This issue of
Magazine is sponsored by
Steffian Bradley Architects.
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Practice : Spring 2012
a nd bet ween semesters via online discussion forums, socia l net works, Skype and phone calls, and email exchanges. A supportive group dynamic develops that enhance s col laborative lea rning and student commit- ment. Evidenc e of students’ c ommitment to each other and to the BAC was provided at the BAC’s recent commenc ement ceremonies in May 2010, when 14 of 18 graduates , most with severa l family members , traveled from all across the U.S. to Boston to attend commencement. In the program’s first five years, enroll- ment has grown from a n initial cohort of 13 students representing four state s to a total current Spring 2012 enrollment of over 40 students representing 21 state s a nd two foreign countries . Since its inception the progra m has enrolled students from 38 states plus Canada, Germany and Japan, with a total of 73 graduates as of January 2012. The typical student is a graduate of an under- graduate pre -profession al or technical architecture program and has worked in an a rchitecture firm on average for about six years. Students work in firms that range in size from very small to large firms with national and international practices . A few a re principal s in their firms. Students’ a ge s range from the mid-20’s to over 60, with the average in their mid-30’s. About 40% a re women. The majority of students are married and ma ny have families. The faculty in the Distance M.Arch are, in the BAC tradition, primarily full-time professionals who balance teaching with practice. Fac ulty members a re required to ma ke a week-long commitment twice per year to participate in Intensive s, thus most live within commuting dista nc e of Boston. We expect a high degree of comfort with digital technologies and a willingness to adapt teaching methods and syllabi to an e ver- evolving blend of web-ba sed online tools including blog s, graphics-friendly socia l networks. The BAC’s learning management s ystem (initially Angel, now Moodle) is a basic te aching requirement. The blend of tools and their implementation changes a lmost yearly, reflecting the changing landscape of the digital realm. Online training and tutorials on digital tools are updated each s emester. Students who flourish in the program tend to be mature, highly motivated, se lf-disciplined and sufficiently experienc ed to b e preparing for leadership role s in the next phase of their careers. Thus, assessing indicators of these qualities in prospective students is an ongoing goal. We have a l so found that the most suc ce ssf ul students receive strong support from their firms, support which may range from tuition reimbursement or time off for intensive s, to opportunities for in-house presentations to c o-workers by students of their BAC projects. The BAC’s Distance M.Arch is increasing efforts to de velop and expand geographic diversity, including to internationa l markets. Also being explored is the option to provide for applica nts with more divers e educ ationa l a nd practice backgrounds opportunities to qualify for the program. The BAC has a dapted to diminished traditiona l employ- ment opportunities by developing alternative practice options for unemployed st ud ents, including design competition s in mock-firm scenarios. These altern ative practice options emulate traditional employment dynamics and responsibilities. Online instruction presents challenges in education and in design educ ation in particular. Our technology platform has e volved to fa cilitate graphic information transfers. Dema nds on online faculty tend to e xcee d those placed on onsite fac ulty a s students receive greater a synchronous c ommunication a nd feedb ack on their work. Skeptics have asked, how can a design studio be taught online? Where’s the studio culture in cyberspace? The direct a nswer is that profes sional de sign practice ha s moved incre a singly into virtual, c ol laborative cyberspaces networked by online digital tools . For students with some experienc e in this area, learning online emulates what is encountered on a da ily basis in practice. The succ es sf ul application of online technologies in design education in the Distance M.Arch program at the B oston Architectura l College provides strong evidence that distance learning offers the promise of a uniquely powerful le arning experience well-su ited to globally-connected practice. Students tour dur ing Intensi ve Kayla Bubar, M.D.S . Sustainable Design and Pat Cornelison, Arrowstreet PRACTICE 10 NEWSWORTHY ] AN UPDATE ON THE DISTANCE M. ARCH. PROGRAM