Level 3 learning strategy

Progress to level 3 was well founded now in deeper and broader learning established in the previous two years. The essence of CAAD teaching to Level 3 built on and developed this teaching, emphasising the full potential of each tool, (in order to encourage innovative use), creative opportunities arising from creation, modification, programming and clustering library objects, the conceptual notion of potential structures in the 3D CAAD model and the analytical and futuristic idea generation possible through the switchable layers.

Learning was driven in the first semester by the new design project envisaged by the architectural studio design tutor and supported by the CAAD teaching team. The next section describes Gary Brown's "Interstitial Layers" urban analysis project and how CAAD was essential to its success.

Layers were an essential vehicle to storing data of the present patterns of activities. The "sieve map" notion of plotting data on a set of transparent overlaid sheets becomes cumbersome, when dealing with large amounts of data, which overlap locationally. Layers in principle are more manageable, since unique names can be attributed, colours can also be selected and layers can be switched to show or hide at will in any combination or isolation. Analysis therefore is particularly well supported, even though ArchiCAD was not designed for such urban analysis. The visibility of the CAAD medium, in which extensive combinations can be viewed in endless permutations to highlight, superimpose and generate 2D and 3D pattern potentials was a vital aspect of the process.

The advantage of well managed, organised, coordinated use of layers was explained as a facilitator for spatial analysis, which meant unique consideration of sets of complex abstracted patterns of activity, fabric and space development over time. Teaching was very task specific also supporting both programming and direct model building methods for library object creation and manipulation and demonstrating how complex library objects might be clustered for conceptual representation. Subsequent reference to student take up of ideas for experimentation with rotation, displacement and repetition commands should indicate culmination in extraordinary, innovative 3D proposed complexities as responses to the brief.

Considerable effort is expended in attempting to deliver LJMU equal opportunity principles in CAAD learning, for all students in all years of the architectural courses. In short, although also striving to encourage the highest possible standards, this policy appears to have differed from many schools. An important objective was thus to diminish differential in performance and confidence between students. This was partly pursued through group supported shared learning activity, growing towards essential individual activity, by the gradual passing of responsibility to the less confident, with team encouragement. So, students were encouraged to act in a mutually supportive manner towards a resultant narrowing of the gap in CAAD capability.

Learning in the second semester was delivered through design and CAAD tutorials, simultaneously led by the CAAD research student, (Jon Moorhouse) who is a qualified architect. These two characteristics were seen to be of significant relevance for final year CAAD learning and application. This enabled reference to precedents drawn from research into alternative approaches to creative designing with computers by practising architects. The intermediate project involved development of a group urban strategy and manifesto as a basis for the concluding, individual Comprehensive Design Projects. The whole thrust of Level 3 CAAD was to example, encourage and support, structured, developmental innovative, creative design for the design projects. The search continues, to identify which approaches best assist architectural students, still based on integrating their CAAD learning within projects. However what could be better than the research records of video snippets illustrating how practitioners design with CAAD. Certainly students value evidenced CAAD activity by such professional peers, more highly than the same activity explained and demonstrated in teaching where such peer verification is not present.

The achievement of learning outcomes including the extent of expansion of creative use of computers is explored in the following pages, including the "resultant learning" section.

Incremental reflective learning and innovative practice in Electronic Design Media