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Breaking The Box: A Necessity For Interactive On Line Collaborative Teaching

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Teaching Innovation in Arch Engineering II

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.284.1 - 11.284.11



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Paper Authors


Erich Connell East Carolina University

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Erich Connell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Construction Management at East Carolina University. He is an Architect and has over 10 years of teaching and professional experience in the field.

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David Batie East Carolina University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Breaking the Box: A Necessity for Interactive On-Line Collaborative Teaching


When undertaking a project in which there is no precedent, it may be necessary to go outside the normal boundaries of conventional thinking and functioning, that is “breaking the box”. This was the case for the interdisciplinary online course concerning the interactions of the professional fields involved in the building enterprise. The course was named “Issues of the Built Environment”, an umbrella title created for the disciplines of Architecture, Construction, Interior and Industrial Design, Landscape and Urban Planning.

Importance of collaborations - The principal motivation for organizing a collaborative online course was to teach the importance of cooperative and respectful relations among all professionals in completing a successful work of construction. High quality building projects require the concerted effort of all professional disciplines. The interdependence of disciplines from the professions of the built environment is not readily found in the academy. Exposing students to the ideas from the various professions and requiring them to work together with students from other disciplines was a first step in trying to mediate that disparity.

Selecting the faculty to teach the course was of the highest importance. Faculty were expected to have a respectful attitude towards the other disciplines to participate in the collaborative teaching course. If faculty were consistent with the course intentions their actions would model the behavior we sought in students. The multiple disciplines from the built environment are found at many university campuses, however interdisciplinary team-teaching was not the common place experience of the faculty participating in this course. None had participated or witnessed more than three disciplines teaching simultaneously. When interdisciplinary teaching occurs, one discipline usually serves in the primary role and others in secondary or consultant roles. Interdisciplinary teaching is typically instigated and supported by individual efforts rather than institutional. This course was an explicit attempt to confront stereotypes of value that develop from the hierarchical attitudes found in isolated academic environments. Teaching in a team collaborative format allowed faculty to demonstrate the importance of parity among the disciplines from the built environment. The team collaborative teaching format was accomplished with an online faculty. The internet technology removed the physical boundaries of distance and brought together individuals who were philosophically aligned in their attitudes about the professions from the built environment.

Why (did we break the box?)

Proximity to practice - Every building endeavor requires the interaction of many disciplines. The architect, engineer, construction manager, city officials, investors all

Connell, E., & Batie, D. (2006, June), Breaking The Box: A Necessity For Interactive On Line Collaborative Teaching Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--946

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