Teaching Mikroakademie

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About

The MIKROAKADEMIE is a peer-learning format focusing on students’ media literacy. It was developed to test new teaching methods in urban design, cartography and presentation techniques. It consists of approximately 3-4 workshops or seminars each semester, where students offer and visit different classes that reach beyond scopes of standard teaching discourses. They pass on and co-develop their knowledge of communication and representation techniques during the various stages of planning such as: photography, watercolour, video, remote sensing, special use of cartography/GIS etc.
The concept arose during the project “Innovation in Teaching: Teaching and Learning as a Counter-Current Process” which was funded by Stifterverband’s “Fellowship for Innovation in University Teaching”. At the centre of this experiment lied the testing of multiple ideas for (timely-compatible) teaching of methods, tools, skills and techniques for representation and communication of planning-information and urban design.

Concept & Background

City planners are increasingly expected to be able to comprehensively communicate their ideas both verbally und visually. The growing demand on communication skills on various levels stems from the need to reduce obstacles facing the design and implementation processes through inclusion of the different actors. Due to the advancing digitalisation there is also an increase in the number of technologies and applications, as well as in the speed at which they are being re-developed/-invented. This is true of the area of analysis (GIS, mapping, crowd-sourcing, real-time-data analysis etc.), representation (hand-drawing, CAD, 3D, graphic design, model-making, interactive modelling etc.), as well as preparation of content (printed media, web 2.0, social networks, mobile internet, etc.). However, concepts about how academia will/should/could evolve along these processes remain relatively under-investigated.
The “Against-the-current Process” (peer-to-peer) contributes to shaping students’ understanding of teaching as a progressive, interactive and recurring process, where one learns “from each other” i.e. “student-to-student”. During the preparation of their seminars students are supported by our teaching staff. In the foreground is the encouragement and dissemination of autonomous, life-long learning; an “orientational” knowledge that enables navigation through the many possibilities to analyse, represent and convey content.
The challenge is not only to teach and pass on (fundamental) theoretical and practical knowledge, but equally to encourage students to study (explore) autonomously through creative use of available resources.

Perspectives

The MIKROAKADEMIE has become an established concept and accredited teaching form at TU Berlin. Hundreds of students have the opportunity to participate in elective or core seminars as “learners” and/or “teachers”, thanks to changed examination regulations at the BA and MA Urban and Regional Planning at ISR, as well as in the interdisciplinary MA Urban Design (IfA, ISR, ILAUP, IfS). The courses are constantly monitored and evaluated by means of questionnaires, and results documented and referenced for the on-going development of the format. In the future, the space for MIKRO-Courses will be broadened and the transferability/customization of the idea to other areas of studies and their specific requirements ought to be tested.

SS 2017

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