This quarter, one of BC’s Interior Design studio classes is being piloted as a hybrid course, raising concerns among students.
According to The Inter Design program Chair Dan Beert, “The main student concern relates to hybrid – or blended – studio instruction that we are piloting in one course this quarter. Studio instruction is characterized in our program by 3 ½ hour, twice-weekly class sessions that are highly interactive learning environments and rough approximations of professional design practice.”
Students are concerned about lacking face-to-face personal time with the instructor. As a hybrid class, students would prepare and research outside of class, then come into the studio to work “with activities that involve group discussion, individual and group critiques, professionally-qualified instructors and visiting critics, and a chance for students to learn from each other,” said Beert.
Students are not against hybrid classes in general, but are opposed to losing face-to-face time in studio classes. “I’ve taken some very successful [hybrid classes] from great teachers, it’s just that this is the type of class where that collaborative effort is what makes it a success,” said BC student Timothy Brewer.
Unlike other four-year colleges and universities where the majority of students live on campus, BC’s students all travel to get to class.
“I am a wholehearted supporter of the culture that’s developed through studio instruction, as are all of our faculty,” said Beert. “If we were a traditional four-year school, students lived on campus, and we had studio space where students could work 24/7, we wouldn’t be exploring any changes to studio instruction. But we are acknowledging the unique context of design education on this campus, with the opportunities and constraints presented to us.”
However, less hours working in a collaborative environment is what concerns the students.
“The experience you get at a college is when you rub shoulders with people, you collaborate with people, you meet people, it’s this whole face to face thing at the brick and mortar level that people go after,” said Brewer. “You come to class one day a week and you spend roughly about ten minutes with an instructor and that’s all the face time you get with that instructor. He’s got so many students and he’s got so little time he’s got to make his way around the classroom and then class is over and so we feel that’s not enough.”
Piloting this program does not represent a shift in the way that the Interior Design program plans to deliver classes in the future. “A decision was made by a single instructor this quarter to offer a hybrid studio course, and the department is moving forward with and supporting this pilot,” said Beert.
Students and faculty have met and there is a lot of dialog involving the change from present and past interior design students. “I still have confidence in our leadership and the chair of the program and the administration,” said Brewer. “I’m still confident that they’re going to see at some point that we’re right, the students value this, we’re passionate about it and there’s a reason that we value it and are passionate, it’s because it works for us, the social face to face component in this type of a class is what makes it successful.”
“I admire and respect the students who’ve brought their concerns to our attention,” said Beert. “They care deeply about the program that nurtured them, and want assurance that future students aren’t deprived of the experiences and opportunities that have helped them achieve their personal goals.”