The Bridging DOCS is an innovative project because it brings an extremely positive side of online education, the incredible diversity of perspectives, to on-campus classrooms. We believe that this international contact will enrich the debate and production on the on-campus course Methodology for Urbanism. Studies have shown the importance of having a more diverse perspective on planning education (Frank et al., 2014). We want to bring the active discussions of the MOOC to on-campus courses, include the master students on the online discussion forums and increase the exposure of their assignments.
Additionally, the project innovates because the platform connects the students in Delft directly to practitioners following the online course, as the results of the Rethink the City MOOC have shown (more than 40% of the participants of the MOOC were working professionals). According to Ratnayake and Butt (2017), the gap between theory and practice is one of the biggest challenges in planning education and this is directly challenged in the Bridging DOCS project.
The analysis of the results from the pilot project will indicate how much interaction was promoted by on-campus students and also how many comments they received from this global audience. The project will also be evaluated by the master students, to understand how they experienced this interaction with online students. Additionally, based on this pilot project we will be able to adapt the and integrate the Bridging DOCS platform to another master courses of the faculty. We aim that after the lessons learned from the first year of the Bridging DOCS financed by the Comenius Teaching Fellow, we will be ready to take the platform to a second master course of the faculty. The final result at the end of the Bridging DOCS project is a single platform that could be used to integrate the work of online and on-campus students from different courses of the faculty.
After the end of the Bridging DOCS project, the platform can serve as a reference for other TU Delft faculties that would like to have a higher interaction between their students and a global audience. The platform has a higher potential to succeed in courses that can benefit from a diverse range of perspectives. Two seminars after the run of the pilot and its analysis can help to disseminate this tool to other courses.
Activities, Methods, Planning and Project Evaluation
The project aims to integrate on-campus courses with online courses and promote an international perspective in on-campus master courses. This would be achieved by combining different tools that foster interaction between the on-campus students and participants from online courses in one platform. The idea behind it is to give the opportunity for master students to gain a diverse international perspective while connecting with a global audience of professionals and students that take part on the several TU Delft MOOCS. As aforementioned, this will be done initially bridging the Methodology for Urbanism course and the Rethink the City MOOC. The two courses will run in parallel, which offers the opportunity to generate simultaneous activities with the 2 groups. The Bridging DOCS platform will host a set of tools that will make this interaction possible. We are planning to have 4 main tools for interaction based on the Bridging DOCS platform.
First of all, through the platform master students will have access to the forum discussion in the MOOC, which is one the main sources of knowledge creation of the online course. Massive online courses rely heavily on this collective knowledge creation via the course forum. Since it is impossible to personally reply all the thousands of participants, the forum is designed and managed by the course team in a way that the participants exchange information to support each other. It is a platform to share research interests, provoking thoughts, possible literature and to clarify practical issues. Master students can benefit from this material and during the Methodology for Urbanism there will be at least one exercise where the students will have to use the forum as a source of knowledge. This is aimed for the students to learn how to use the platform and have it as a possible knowledge tool during the course.
The second tool is Sketchtdrive (http://sketchdrive.com), an online tool already successfully used in the two editions of the Rethink the City MOOC to show the visual work of the participants and for them to get feedback from teachers and other participants. It works in a similar way as other social media (Instagram), in which participants upload their visual assignments and receive comments by colleagues and instructors. This tool will also be present in the Bridging DOCS platform and the master students will publish their visual work there and get feedback from their peers in the MOOC. This is an important way to receive a diverse range of feedback and critiques, which a regular classroom is not able to offer.
The third tool is WebEX (https://www.webex.com/products/teams/index.html). The Extension School of TU Delft has been working closely on the application of WebEx on its education. WebEX is an interactive tool where on-campus courses can be streamed online as a videoconference. Additionally, WebEx offer the possibility of the online participants to interact with questions and comments to the lecturer and their on-campus peers. WebEx will make possible for online students to have a direct participation on some sessions of the Methodology for Urbanism course. Online participants will be able to add their remarks, make questions and bring a critical and international standpoint for the classroom. It is important to clarify that due to technical limitations, the participation of online students in the WebEx session will be limited to 30 participants per session. The Bridging DOCS project will receive technical support from the TU Delft Extension School to implement this tool.
The fourth tool is an online game. The game will be developed in cooperation with our colleagues of the Game Lab (https://seriousgaming.tudelft.nl) from the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. This tool will put together campus and online students in a role-playing game where both groups will interact and learn from each other in a fun and stimulating manner. This game is in fact low-tech and is based on interactions and conversations between TU Delft students and the participants of the MOOC, with potentially very interesting results.
The Bridging DOCS will host all these four tools. They will be used in different session of the Methodology for Urbanism course, where the master students will receive support from the project team. Promoting this stronger interaction between the master students and the MOOC participants will generate the possibility of bringing a more critical and international perspective to our campus education[RR1] . The master students will benefit from this interaction not only by developing a more critical and international understanding of the problems addressed in the course, but also by exposing their work to a larger audience.