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AASA Digital Learning Research Grant 2022  Activity Report is available!

Digital Urban Lab - Experiential and Integrated Learning Environments Teaching Urban Design Studio at Curtin University

Thursday, 7 April 2022

The AASA is pleased to announce that the 2022 Digital Learning Research Grant winner, Associate Professor Francesco Mancini, has completed the research project, "Digital Urban Lab - Experiential and Integrated Learning Environments Teaching Urban Design Studio at Curtin University" in early 2022. The project was supported by Dr Tanja Glusac.   

You can find a copy of the report here

Congratulations to Francesco and Tanja for completing the project!

Dr Anastasia Globa is the winner of 2022 AASA DLRG.

Monday, 21 February 2022

The AASA is pleased to announce that the 2022 Digital Learning Research Grant (DLRG) winner is Dr Anastasia Globa, lecturer in Computational Design and Advanced Manufacturing at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, The University of Sydney. The grant, which is in its third iteration (the grant was suspended in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic), had received a total of six outstanding submissions from the architecture education community .  Submissions include:

- Patrick Macasaet, "Open World Architecture: Worlds, Games and Ideas"

-Kate Finning & Guillermo Fernández-Abascal, "Five Good Swiss Plans"

- Iain Maxwell, "Prototyping Space: Exploring the Role of Augmented-Reality (AR) Technologies in the Development of Innovative Digital and Construction Technology Teaching"

-Guillermo Fernandez-Abascal, "Student Housing: Making Buildings to Live Together – International Guest Lecture Series Focusing on Student Housing"

-Ruwan Fernando, "Architecture Education in Virtual Reality", and

-Anastasia Globa, "Hybrid Model for Tutorial Engagement: Improving Engagement in Online Architecture Tutorials"

The 2022 DLRG was assessed by five jury members. These include:

  • Dr John Doyle - 2022 DLRG Chair, AASA President & Program Manager, Master of Architecture, RMIT University

  • Mr Steven Feast – AASA Online Learning Portfolio Leader and Digital Learning Officer, Architecture and Interior Architecture, School of Design and the Built Environment, Curtin University

  • Ms Jolanda De Villiers Morkel - Head: Instructional Design, Stadio Higher Education, South Africa

  • Dr Douglas MacLeod, Chair RAIC Centre for Architecture, Athabasca University Canada

  • Dr Rong Rong Yu, Winner of 2019 DLRG and Senior Lecturer (Architecture), University of South Australia

Dr Globa's winning proposal, Hybrid Model for Tutorial Engagement: Improving Engagement in Online Architecture Tutorials, looks at improving engagement in online tutorials by developing a hybrid model that could help enhance student learning experiences. The proposal responds to the student survey conducted by the University of Sydney in 2020 – 2021. The survey showed that online students often struggle to achieve key learning outcomes and receive lower marks than their on-campus peers. This finding demonstrates that students are less engaged in learning in an online environment and identified that the issue is specifically related to the ability to deliver a sense of physical experience to students studying online.

In addressing the issue, Dr Globa's proposal will encompass four key aspects:

  1. Leveraging from rapidly advancing virtual reality technology

  2. Integrating the fundamental principles of gamification

  3. Incorporating experiential learning into the learning process

  4. time proportion model.


The substantial shift to online learning has been an ongoing challenge in architecture education in the last two years. The experience of online learning is vastly different from attending classes in a real, physical space. As pointed out by the Chair of 2022 DLRG and AASA President John Doyle: "The background of the proposal is relevant and quite interesting - specifically the identified shortcomings in online education and the potential for expanded ranges of experiences to address this."

Dr Rong Rong Yu also shares a similar view: "This project proposes a hybrid model for improving student engagement in online architectural tutorials, by adopting a method of leveraging rapidly advancing VR technology and principles of gamification and physical, experiential learning into the teaching process. The research aim is clear, and the topic is significant for furthering the development of online teaching within architecture."


Most importantly, the study addresses one of the challenges of online learning we all face in architecture design studios. As Jolanda De Villiers Morkel said, "This proposal responds to a real challenge in the current architectural design studio globally, namely the need for the online tutorial to move beyond the covid-induced 'zoom' space, to address the need for physical and embodied learning. Both the practical and theoretical problems are clearly articulated, and the work draws on relevant educational theory, namely Blooms (revised) taxonomy, and Kolb's experiential learning cycle."

Furthermore, "The project comprises a novel combination of VR, gamification, and experiential learning to improve engagement in online tutorials/ crits. The level at which this experimental and experiential intervention is proposed is appropriate, and the unit in which it will be situated is realistic. The timeframe is ambitious but realisable with careful planning. The budget is detailed and convincing, and the allowance for access to all students (also those online) are commendable." 

The project will commence shortly. It is anticipated that the presentation of the report will be presented by Dr Globa at the AASA Annual General Meeting in Perth this October.

Congratulations to Dr Globa on winning the 2022 AASA Digital Learning Research Grant! We look forward to seeing the result!

Acknowledgement: A big thank you to Dr Douglas MacLeod, Ms Jolanda Morkel, Dr Rong Rong Yu, Mr Steven Feast and Dr John Doyle for contributing their time and expertise to the assessment of the 2022 AASA DRLG!   Also, our sincere thanks to the six applicants!   

Associate Professor Francesco Mancini wins AASA Digital Learning Research Grant 2020!

Monday, May 4, 2020

The AASA has received a total of five high-quality proposals from members for 2020 Digital Learning Research Grant. We are pleased to announce the winner is…

“Digital Urban Lab” by Associate Professor Francesco Mancini, School of Design and the Built Environment, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University.

This research project builds on a collaborative design process in line with the implementation of the Design State Review Panel in Western Australia and partnership with Hassell and collaboration with Element, COX, the OGA WA and the Department of Planning Lands and Heritage. This pedagogic project was successfully tested in the Master of Architecture in 2019 at Curtin University.

Project rationale:

Digital technology played an important role in the previous face-to-face edition of Urban Design Research Studio and Methods units. With this in mind, in response to an innovative approach to Blended Design Studio, we propose to transfer this model on a blended platform and invite interstate students and academics to remotely participate in these units through distributed studio sessions and multidisciplinary design review panels.

Collaboration and experiential learning in a blended environment are the key concepts underpinning this L&T project. The aim is to facilitate learning through discovery in an augmented learning environment that simulates emerging future practices.

Team members will operate like an international office based in multiple locations, with the headquarter located in Perth, nearby the site. Collaboration with individual responsibility is at the base of teamwork. Roles, leadership, research, and design activities will be captured and documented through the WEBEX TEAMS platform, which will record processes and contributions throughout the project.

Collaboration is also key to the design review panel framework. Students and guest critics from Industry and Academia will refine the projects before the official submission constructively.

Juror #1 comment:

“[The project aims] to deliver an online course to multiple stakeholders from all over the country and utilise digital tools as part of the design process. The course delivery through utilising various online tools and methods, each unique in its own way to support a specific aspect of the studio, is very relevant considering the current COVID-19 situation. Today, many schools have transitioned to online learning and, therefore, can benefit from the logistics being used in delivering the proposed course.”

“Opening the studio to students from any academic institution in Australia provides a significant opportunity for collaborative work.”

Juror #2 comment:

“This project promises to make a meaningful contribution to the scholarship of learning and teaching by promoting collaborative, experiential and discovery learning pedagogy in blended and online learning of architecture and urban design. As a result of the educational prominence of group work and collaboration, urban design is a challenging subject area to learn and teach online. Through this project, a blended and online methodology that engages inter-school team members based in multiple interstate locations, in remote studios and multidisciplinary design reviews will be developed to simulate emerging practices in the industry – like an international office. “

“Innovative use of digital technologies both for online and remote collaboration (WEBEX TEAMS, SOLSTICE, EPINUP and BLACKBOARD) as well as digital production (ARCGIS, Space Syntax, and Rhino/ Grasshopper) will be employed in this project. The expected impact is very high, considering that it involves academia, industry and government sectors. Furthermore, it engages academics and students from various participating Australian Schools of Architecture, guest critics from industry and academia (not limited by proximity). It means that the blended and cloud-based methodology of a remote and distributed studio and reviews can be developed through inputs by a range of participants (including academia, industry and government) who may, in turn, implement it in their own respective contexts. This project paves the way for possible future collaboration between schools of architecture, to optimise resources, share expertise, and to achieve authentic learning student experiences.”

Congratulations to Associate Professor Francesco Mancini and his team on winning the AASA Digital Learning Research Grant 2020!

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