Tag Archives: Learning

How do you learn

SwitzerlandI read an article on the Faculty Focus new email, I get quite frequently. its focus was on the way students learn, written by Martellen Weimer, it got me thinking as I was updating my own slide set ready for Sept / Oct.

We teach, or Lecture, there is a difference, I hope I do a little of both, some days there is so much to get through, it tends to be a lecture, but as often as I can, I teach, that is I interact with the students, both during the attendance time and after.

I am currently also reading Whats the use of Lectures, by  Dona;d A Bligh, it’s a little heavy in places, but worth it so far.

I care for the students, I want them to pass, but I expect some form of commitment, attendance at my lectures, come to the lectures prepared, that is having read my notes, and reading list, coming with sufficient paper pencil set, and detail paper, and a willing ness to talk.,,,,, oh and not to sit at the back so they can log onto the wifi and watch facebook or videos.

I have thought of giving a short lecture on how to learn, I wonder how many would turn up.

But back to the subject in hand, how do students learn, so far all I have commented on is my way of teaching, it seems that I should, perhaps sit back and watch how they learn, in my early years teaching, all I had to go on was my first hand experience at college, some excellent lecturers and great practical advice and training.

I would like to pass that experience on, but modern Universities seem not to have those facilities, lecture rooms or nothing. So perhaps friendly site visits are in order, at least there is a way to see a site working, but little chance to lay a brick or mix and test concrete.

Video is also a way forward, its so easy to use with electronic whiteboards and in-class projectors, but it still lacks the feel you get from doing it.

Some one once said to me teaching is easy,,,,,, how wrong they were, it’s not easy, knowing your subject is the easy part, getting it over so students learn is the hard bit, and once you loose them because your boring, thats it, finish, start again, change your ways, I can’t admit to being perfect, some days I come out of lectures with a real buzz, it’s worked, but others I feel just deflated.

Some times it in the preparation, you think your slide set works, but after, or even during the lecture, you know it’s not working.

Some lecturers it’s a class only thing, no out of class interaction, I can’t do that, Architecture and construction is hard enough, dealing with CAD and getting the materials to lay correctly is completely another thing, so I tend to say, always available and will give as much time as my good lady will allow, or you will be home on time tonight dear !, so I tend to be in Uni early to try to get that “out of class” interaction..

The ones who do interact like this, tend to be the ones who give more in the lecture, not afraid to question or ask me to stop and expand.


Summer Study

Poppy at lastAs we approach the end of the academic year, my attention is drawn to the simple fact, what shall I do till September, well the answer is where to start, I have research to do, summer study,  lectures to write and so much more domestic stuff, its hard to think what I should be doing and what not.

I want to be able to do more than one thing at a time, and I used to think studying was a singular occupation, not any more, I now listen to lectures and presentations whilst I do so many other things, gardening, walking, travelling, its so easy to pick up lectures from iTunes or in my case so often these days, Google play, plug in and away i go.

For pleasure I so often download good books I want to read on my Kindle, and for that matter, articles and academic papers in PDF format to, its so easy to upload them and whilst I travel on the train I can read.

I also have an Audible account, so I can listen to a good book as well as read it. Amazons Audiable.co.uk system is so good for this, see the link banner at the bottom. They have a deal on, 30 free trial and you get one free book, set it up for your holidays.

I also use my evernote account for papers and web pages I have seen and want to keep, Evernote is so good for this, I can also add notes and links as I read, although I can do this in Kindle, but its not so easy to retrieve the text, Evernote makes this so easy.

Todays photo is just a capture of a poppy we have in the garden, its never really done any good, till this year and we had 9 flowers out at once,


Using a Note Book

2Q==I have found an excellent book, which I intend to purchase, bySimon Unwin, on Using a Note Book, or moleskin, if the web page is anything to go by, its going to be a joy to read.

The web page has just so much, on the purchase, keeping and use of a Note book.from what to study and how to record it. At £24.00 for a used copy and nearly £30 for a new copy, its not cheap, but again if the web page is anything to go by its a must. I shall see if the library at Birmingham City Uni has a copy first, but I don’t think it will stop me purchasing a copy.

On the Web page are links to a pdf example of some of his work, neat, methodical and a joy to read, and a great example of what should be, although I so often say, its your book, make it yours not some one else’s.

the best example I thought was his Entrances, obviously done on a mole Skin, is a very nice read. You can find them under Resources, its a lecture in its own right, and such a good read.

Other links include Heart & Place, again on Moleskins and both ready good reads. all three I have downloaded into my Kindle to read later, I have a trip in July, and I think they will be a nice read, I plan to visit Quedelon in France, and I can easily see a few hours sketching and writing being the order of the day, Whilst my good lady takes the sun.

You might also want to read the entire web page, its just packed with so interesting information, what, how, why.

My own Moleskin is almost full, and I an going to order another from Amazon, I am just to lazy to plod into the local Art shop. But I can’t now be without it, I know it will improve my sketching, and note taking, but what has happened by keeping a moleskin, is I see more, I stop to look, and feel.

One last point, and its one I have made so many times, is convert the book as Simon has done, into pdf and save it to evernote, it’s then completely available for research, oh write neatly, Evernotes OCR is good, but ……….


Try cleaning before detailing

WC badly detailedIt occurred to me, staying in a hotel for two days, that to detail, one must first learn to clean, or perhaps I could put it simply as “Try cleaning before detailing”, although on the surface the room I am in, looks ok, but looking at it as a Technologist, I see fault, beading that does not meet, toilets facing the wrong way, so making it difficult to clean, skirting that also are incomplete, leaving dust and dirt traps.

Until you use something, or clean it in ernest,  its difficult to imagine how and why a detail should be put together, and with what material. I teach a detailing course, and I have pulled together a walk about to take a look at the way details have fared over the years, some of the walk within the University, some of it in the streets about, just walking, sitting and watching, helps.

For the university walk, watch the cleaners, see how they clean, watch the users, in this case mostly students, watch how they walk, meet, lean, exit the rooms or corridors, then go back and study the detail, can you make it better, change the design, or is the detail as good as it gets and there is a maintenance item that needs to be made aware to the owner, in this case can the detail be dismantled easily, repaired.

For the external walk, study time, how has the detail fared through time, as its external has weather given it a beating. I did a previous blog on this some time back the seventh sense, time.

This exercise is not a ten minutes thing, it needs a day or so to watch, I might add this needs at least two days, its worth it, the detail will be so much better.

Try doing it to an old detail you have done way back in the past, be bold take a look, did it work.



Architectural Technologist – An alternative to a full time degree

When I first trained, I attended Warley college of technology, one day a week, from 9 am to 9 pm a long day, but a lot was crammed into this 12 hours. The remainder of the time I spent working for a variety of Architectural Practices in and around Birmingham.

My employers generally paid for my college fees, and let me attend college, generally the work experience interacted into the college work, with the day to day skills interacting with what I was learning at College, drawing and applying construction details.

Modern day university full time students have little of this interaction, and rely upon the summer to try and get work and learn what it's like to be in a practice. Those who are on part time courses, in many respects similar to my own experiences, still get the benefits of both world, and can add that all important employment ticket to there bow.

The question I ask is if you have a job lined up and your employer allows you to attend University one day a week, and pick up missed lectures online in the form of a Mooc, with your employer taking some of the role of the university lecturer, would you take it, looking back on my experience, I would jump at the chance, you have a job, your getting experience, and your studying for a degree, that your employer is contributing to, in the form of mentoring, if he or she pays some of your fees, so much the better, and you get to watch lectures in your own time, and as often as you want.

In my view,this make for such a stronger degree, so today I am attending a lecture called “Education and Business working together” at Birmingham City university, as part of the “Birmingham made me” design expo week or so, where I hope this subject will be discussed,.

So as I sit here waiting for the lecture to begin I wonder at the future of education and the value of a degree. I sit as an external examiner at Northumbria university and I can instantly tell from the work I am marking who is part time and who is full time, the difference in the quality if work is obvious. Would I as an employer look at the difference, absolutely, would I support a part time working environment, again absolutely.

The value of the Mooc or massive open online course, excites me enormously, could it be extended to the whole office, instead of just one person, the who.e office could be part of this,


Architectural Technologist – CPD and part of my Presentation to ICAT

Today's post is a little long, but I thought I might post the basis my presentation I should have given to the ICAT conference last Friday, its only a part of what i wanted to say, but 15 mins is not long !!!, again I regret not being able to get there, but you have to believe me when I say that the weather was just to bad to travel.

There is a slide presentation to of with this, but you will get the drift as you read through, again sorry for the length it's well over 3000 words, but I needed to get some points across. The actual presentation is a little longer than this.

You all know my interest in CPD, so I make no appologies for some of the comments re manufacturers, but we need to sort this out.

As I wrote this word came out re the way POPS is being altered, and I totaly agree on this.

Today's photo is taken from my iPad, and shows the temp profile of the planet, the UK is just to left of centre at the end of the very cold area flowing in from Russia.



CPD an extension of the degree in Architectural Technology

A degree in Architectural Technology is not a passport for employment, it is only an indication of intent.

Steve Scaysbrook

Employability is not just about getting a job. Conversely, just because a student is on a vocational course does not mean that somehow employability is automatic. Employability is more than about developing attributes, techniques or experience just to enable a student to get a job, or to progress within a current career. It is about learning and the emphasis is less on ‘employ’ and more on ‘ability’. In essence, the emphasis is on developing critical, reflective abilities, with a view to empowering and enhancing the learner

Ruth Lawton – Pedagogy for employability


Key Words

Career,Development,e-learning,CPD,Lifelong,learning,Architectural technology,MOOC,self directed learning,networked learning,Mentor,Mentoring,employment,employability,

CPD for the future

Every qualified Technologist has to prepare a plan of their needed CPD requirements for any year so he, or she may attain at least 35 hours of sustained continuos professional development – CPD.

For most it's a haphazard leap from month to month looking for anything that resembles CPD, relying almost entirely upon manufacturers for their entire CPD needs, dotted with the odd organised events from a number of professional institutes, and the odd paid for lecture.

Almost no forward panning is engaged, instead, so often its down to who ever comes through the door, that can offer a CPD presentation, at best it is a subject relating to your current work load, at worst, it is nothing to do with it, or your project.

The need for continuing professional development (CPD) in the UK and for that matter, the rest of the Globe has been recognised by most professional bodies, and in particular, the construction sector.

CPD or to call it by a common name, “lifelong learning” are vital to individual and organizational success. Keeping up practice knowledge with an ever increasing portfolio of law and material use.

All individuals learn in different ways from listening, watching, questioning, doing and helping others to learn. Lifelong learning programs aimed at people in the workplace must be suited to their particular needs, in both the professional and personal parts of their life.

Planned, structured and mentored learning should be organised to allow any individual to update and add to his or her own portfolio, and thereby add to the workplace knowledge base.

To add a certain quality or core theme for Architectural Technology, a core of fundamental subjects should be mandatory learning.

Most professional organisations recognise that 35 hours is a normal min requirement, although this can easily be increased when complex or new legislation is added to the workplace.

The RIBA have a published a core list that includes :

  • Being safe – health and safety
  • Climate – sustainable architecture
  • External management – clients, users and delivery of services
  • Internal management – professionalism, practice, business and management
  • Compliance – legal, regulatory and statutory framework and processes
  • Procurement and contracts
  • Designing and building it – structural design, construction, technology and engineering
  • Where people live – communities, urban and rural design and the planning process
  • Context – the historic environment and its setting
  • Access for all – universal or inclusive design.

They suggest that the 10 core curriculum topics be weighted and be a prerequisite of 2 CPD hours for each subject giving 20 study hours per year.

The adoption of a similar list maybe bias towards a more technical approach, but the core subject of the RIBA are also applicable to any. The list of core subjects should be laid out, together with a list of relevant subjects attaining to current and proposed projects the Technologist is going to need in the forth coming year.

The core subject list should be augmented by a personal list of subject in common everyday use, this could be mostly building regulation orientated, together with some day to day practice tools like CAD and specification use. Any list should be live, in that it needs constant attention and updating as the Technologists needs and career develops, with goals in terms of time added to give some idea of ranking or need.

Research of any topic should be done via research on the web, or within existing technical libraries, specific manufacturers and some via specialist presenters, or specialist in their field.

The reliance on manufacturers is a somewhat one sided approach to any subject, good manufacturer presenters will provide a balanced view of that particular industry, but it is alway in their own interest to present their company and their company products first, after all it is why they spend time attending a practice for free, and often paying for lunch, so they can secure only their materials in any specification.

Internet research is often the most popular way forward, but is thwarted with problems of none verified data, and manufacturers literature spin, not giving a complete or accurate picture. By far the best way is to pay for lectures, but even here Technologists often pay for attendance at a lecture, only to find it given by a manufacturer. or unknown specialist, who might just be supported by a manufacturer. This is not to say that Manufacturers presentations are in any way flawed, as long as it is made clear from the start that it is specific to that company.

External verification of any presentation is a way to give credence to a manufacturers presentation, and who better to review and approve manufacturers presentations for technical content and use to the Architectural Technologist than a University pier review. Surely this is an area that can easily be supported by any University alumni, and backed by current lecturers writing and researching presentations. Bringing in valuable fees and the even more valuable links to industry. The RIBA currently has it’s own approval system, but the University Alumni, would be more the stronger method, linking internal research to manufacturers research Data.

The idea that manufacturing could link into Academia is not new, but the links and pier review of material would give the office presentation a new lease of life. Instead of just one manufacturer, there might be a comparison of several.

A natural extension to the Academia review system could be a CPD alumni also offer any university a chance to offer specialist courses to Technologist’s wishing to add specialist credentials to their expertise. Ancient building or monuments, SAP or other, discussed later. A yearly fee could be applied to this attendance bringing in valuable fees and also keeping their current student within the university, far better to support our university Technologist courses than private companies.

Another extension to this might be a web site specific to the University, which would allow student papers to be viewed, and discussion promoted within the Alumni. The idea of an University alumni web site offers a chance to add links to papers presented to the site and an current CPD activity which can only enhance the Job job application, when used within a graduates CV.

Back to the need to carry out 35 hours of CPD, current CIAT, record needs are met buy a simple A3 two sided paper record, that has limited record space, and allows hardly any room for notes and links, is flat and offers no external interrogation.

Record keeping for the purposes of any CPD activity, consisting of research, or lectures attended, should be carefully recorded, on a system that allows for accurate , searchable notes from simple electronic text notes to audio recordings to video and photographs. I might add that even paper is useful, if neatly written and scanned into an electronic format ie PDF, that can be tagged, linked and shared, with an OCR scan added.

Research and papers might be stored in a system that allows current search engines to interrogate the personal archive, as part of any day to day research. It is this personal archive that adds to the performance of any technologist giving transferable skills that will enhance and technologist looking for work.

The Evernote app that plugs into so many of the current browsers, allows just this net and private archival of search. It soon proves an invaluable source of research to the Technologist. Why spend all that time and effort into researching a subject just for that moment, any notes and research material should be live for the future, constantly updated.

Evernote and it’s suite of programs and apps are an excellent example of “Personal knowledge base”, archive system, its free, is an industry standard ,cross platform cloud resource. that allows vast, almost unlimited record keeping, and most of all, allows easy sharing of data.

Specific tags to Evernote documents allow cross pollination of documents that might contain alternative sources and subject matter, available for search. OCR or optical character Recognition, allows further refinement of the search and document classification.

The use of Tags on any document allows external search engines to find and classify documents in much the same way, but with the added benefit of other researchers finding and citing the work, hence my comments on the University Alumni site for student papers.

Recording CPD activity can be done via an online database, within the Alumni site, or simple personal spreadsheet stored with Google Docs to record the hours spent, together with simple notes on each subject with formulas that add up hours and apply then to specific project activities allowing an instant overview of my CPD and highlighting areas to be picked up on. Links to any specific Evernote record completes the spreadsheet record allowing easy access to the research.

The use of a Google doc spreadsheet, allow easy sharing to mentors, without the need to program and maintain expensive sites, there is also a simple share embed facility to allow records to be displayed on a personal page within the University Alumni.

Not all presentations are equal, hours spent on any subject, should be subject to a weighting, was it good CPD and did I achieve the goal I set, perhaps weighting the hours spend for online V’s actual attendance and discussion. A personal attendance being seen as a bigger commitment, but time to attend is often cited as one of the main problems in attending any CPD lecture, Office pressure, family life all eat into the time any one can give to creating and maintaining any ones personal CPD.

Online courses should offer the professional chance to study at a time convenient to him or her. Massive Open Online Courses, (MOOC), currently being rolled out by a number of institutes offer the solution to the real time problem of “time to learn”. the lecture or presentation not being at a convenient time.

They allow own time viewing 24/7/12, they are extremely cheap to set up, and offer easy access for both student and content creator.

But Self Directed Learning, is so often thwarted with the idea I can do it later, and when later comes only find there is little or no time left. In a traditional classroom, the lecturer and institute, are so often responsible for the time scale. Candidates operating their own self directed learning CPD, take responsibility for the organizing and implementation of their own time table.

But a balance between the two can be achieved, with the augment of modern communications, such as VOIP (Skype or Google) where a lecturer or Mentor, might be available to help discus and motivate the distance learner. Each Technologist being appointed a tutor to not oversea, but guide, comment, mentor, on the years activity, perhaps even maintaining the CPD documentation for the Technologist, giving both credence to the research and the way it has been applied.

Local cells might be formed within a local Architectural practice, where a Mentor might attend to give a lecture and take time to speak to the cell. The inclusion of current practices close to the University offers more exciting development of the practice CPD, allowing development of the link in reducing PI fees and establishing live project access for younger students. A further development of this would be in placement for summer or year out students.

At what age does CPD end, the simple answer is never, with the age barrier of 65 being ignored by so many men and women, who rightly feel they have still a few more years of active contribution left.

Legislation and construction techniques so often need constant updates, giving the problem of older and obviously more experienced Technologists the problem of being assigned a mentor who might be less qualified both in years of experience and qualification. The MOOC partly removes this problem, but more mature lecturers would be needed who can be seen as on par or more senior to the older student. Perhaps giving a different style of mentorship.

Currently post graduates have to apply for Charter-ship of the Chartered institute of Architectural Technologists, CIAT, and develop and maintain what is known as a POP’s record, this currently is external to the University system, being almost self motivated and often mentored by the current membership, with any University involvement only at the end as pier revue of the documents before being sent to CIAT. The University Alumni could offer a more specialist system for monitoring the path and development of the POPS record or other system, rather than waiting to the end of the two year so often spent in its creation, only to find it being refused.

Might this be considered as a Post graduate award, even replacing POPS, currently undergoing a lot of change, which would be taken into the University. Giving some parity to the current School of Architecture course structure, and allowing further development of the discipline with a final three year course leading to specialist accreditation post qualification.

For more mature candidates who are already Chartered, it would be easy for a tutor to spot research of note and encourage taking it to a higher level, perhaps a masters or PhD. The CPD base and perhaps Alumni would add the base for this, and allow natural information progression, with the technical social sharing of information, lectures and notes, being encouraged, highlighting areas of research that might prove valuable to other Technologists, methods of working, construction details, material performance, and would give Technologist’s proof of their expertise in certain areas.

Although a University Alumni is advocated, the existing batch of social networks and their spread across the globe should not be ignored., therefore links to sites like twitter, facebook, and linkedin should be a prerequisite to any Alumni site.

New methods of giving papers might also be explored, fitting in with so many peoples need to watch lectures and do their own research at times often not suitable for most, with video now being so easy to generate and disseminate, with the likes of Youtube, Viddler, and others, this medium is most suited to the personal lecture or MOOC. Even live hosting of personal presentations of papers via sites like Google+/hangout, giving direct feed to Youtube for storage and retrieval.

Research is so often done with the aid of both written text, but increasingly photographs and video are providing valuable insights to details that help promote and prove good detailing and as a way to avoid bad practice.

The use and development of this new media should not be overlooked, modern tagging of media now allows easy search of items, and sites like Youtube remove the need for expensive storage. The use of private tags allow video use to be kept to a small dedicated groups if needed. Sites like Google’s Web Picasa allow for almost unlimited storage of photos and video. But so do specialist sites like Flickr, Youtube and Vimeo.


Pedagogy for Employability http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/employability/pedagogy_for_employability_update_2012

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Stephen Emmitt, (2005)

Architectural Technology

Stephen Emmitt

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Professional Education & Practical Manner of Architect in Contemporary China: Review on the Practical Course in Architectural Education from Training Target and Teaching System Perspective

Qin Lin


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Architectural Technologist – Kickstarter The people’s E-book

I thought I would bring this rather good Kickstarter project to your attention, Jon Pickup showed it to me this morning, and after we had finished chatting, I looked it up, I was so impressed that I donated $10 and it looks like they have gone over their target of $10,000

Ebooks are certainly the future, I loaded up a stack of books on my kindle for the USA trip, and I was not the only one, loads of people could be seen carrying or reading their kindles.

I have several books I am writing and will make them available on both paper and of course EPub.

As we teach video and animation will come into it's own, highlighting methods and order of material installation, so often I have read papers on detailing given in by students and although the detail looks good, that have forgotten the sequence of build with the result that it was almost unbuildable. So I have high hopes for construction books becoming more available as electronic versions.

Also I want to see more interaction with search, I want my books to be searched by google, Evernote gives this function, the current systems I use, kindle and Apple have very limited links, Apple being the best,