International Journal of Academic
Research in Education and Review
Vol. 1(2), pp. 21–28,
Rethinking Teaching: How ICTs learning environments Can and Should
Completely Alter Your View of Education in Architecture
of Architecture, National Taipei University of Technology, Taiwan.
The expanding use of new information technologies
has included both initial and maintenance professional education.
The present article explores how these new information and
communication technologies (ICTs) are transforming the process of
professional education, delves into the primary sources of that
transformation, and discusses how instructors should learn to teach
using the new technologies. Particular attention is given to the
increased potential for collaborative work that crosses
international and cultural boundaries, molding studies and exercises
to the interests of students and teacher rather than solely to
prescriptive mandates by external authorities, and altering the
pedagogical process to fully utilize the vastly more accessible body
of knowledge that has resulted.
Key words: Architecture, ICT, Pedagogy, Professional
education, teaching and learning.
ICTs seem to have influenced every area of our society, but it has
had very little effect on our conceptions of teaching and learning.
We don’t lecture to our children; they need to learn by doing, by
exploring their world under the guidance of adults who can help them
reconstruct their experiences and thus make sense of them. We don’t
lecture to the people who work for us; we let them do their jobs and
try to help as we can. How about us as educators today? There are
some studies (Zhao and Frank, 2003; Becker, 2000) challenge teacher
training programs should not “teach prospective teachers about
technology, but instead, should use technology throughout the
programs so that prospective teachers not only gain skills in
working with equipment and software but also experience how
technology can support the exploration, organization, and
communication of knowledge” through an emphasis on natural and
discovery approaches to learning in a technologically astute. ICTs
have many benefits and disadvantages shifting a new ways of learning
and teaching in terms of pedagogical improvement.
In these views, schools education err by training future teachers to
use a technology and equipments rather than instructional approach
to plan, design, execute, and feedback, to eschew direct instruction
in favor of either cooperative or collaborative learning and to
pursue minute goals like operating courseware and amusing yourself
in classroom (Means, 2004). Instructional technologies should also
shoulder a large responsibility for the failures of our education
reform. Teachers’ inadequate technology-base knowledge, their
misguided focus on technology integrated into curriculum reform and
teacher-centered classroom curricula, and their attitude of
complacency shaped by a uniform as contributing to students’ lack of
achievement and learning.
The response to this research question requires a review of
literature regarding the use of information and communication
technologies (ICTs) in professional-level education, especially in
architecture. This literature will be argued and examined in the
context of learning to teach using ICTs and the broad contextual
conditions of learning to teach with ICT as reported in this
literature and document analyzed. Identify issues associated with
the use of ICTs in architectural schools and what is missing that
makes these issues a significant area of research. An attempt is
made to discover issues that affect impede the effective use of ICTs
in architectural schools and why those issues are of significant
interest to researchers.
Sharing Information with ICTs Sharing Learning Environments
The ever-expanding use of new information and communication
technologies in education has made both initial and continuing
professional education more readily available in almost all
disciplines. A quick search of the Internet using one of the
standard search engines in almost any discipline reveals online
offerings from major universities all over the world of courses that
can be applied to such purposes as maintaining professional
licenses. A Google search on today’s date (May 05, 2007), for
example, on the exact phrase, “architecture continuing education,”
produced 436 unsponsored hits, that is, simple links to sites that
have not paid to be prominently displayed. A cursory review of these
sites strongly indicates that most of them offer online courses that
meet the academic and accreditation requirements for contributing to
obtaining or maintaining a license to practice architecture in some
region or jurisdiction. The offerings are from professional graduate
schools at both public and private institutions of higher learning
as well as from commercial, for-profit organizations that have found
a ready market for such courses.
The same search turned up no fewer than 46 “sponsored links,” that
is, paid advertisements from various institutions of professional
continuing education that include architecture in their offerings.
They ranged from New York University’s School of Continuing
Professional Education to an online Guide to Continuing Education,
named simply, “Guide to Continuing Education. ” which appears to be
a community effort by a large number of both public and for-profit
organizations that offer continuing education in a wide variety of
Another source of continuing professional education online appears
to be associations of such professionals themselves. On the very
first page of the May 06, 2007, Google search, this writer observed
a link to the site of the American Institute of Architecture. At
that site can be found numerous offerings of online courses and
courses that can be taken by attending a variety of institutions.
The profession, at least in the United States, appears to be in the
vanguard of offering professional education online.
Drilling down into the links produced by this single search clearly
will reveal hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities for
continuing professional education offered online to students from
all over the world. Clearly, this is a concept that has “caught on.”
Similarly, a review of both graduate and undergraduate course and
library offerings at major universities around the world reveals
that the world of professional education, and many of the
professional educators themselves, have eagerly grasped the
opportunities for sharing knowledge that have grown out of the
Internet. Faculty members post course syllabi on the Internet for
their students to access readily. University libraries, including,
of course, the library at the University of British Columbia, offer
online access to many of their offerings. One or more of the major
commercial search engines has begun a project to digitize a very
large volume of printed material. There seems almost no end to the
drive to digitize information online.
This is not surprising in a way. After all, the Internet itself was
the result of a desire by professional educators and researchers,
most of them employed at universities, first in the United States,
but subsequently, around the world, to share knowledge quickly and
easily. So, we are looking at a phenomenon that is, at the very
least, maturing rapidly both with respect to formal, in-university
training and initial and continuing education of professionals in
almost every conceivable discipline.
Interpreting Technology Uses from Teaching and Learning
This, of course, is but one example of the use of emerging
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in professional
education. Ever more sophisticated ways of sharing information are
constantly under development, knowledge is stored and transmitted
with increasing density, ways of depicting information graphically
are becoming ever more precise, “higher definition,” the developers
call it, and these technologies clearly have applications in such
professional fields as architecture and engineering. The question,
then, is whether those who educate professionals, and their
students, are using these tools to maximum benefit. Again, it should
not be surprising to learn that a large body of studies on the
effective uses of ICTs has grown up. The purpose of this research is
to explore some of the relevant literature in that field with a view
to discovering how effectively new ICTs are being used in
professional education and how they may be used more effectively.
It is entirely possible that the emergence of new information and
communication technologies in the last several decades has had, and
will continue to have, an effect on the attitudes of educators
regarding both the practice of their profession and the substance of
their own particular disciplines (Milliken and Barnes, 2002, p.
234). Becker and Ravitz observed in 1999 that, Teachers’ pedagogical
philosophies and practices are not static.
Despite patterns of teaching that persist across decades…, the
climate in which teachers practice their craft sometimes contains
discourse that encourages or pressures teachers to modify their
teaching styles and even their underlying beliefs about good
teaching. (p. 356).
Cuban (1993) had noted a tendency for teaching practices to endure
for very long times, but others, among them Brooks and Brooks (1993)
have noted a consistent tendency toward discourse that encourages
such practices advocated by Dewey (1916) and Piaget (1952), and,
more recently, Pea (1996). Summarizing these practices, Becker and
Ravitz outline them as follows:
• designing activities around teacher and student interests rather
than in response to an externally mandated curriculum,
• having students engage in collaborative group projects in which
skills are taught and practiced in context rather than sequentially,
• focusing instruction on students’ understanding of complex ideas
rather than on definitions and facts,
• teaching students to self-consciously assess their own
• engaging in learning in front of students rather than presenting
oneself as fully knowledgeable. (p. 356)
These are activities that are compatible with the “constructivist”
theories of education espoused by some of our most innovative and
influential educators. Obviously, both the state and a given
profession have considerable in assuring that certain materials are
covered in a curriculum. No one is arguing that the basics not be
covered in either initial professional education or continuing
professional education in favor of a freewheeling curriculum based
entirely on student and teacher interests alone. That clearly would
be tipping too far in one direction. But within the context of
assuring that necessary facets of the discipline be fully covered,
it should be possible to design courses and entire curricula that
engage the creative energies of both students and teachers in the
It seems obvious that the new information and communication
technologies have an important contribution to make in this respect.
And, a review of both theory and practice in education reveals that
many educators, in a great many disciplines agree. Professional
education is no exception to the trend of incorporating these
technologies in courses both at the professional school and online.
Architectural education poses an interesting challenge: not only is
the discipline being affected by the emerging information and
communication technologies, there remains within the discipline
contention regarding what the objective of architectural education
should be. Some advocate that it should train primarily for
creativity so that buildings become works of art. But another school
advocates that the “nuts and bolts” of the discipline, that is, how
to get a project completed on time and within budget should be the
primary objective (Architectural Education, 2005). The role of ICTs
in architectural education will clearly be developed, and be
influenced, by the interactions between these different schools in
Changing Educational and Professional Standards
Clearly, though, new developments and technologies for sharing
information and communicating with others will change education in
important ways. Abbott (2000) noted as much in the title of his
small volume: ICT: Changing Education. Among the changes he notes
1. that the very definition of “literacy” is being changed to
include an understanding of diverse means of transmitting
2. that geographical separation is ever becoming less important in
the formation of “groups,”
3. that the very purpose of school may be changing as a direct
result of ICT making the home or some other setting the base of
education technology rather than the school, and
4. that computers are changing the ways in which education takes
place by concentrating the focus on interaction between participants
in the process rather than simply on transmission of knowledge (pp.
Abbott goes on to observe that, Links between educational theory and
the use of ICT are made, and the notion of post-geographical
learning is proposed: learning, that is, which takes place through
the online social interaction of groups whose members may not reside
in physical proximity. (p. 2).
Abbott was focusing primarily on literacy training and mostly
concerned with the ways in which ICTs are changing the educational
environment for children and adolescents. But it is clear that such
changes are taking place as well in higher and professional
education as well.
A wealth of material discusses ways in which colleges, universities,
and professional schools can use ICTs in expanding and making more
effective their curricula. Among the researchers who have addressed
such issues are Benenson and Piggot (2002), who noted the value of
technology and a subject for education itself; Carbone (2002), who
advocated a studio-based model for instruction in information
technology (a concept to which professional architecture educators
might well refer); Dirckinck-Holmfeld and Lorentsen (2003), who
explored changes in university teaching practices and perspectives
as a result of incorporation of ICT technologies; Pollalis, Huang,
and Hirschberg (2004), who compared methods and outcomes in two
courses that differed in both purpose and uses of ICTs; and Fallows
and Bahnot (2005) who, together with a group of collaborators,
explored a variety of quality issues in teaching and research at the
This list could be expanded almost indefinitely, because this is a
field that has generated a huge amount of research and very
recently. It seems likely that one reason for this wealth of
research is that the development of ICTs has itself generated a
great deal of just plain wealth. And that wealth is looking for
things to do and for ways to generate ideas to generate even more
wealth in what has become a dominant global industry.
One key, however, to understanding the importance that the new
technologies have assumed in education, is found in this observation
by Fallows and Bahnot in the introduction to their collection of
scholarly works on the subject.
As academics we have come to view ICT as such a basic toolkit that
it is almost impossible for us to envisage how our predecessors
performed their various duties of teaching, assessment and research
without it. But, of course, the previous generations were taught and
did learn without technology - some would even argue that the
teachers were able to get on with their responsibilities with
greater efficiency than their modern counterparts. Education thrived
without everyone having to develop the additional proficiencies that
are deemed essential in the twenty-first century. However, most of
us are not Luddites; we are willing to adapt to changing times even
if not always keen to embrace every element of the new
developments…. (pp. 1-2).
Among the questions they attempt to answer are the following:
• Can the use of ICT-based approaches enhance the quality of
learning and teaching?
• Does the use of ICT-based approaches enhance the quality of
learning and teaching? (Or are we using expensive equipment to
achieve no more than our predecessors did with cheap and dusty chalk
• How does the use of ICT-based approaches enhance the quality of
learning and teaching?
• Are we (as teachers and learners) fully enabled to maximize the
quality of the benefits that can arise from the use of ICT? (p. 2).
Concerned primarily with quality of education in the United Kingdom,
Fallows and Bahnot deal with everything from uses of technology to
enhance the learning experience to ways in which to counter the
proliferation of sources students can draw on from the Internet to
avoid doing their own work. But the conclusions that they and their
contributors reach are several:
• The technologies are here to stay and by and large enhance the
capabilities and educational experiences of both educators and
• Quality will be increasingly important to students, who are coming
to see themselves as much as customers as students.
• Ensuring that online and interactive offerings exhibit quality
will be a continuing challenge for educators, and that meeting it
will be carried out largely under the scrutiny of the customers
(Fallows and Bhanot, 2005).
Barriers to e-Education
For the purposes of the research here, one of the most interesting
articles in the Fallows and Bhanot (eds.) volume is by Gillian
Jordan and Jill Jameson (pp. 61–73). In their article, titled
“Unlocking Key Barriers for Staff on the Path to an e-University,”
they note a near “stampede” to convert course content of all types
for online delivery among universities. In such a rush, quality
obviously becomes an issue, as do the things that prevent individual
faculty members and disciplines from entering the current. They
develop a “key barrier matrix” and identify a number of such
barriers that characterize their university setting. They believe
these to be generalizable, and they are worth noting here.
• Institutional Distractions: Events that are occurring
institution-wide. In their own case, the university itself was
undergoing a major restructuring aside from the application of ICTs.
In their view, the key to unlocking this barrier is to stay focused
on one’s own objective.
• Confused perceptions of leadership and decision-making:
Over-involved strands of management responsibility contribute here.
The key is to simplify and make clear; achieve consensus.
• Skills and staff-development issues: It is necessary to identify
at the beginning the skills needed, the people who have them, or,
lacking them in some respect, to be willing to develop them along
• E-critics, communications, and overload problems: In this category
fall such issues as perceived threats to their futures by some
faculty members arising out of the necessary renegotiations of
pedagogy and authority. Also critical is simply the added workload
of participating in the project. Good communication and committing
sufficient additional staff resources to relieve onerous workloads
is critical to dealing with this issue.
• Quality problems faced by staff: Staff, while working hard, may
very well be tempted into some shortcuts. The key is a simple
commitment to quality and avoidance of such shortcuts. Make rules
about it and be sure to get everyone to sign on to the commitment.
Others have explored the potential of, and the potential for
disruption of the education process, that is inherent in the move to
online curricula. Newman (1994), for example explored some of the
ways in which computer networks can present both opportunity and
obstacles to the educational process. Cuban (1987, 1988, 1993, and
1997) has devoted considerable energy to both the promise and the
perils of new information technologies in the classroom. Overall, he
views their adoption as inevitable, but not without risk. Dale,
Robertson and Shortis (2004) similarly view the adoption of these
technologies in education as inevitable, but offer a number of
cautions and advice on how management policy and pedagogy should
interact at the institutional level to expedite the process.
In one of a series of such works published by Routledge Falmer in
England, Loveless and Ellis (2001) have compiled a volume of
articles on the ever-changing picture of ICTs, pedagogy, and
curricula. Overall, the editors and their contributors argue, the
new technologies will not catalyze radical change in education
merely by their presence. Rather, they see these technologies as
changing education in a continuous process, beginning with efforts
of varying success to fit them into existing models of education and
followed by a period in which the technologies will come to be used
in ways that were not expected by anyone.
The editors were motivated in part by what they viewed as a
disconnect between the ways in which ICTs are being introduced at
the institutional level and the ways in which they are being used by
students, others outside the educational institutions, and even
individual teachers themselves. In their words,
We felt that the introduction of these technologies into classrooms
and schools is having an impact on teaching and learning that does
not necessarily reflect the ways in which children and young people
experience and appropriate the technology in their lives outside
school. Neither is the prophetic claims being made about the role of
ICT in learning being realized in classroom practice as a whole.
There was a shared concern that the nature of teacher training in
new technologies has focused more on skills and techniques. Radical
change requires a deeper understanding of the challenges ICT makes
to ways of knowing curriculum subjects and of the changes it might
bring to the practice of the profession in terms of time, place and
authority. (pp. 1-2).
Interestingly, they argue that the acronym that has become almost a
word in the language (at least the language of professional
educators and computer jockeys), ICT, is problematic. They argue
that the uses for what has come to be described by this term reach
far beyond merely storing and communicating information. In their
view, the scope and uses of these technologies are so widely varied
across users and disciplines that we do ourselves a disservice by
limiting them with this description. Indeed, they argue that the
description itself has too much of an Anglophonic tone and that it
also builds a detrimental image of what constitutes literacy in a
wildly varied world (p. 2).
In a 2000 article in the Journal of Technology and Teacher
Education, Loveless argued that information and communication
technologies are not neutral tools for learning but are instead
“cultural artifact” in the hands of both students and teachers. As
such they are affected by, and themselves affect, the culture in
which they are found. These differences are likely to be profound in
some cases (p. 380), a concept to which we will return when
considering the proposed project in Taiwan.
A number of researchers have addressed the issues of quality in
education and how ICTs can affect it either negatively or
positively. Among the more recent publications that address these
issues are those by Davidson (2003), Davis et al. (1997), and two
major compilations by the United Kingdom Department for Education
and Skills (2002, 2003). The general view expressed in these works
and others like them is that the new technologies hold considerable
promise for enhancing the quality and availability of education in
virtually all areas, but that they cannot simply be grafted onto the
old ways of doing things. They will demand their own accommodations,
but when those are recognized and used to advantage, the advantages
will be manifold.
We can probably already see that a proliferation of unexpected uses
of the technology is indeed the case, since the initial view of the
new information and communication technologies was simply that they
would be a way to transmit and store information more efficiently.
They were not initially seen as vehicles by which the roles of
students and teachers would be dramatically altered. Yet they are
effecting such changes quite often.
Professional education in architecture, of course, is not immune to
the changes, and in many areas schools of architecture has eagerly
jumped on the ICT bandwagon both in their traditional course
offerings and in courses designed to meet the continuing education
needs of professional architects and designers. This enthusiasm is
reflected in a flurry of publications on the subject, both books and
articles in scholarly and professional journals in the field. Whole
conferences have been devoted to the uses of information and
communication technologies in architectural, engineering, and design
Indeed, a review of such conferences reveals not only a number of
conferences, but several separate organizations devoted to the study
of, or advancement of, the use of information and communication
technologies in professional education in architecture. Cheng (1996,
1997, 1998, and 1999) has been particularly prolific in advocating a
stronger role for ICTs in architectural education. Her works have
both described and advocated the use of ICTs in studio-based
instruction and in instruction in graphic design.
Medrazo and Vidal (2002) described an exercise in “concept mapping”
that utilized an ICT-based learning environment characterized by a
specific theoretical framework built up from “theory bits,”
“individual and collaborative exercises,” and “a web system that
provides representation of the collective work.” The subject matter
for their study used five texts on architectural theory and examined
how students treated them in this collaborative environment. Their
conclusion was that the system yielded a pedagogy that could be
extrapolated to most other disciplines. But they offered this
The effectiveness of this learning environment, however, relies on
the equilibrium between technology and pedagogy. Technology must be
subsumed under a pedagogic program, whose ultimate goal is to
develop the capacity of students to think creatively in
collaboration, using information and communication technologies. (p.
Chiu (2002) explored the organizational ramifications of using ICTs
in design education. Holland and de Valasco (1999) explored the
potential for ICTs in building a network of international studies in
engineering, while Kvan et al. (1999) have advocated the use of
computer technologies as a means of improving collaborative study
and work in design. Other studies and presentations advocating the
expanded use of ICTs in professional education, especially as
instruments that encourage collaboration among professionals,
include Mandour (2004), Schon (1987), and McCormick (2004).
A Broad Stream of Innovation and Study
From the above, it can be seen that the stream of study and
application of information and communication technologies in
education, and even specifically in education in architecture,
engineering, design, and related fields is quite broad. A recurring
theme in all the literature on this subject is that these
technologies cannot simply be grafted onto a discipline, an
educational institution, or into a culture without there being
profound effects on all of them. Those effects will also be
reflected in the technologies themselves and the cultures in which
they are found.
Hancock (2002) argues we should take the position that teachers who
are expected to redefine their ideas about teaching and learning
must have opportunities to examine instructional methods in light of
reform recommendations and current information about learning. It
presents a developmental picture of a strategy for creating
“beliefs” about how students learn and who should learn and what is
important to learn, progressing from theoretical underpinnings of
integrating technology with learning and instructional design to the
issues of teacher preparation.
It is a characteristic of studies of ICT in professional education
that they have been conducted in societies that are largely stable
both politically and economically, and that have rich histories of
professional education in just such settings. Taiwan is a society
that is considerably less stable, and while there is a history of
professional education in that society, everything there is done in
the context of a society and an economy that has undergone rapid
change in the last half century.
Until recently, the government of Taiwan
was not formally democratic, for example, though it was certainly
disposed toward alliances and affinity with the western democracies.
That has been in spite of an expressed determination over the
decades by the government of the mainland that the island would one
day be reunited with that of the mainland. Indeed, for most of the
last several decades, and even today, the official position of both
governments has been that there is only one China.
Today, Taiwan is formally a democracy, with multiple political
parties, a formidable domestic economy with strong technological
manufacturing roots, a growing population characterized by both
descendants (and still some survivors) of the retreat of what were
termed the Nationalist Chinese and native Taiwanese, a sense of
separate identity that grows more profound the longer the
separation, substantial earned pride in its accomplishments and
existence, and expressed desires to preserve some of its past for
Taiwan has well-established professional education programs in many
fields, specifically including architecture. Like other professional
education programs, they are in upheaval as well, at least in part
because of the perception that new technologies will inevitably
transform them. Both eagerness to adopt new methods and fear of the
outcomes in adopting them are characteristic of professional
architecture education in Taiwan.
Unlike the other areas in which these changes have been explored by
academics, in Taiwan they are taking place in a setting of rapid
cultural and political change. It seems reasonable that the
surrounding changes will also affect how these institutional and
pedagogical changes occur. Will professional educators in Taiwan,
specifically professional educators in architecture, embrace the
changes and challenges attendant with the new ICTs, even while they
are managing the professional and institutional changes that are
occurring around them? The future research for studying acceptance
and use of ICTs in architectural education in Taiwan should shed
some light on how effective such technologies can be as they are
adopted in a world of change.
The choice to use information and communication technologies (ICTs)
for curriculum construction has both a conceptual and a utilitarian
rationale. As emerging information and communication technologies
expand the dimensions of the classroom, demands that education
professionals be familiar with not only their potential but their
application increase as well. Because what is required of an
individual to be technologically literate is something of a moving
target, creating the curriculum in a constantly changing digital
environment constitutes the kind of ongoing learning process
encouraged by constructivist pedagogy. As Dewey (1916) interprets
living as having its own intrinsic quality and education should be
kept up to that quality of learning and teaching. Providing quality
education should be the ultimate target of educators. W e shall be
very active of seeking quality instruction of ICTs to pay us the
Dewey (1956) views curriculum studies as something fluid, embryonic
and vital. Therefore, the objective of the individual belief of
school education must be consistent with that of the business world
and the world of information and communication technologies industry
in terms of human resources management and collaboration, which will
have to be the vital catalyst for a flexible labor relation and the
vertical integration. To control the steer of the economic
development, integrated academic and practice accumulation plus high
quality human resource are also required. In fact, when approached
with its track of progress confront modern education, the
development of the school education matches perfect with the social
change. Life is a series of situations (Dewey, 1938, p.43). Within
the conceptual framework of life learning, I believe that the
general public shall develop the idea of always learning as long as
one lives. The idea of the school education itself is the very life
teaching material of life learning.
Finally, the researcher firmly believes that the school education in
future plays the same important role as the upgraded industry does.
Future school reform by encouraging free enquiry, critical thinking
which results in creativity, imagination and innovation, this should
be within the framework of rethinking and creating a critical
pedagogy for the information and communication technologies age. To
that end, this above augments provides varied opinions on the issue
of assessing the impact of educational technology on the learning
environment and how to rethink in teaching about how ICTs learning
environments can provides the insight necessary for individuals to
formulate the appropriate questions for themselves.
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