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Teaching studio-based design courses online has numerous advantages to the student not available in the traditional classroom. Design education concentrates on guiding each student as they explore the process of conceptual and spatial design applied to a program and a project site.
Activities in the traditional classroom are synchronous, the class is together as a whole, working simultaneously.
The designer receives an email alert when comments have been made on his or her presentation and will know to log in and check it out. The online classroom also encourages the exchange of ideas through the “coffee”, an internal blog where the studio participants can share readings and articles related to what the class is discussing in studio. Patricia Bales Van Buskirk is an instructor at the Landscape Institute at the Boston Architectural College.
Welcome to Inhabitat, your online guide to the best green design ideas, innovations and inspiration to build a cleaner, brighter, and better future. As an instructor with over fifteen years of landscape design teaching experience, I have found that translating classroom learning to an online class actually enriches the experience of a landscape design class.

For the class to interact effectively, each student must be at the same place developmentally as all the other students.
In my online class at the Landscape Institute at the Boston Architectural College, Introduction to Landscape Design, students watch the lecture at a time and place of their choosing. When I comment on a student’s work, I am focused only on the work of that student, without the distractions of a classroom. In a traditional classroom, if a student gets off track and needs additional instructional guidance, this intensive assistance is given at the risk of losing the attention of the other students. An online forum provides a custom experience for each student at that student’s pace as his or her project develops, step by step and week by week. Studio courses require discussion between students, developing skills to critique and identify potential design solutions. I can pause — for a moment or longer — to reflect on the work of that student without holding up the class. At the Boston Architectural College, online classes have a high student to faculty ratio, keeping the classrooms small and tailored to the individual like a seminar.

In my class, weekly assignments throughout the semester focus on different aspects of this project and push the design concepts.
The other students also watch the presentations, at the time and place of their choosing, and see and hear both the designer’s and my comments. What has delighted me the most about the online classroom is that student participation is very strong.
As the instructor, I present information to the class, guide the conversation, and work individually with each student, developing that student’s design ideas and execution.
Discussions, although happening at different times for each of us, are perceived as happening in real time once we are online.

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