We are facing an immediate need to educate more people in geodesign while important changes are occurring in the ways we teach and practice. Of paramount importance is the need to be prepared to enable collaborative and individual teaching and practice among people who are remotely connected via the internet. We in IGC are dispersed teams, at 157 universities in 51 countries, and IGC workshops will make it easier to collaborate among teams on regional and global studies. Geodesign workshops will be organized around this premise. IGC membership is encouraged but is not a condition of participation in any workshops.
Geodesignhub Workshops: June 2020
Geodesign will be an important tool in preparing the world to respond to this and future pandemics—disease spread and control are inherently spatial, shaped by connectivity, density and carrying-capacity.
In June 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic has forced academic teaching to move online, and the situation is likely to stay unchanged for a substantial time period in the short-medium term. The issue is particularly challenging for design classes and studio activities, where traditional personal interaction is normally of utmost relevance. In order to address this urgent global challenge, the International Geodesign Collaboration launched an experimental teaching initiative to test fully online geodesign studios.
Three workshops, coordinated by Carl Steinitz, Michele Campagna, and Hrishi Ballal and using Geodesignhub software were run in June 2020 involving about 90 experienced and early career academic educators from 5 continents. The workshops were proven successful in addressing the studio teaching challenge and many of the attendees declared they will be using the workflow experienced in the workshop in their future teaching. The initiative represents a novel experimental teaching approach which was tested, adjusted and fine tuned according to the contextual working conditions during the event.
The focii of the workshops were geodesign change-synthesis via collaborative negotiation, and its dynamic impacts, costs assessment and updating. They considered synthesis to reconcile the sometimes-conflicting ideas for the region of Cagliari, Italy, which have been proposed in past studies. We also considered innovations which are considered likely by 2050. We undertook a simulated negotiation process to explore developing a consensus towards these alternative futures. Each workshop comprised a two-hour orientation and preparation session and, one week later, a four-hour geodesign session.
Geodesignhub (www.geodesignhub.com) was used for this workshop. The software has been built by Hrishi Ballal and has been used more than 100 times for early studies of contentious areas undergoing pressures for significant change. It is designed to foster collaboration and negotiation among professionals and their clients, and among teams of professionals, especially during the early, strategic stages of design. It has a simple user interface and there is extensive training and support material. It is compatible with your existing software and data for both its inputs and outputs, and it enables users to collaborate in person and/or over the internet in real time to produce designs and assess them.
There were some important differences between these and face-to-face workshops to which we all had to adjust:
--Getting help is slower and harder. Work is best done in small teams containing at least one more experienced person.
--Breaking up the prior 8 hour day workshop schedule into two meetings and brief homework” was a big advantage.
--The negotiation phase was made difficult when each person had only one active screen (and this is not the case when a group can work together in one location). A solution is to set up two displays driven by two different web connections showing the alternatives. Other alternatives are to have two computers or two displays on a very large monitor. It is important that all the team coordinators have this capability for the negotiation phase in the second half of the workshop.
--It is a challenge that if one person or team had a need, that held up ALL the work by all other people or teams
--People can “disappear” from the zoom session, and there is no way to find them.
--People, and especially workshop leaders, could not call “Time out” easily if a general issue arose that needed to be shared with all...and all are in individual team breakout "rooms".
--The workshop project MUST have a firm workflow and a VERY FIRM time schedule ruthlessly applied. Eventually, people understand that this is needed and a benefit, especially in an iterative negotiated method.