July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
A studio class combines the advantages of active learning, projects, and groupwork: Students in a studio course generally learn in a co-working space with instructors acting as consultants and coaches. However, the conditions of a global pandemic are not conducive to a traditional studio which relies on social closeness. In this paper, we will describe 4 examples of a virtual studio course, each of which translated a studio model to an online format. We will compare and contrast the class populations, course learning goals, and the chosen implementation, and will draw a synthesis through contrast.
The first example is a mid-sized (~90 students) first-year engineering course on modeling and simulation. Students work in pairs to complete three two-week projects set in different physical domains, coded in MATLAB. Project work alternates with modules in which students complete worksheets that develop the concepts and skills that are needed for the projects. Delivering the course remotely required translating several distinct types of studio interactions into a virtual format, including groupwork at “tables” of 4-5 students, full-studio discussions, “open studio” project work (including remote pair programming), project “check-in” meetings with instructors, just-in-time consultations with instructors and course assistants, project presentations, and peer feedback. Each of these interaction types was refined during the semester in response to student feedback; the teaching team also took advantage of new capabilities in our communication platform (Zoom) that became available during the semester, such as the ability for students to move freely between breakout rooms.
The second example is a mid-sized (~90 students), freshman-through-sophomore three-course sequence that integrates linear algebra, multivariable calculus, differential equations, and mechanics with engineering projects. In a series of themed modules, students work in groups to learn new mathematical and engineering concepts which culminate in a project. Pairs of students work on the final projects for each module with the goal of integrating the knowledge they have gained, learning the skills that it takes to translate theory to application, and contextualizing their work in important engineering challenges (e.g., facial recognition). Delivering the course remotely required finding structures to allow students to collaborate on solving math (e.g., writing equations, annotating graphs, drawing diagrams) and programming (e.g., exercises in MATLAB) problems and providing structures for instructors to provide remote assistance. The typically hands-on projects in the course had to be adapted to the online format through the use of techniques such as computer simulation (e.g., of robots) or rapid prototyping (e.g., 3d-printing of small boats).
The third example is a small (~30 students) upper-division course on data science. This was a flipped course, with content introduced through take-home exercises and reinforced through open-ended data “challenges.” Students were assigned to permanent teams (4-6 students) both to encourage peer learning, and to encourage socialization to counter feelings of loneliness during the shelter-in-place of 2020. The course was conducted on a multimedia chat platform (Discord) to promote ad hoc interactions between students and to facilitate small-group interactions.
The fourth example is a small (~25 students) introductory course to computing in Python. Previous iterations of the course heavily utilized “open studio time”, in which students would tackle exercises and projects in a small group (2-4). Despite improvements to the course meeting platform (Zoom) in which more in-person-like features are available, the overhead was sufficient to warrant a change in the class meeting format. Students in the course now switch between completing short exercises on their own machines (sometimes in collaboration with a few other students) and discussing their solutions as a class while the instructor writes and critiques student solutions in real time.
Del Rosario, Z. R., & Aggarwal, R., & Coffey, C. A., & Sadler, A., & Matsumoto, S., & Wood , A., & Ruvolo, P., & Woodard, C. J. (2021, July), Crafting a Virtual Studio: Some Models and Implementations Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36864
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