How the Architecture Team Has Adapted to Online Teaching and Learning

A Message from Falecia Williams, President, West and Downtown Campuses

When the Valencia College Architecture students and faculty left for spring break in early March, they wished each other happiness and health and expected to soon be together again. At the time, the coronavirus was a feature on the nightly news and internet headlines, but no one expected the virus would cause life to drastically change in the way that it has in the past month. But now, a month later, students and professors are working from home and moving forward with the business of education in a new, albeit hopefully brief, reality.

“If you’d asked me a month ago: ‘is an online Architectural Design course possible?’ I would’ve shaken my head and said ‘no,’ maybe even laughed,” said Professor Allen Watters, professor, architecture and chair of the articulated Valencia College and University of Central Florida (UCF) Architecture programs. “However, while I can’t wait to get back to face-to-face studio courses sooner than later, through the hard work and dedication of the architecture professors and the determination of the students, this is actually working.”

In many cases, faculty and students are excelling.

Professor of Architecture Kourtney Baldwin spends time teleconferencing with each of her students Monday through Saturday. Her students have told her that while they look forward to returning to campus, the extra personal attention they’re receiving from all of their professors is helping to inspire and propel them toward a successful end of this semester.

“I’m absolutely impressed with the students’ fortitude and resilience. I know of several who are taking care of infirmed family members while continuing with their educations without missing a beat,” recounts Courtney. “It is a testament to them.”

Elsewhere in the program, Professor of Architecture Joshua Treadway is spearheading work with programs that have allowed students and professors alike to engage each other in virtual studio environments. Programs like Zoom and Conceptboard have seamlessly enabled the critical work of the Design studios to continue.

At the end of April, students who will be matriculating from Valencia College to UCF will submit their work for an academic event called Pin Up, a yearly event since 2010 that allows students to “pin-up,” or present, their coursework from Valencia College’s Architectural Design 1 through Design 4 sequence for consideration of admittance into UCF’s upper division portion of the articulated 2+2+2 architecture program.

“It’s my favorite time of the academic year,” said Allen. “The intellectual energy that is in the room when all the students are together is thrilling.”

This year, for the first time ever, Pin Up will be an entirely digital event, a reality that was necessitated by regards for safety and the demands of social distancing.

“Again, if you’d told me a couple of months ago that Pin Up could be digital, I would’ve been skeptical at best,” Allen shared.

But the 2020 digital Pin Up, arranged within the past two weeks by partners at UCF and Valencia, currently has more than 100 students slated to participate, a record number.

“It’s really the students and their determination to continue moving forward with their goal that motivates my colleagues and I,” Allen explained. “Like the Pin Ups of the past, it is an energy that is incomparable.”

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