoulou and Ashley Wright