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Anthony Fuchs, Jaap Klaarenbeek, Jasper Moelker
Urban Detectives
Delft, The Netherlands

Driven by a personal conviction on the importance of new educational models and stimulated by
dissatisfactory personal experience three students of Delft University of Technology launched a
workshop series investigating the strategic potential of workshops for educational purposes. The City
Space Investigations (CSI) are explorations into new ways of teaching testing ict in their practicability
to ease workflows and intensify learning experiences. Following an incremental logic the first
workshop in New York (2008) applied participatory approaches while this year’s edition to São Paulo
attempted to fine-tune interaction levels with the help of ict. The results of the assessment have been
summarized in this paper and linked to on-going discourses on e-learning. Blogging, online content
during all workshop phases enabled the CSI organization to coordinate the international event better,
faster, accessible to a larger audience, while stimulating pro-activity and criticality among the
participants and enabling flexibility in thinking in different scales and disciplines. The lesson learnt is
ict can assist to deliver a condensed program and integral workshop experience but has to be critically
and carefully implemented. The hesitant use of blogging confirms other research findings requiring
necessity, trust, and stimulation for embracing new educational tools. The room for future
improvement and unused potentials of blogging will form the starting point of the CSI event in the
upcoming year. In parallel carried out workshops within an urban border condition, ict will allow to
coordinate two teams and communicate information and progress between them.

Keywords - E-learning, architectural education, workshop,

Advances in communication technologies over the last decades have affected all domains of life and
altered the way we experience the world and accumulate our knowledge. Ict affected even the
structure of knowledge itself, from knowledge fields to network knowledge, which is “more diffuse,
opaque, incoherent, and centrifugal” [12]. The new knowledge poses strong challenges to current
practices in professional but also educational lives. The World Declaration on higher Education for the
Twenty-first Century, issued by UNESCO [21] states in article 12 the importance of technology
integration and the urge to ‘make full use’ of ict. Although there are still diverging opinions about the
ways new technologies can make education more efficient, a large amount of practical examples form
a pool of best practices. The architectural profession (comprising building constructions as well as
urban planning) always has been more than a mirror of societal changes but a tool to express
positions and even stimulate change on smaller scale. The built environment affects us all and should
adapt to changes with care and sensitivity. Hence architectural education must prepare students for
the increasing complexities on the ground and equip them with critical thinking and tools to properly
address them in future research and design tasks. To achieve this conventional architectural
education will need to become multidisciplinary and centred on the learning process. Although these
changes are already basically taking place, the implementation – mostly in form of ict integration - has
often been undertaken with haste, too little criticality and missing assessment. One example is the
Faculty of Architecture at the Delft University of Technology which seems to have made change to a
means to an end. Every year new courses appear while at the same time old ones are completely
restructured without assessment and knowledge about the shortcomings of the processors. The
intention of the authors is not to question this practice but to argue for an adequate practical tool to
advance change without reformulating curricula every time. The density of workshop announcements
on the whiteboards not only reveals the popularity among students but also point to their potential to
test new didactical schemes before implementing them on large scale. The failure and success of
these condensed educational events could help to extrapolate and inform semester course setups in
the future.
The focus of this long paper is on the practical experience of the workshop and attempts to link
expectations and outcome to educational theory. Central to the paper will be the question of ict as a
tool. First the authors will outline current discourses on ict and e-learning. To do so the potential of ict
in education will be addressed and the nature and requirements of good learning outlined to then
delve on the characteristics of e-learning. In the second chapter we elaborate on new ways in
architectural education in general to draw attention to the City Space Investigation initiative. After
explaining concept and setup we then move further to connect our gained practical experience to
current research findings. The assessment with the help of questionnaires covered all positive and
negative aspects encountered during the three workshop phases: the problems within the introduction
phase (almost all participants were unfamiliar with blogging and gps recordings), the bottlenecks in the
workflow during the on-site workshop and the frictions in representation of ict versus traditional media.


2.1 Ict and learning

Information and communication technologies (ict) refer to a “diverse set of technological tools and
resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information.” [4] If
considering use and intensification of different media, there might be two ict generations
distinguishable which are best expressed in the discourse on the world-wide-web and the shift from
web 1.0 to 2.0. The web 2.0 (also known as the 'participatory web'; a term closely related with Tim
O'Reilly) is characterized, unlike its precedent instance, by immediate social exchange and interactive
participation. Its symbols are social networks, blogs and interactive knowledge databases such as
Wikipedia, but the reach of ict is far greater. The new technologies directly shape, according to Manuel
Castells [7] all processes of our individual and collective existence. In a network society, the density of
ict in all domains of life obliges educational institutions to integrate new technologies in thematic or
even better methodological terms to better prepare students for their future professional, but also
private lives. According to Oliver R. [16] the further integration of ict will change education in terms of
substance (a shift from content towards competency), place (loss of place-boundness) and content
(dissolution of knowledge fields). This basically expresses a change from content-centred to process-
centred learning and a displacement from learning from the classroom setting to more flexible setups
in time and space (with the ideal anytime, anywhere). Learning is thus not perceived as a transfer of
knowledge from teacher to students but a discovery process and accumulation of learning skills.
According to constructivism, a commonly accepted theory of learning, knowledge is internal to
learners, as to say “individual learners construct their own meanings based on their prior experiences.
Learning is a result of construction, collaboration, reflection, and negotiation within a rich context in
which learning is situated” [17].
In traditional learning schemes, knowledge transfer has been assured by classifying information into
knowledge fields (e.g. maths, physics, history). Teachers then divided these fields into sizable topics
to then disseminate knowledge to their students in a given classroom at a given time in a given form.
In this conventional setup the teacher incorporates a double role combining the function of composer
and a conductor, orchestrating students and transferring knowledge. The focus of his ambition is the
product. Although this description surely does injustice to several new (but non ict based) practices
around the globe, it will help to make the point clearer about the impact of recent technologies on the
requirements and possibilities of education. With the advancements in ict the necessity of students to
convey in classrooms at a precise time erodes. Most of the information given by the teacher can be
found on Wikipedia the rest assembled in no time in a quick internet sweep. The only reason for
students to listen to a professor might be because it is more fun or more to the point to the pool of
questions to be expected for final examinations. This attitude appears narrow minded, though justified,
if the teacher indeed emphasizes on the product (the transfer of determined information) and not the
process. A different, and largely recognized, teaching approach is process centred. The critical
question is actually not what is transferred but how knowledge is accumulated by students. In times of
web based encyclopaedia and smart search engines, any answer to a given question seems to be
merely a click away. Boldly put a teacher should not equip students with answers to precise questions
but show them ways to find them and thus give them skills to cope with any other comparable
situation. A teacher in the 21st century more than ever before has to guide the process of learning.
(This shift is also visible in the shift towards the web 3.0 generation known as the 'semantic web' but
will not be part of the discussion here) Knowledge is “situated, being in part a product of the activity,
context, and culture in which it is developed and used.” (Brown 1989, thus being different to
information). Generally speaking what is the best way of knowledge transfer and where should the
teacher position him- or herself?
Although written two decades ago the seven principles of teaching (formulated for undergraduate
level) have not lost their power and value to set up meaningful didactical frameworks, see [8] for
further reading. These guidelines basically suggest emphasizing on exchange among faculty and
students, and among students, by responsiveness, time efficiency, motivation, openness and by
stimulating active learning. While the first elements should be self-explanatory, active learning might
need elaboration. “Active learning occurs when students invest physical and mental energies in
activities that help them make what they are learning meaningful, and when they are aware of that
meaning-making.” [2] The potential of ict to fulfil the requirements of effective learning will be outlined
in the following chapter.

2.2 E-learning
E-learning (fusion of the words electronic and education) started in the early 1990s and describes all
“pedagogy empowered by digital technology.” [15] The term e-learning is closely related to remote or
distant learning that started earlier with the help of radio and television (tele-learning) although –
similar to online-learning and computer-based learning – e-learning increasingly becomes
synonymous for them and replaces the other terms. With the internet replacing the personal computer
as most important interface (synonymous for the shift from web 1.0 to web 2.0) e-learning increasingly
centres on applications making use of the world-wide-web. This starts by putting course material
online, as to say readers, curriculum, lectures, etcetera, but includes new forms of interaction like
virtual classrooms, forums, chats and blogs. Latter tools of interaction represent a considerable
acceleration of exchange time, evolving from linear (synchronous) to parallel ways (synchronous and
asynchronous [19]. In its most extreme form, e-learning are courses entirely online that can be
followed from any access point to the world-wide-web. As much as ict has changed the quality of
remote or distant learning it has affected already the everyday interaction in traditional classroom
setting, in developed countries almost no teacher can exclude email as a contact choice.
From the above written we can derive the e-learning comprises a vast field of different meanings. It
should be best considered as all educational form which mostly “facilitate and enhance learning by
means of personal computers and the Internet.” [6] Although often forgotten ict is not a means in its
end and should thus be incorporated with care: E-learning has advantages and disadvantages, bear
risk and hold potentials. Only if systematically and critically implemented failures of the first generation
can be avoided. Properly applied ict can increase the quality, the quantity, the popularity of learning
experiences, and reduce the time and costs of accumulating knowledge [4], [3].
These advantages are unlocked by the accompanied flexibility in time and space, but also – contrary
to initial concerns – an intensification of exchange among students and teacher and students. Despite
decreasing face to face contact this loss is mostly compensated by the quality-increase of
asynchronous learning. Traditionally asynchronous communication took place in forms of homework,
which can be seen as retarded communication: a question is asked, answered and then later
commented. Ict has considerably shaken this fixed didactical scheme. Emails, blogs decreased
delays, increased frequencies and established continuous links among all agents which changes the
dynamics of the relationships among them. Asynchronous exchanges proceed in slower pace as more
time is given to reflect and formulate or produce. This can open discussions to a larger group of
students (e.g. shyer students [9] or non-native as illustrated in Biesenbach-Lucas [3]) and/or breaking
down additional barriers (students appear to be more open and ask more directed questions [9], [23]).
The risks of ict implementation in education are that they could become a proper objective in itself (on
both sides: teacher and students) and reduce interaction. The initial critique that e-learning would lead
to less contact between professors and students has proven to be wrong in most practice examples,
as “to compensate for the lack of face-to-face interaction, institutions or professors often promise
students a quick response to personal correspondence by e-mail” [23] a common rule is within 48
hours. Linked to these efforts are other ‘practical’ shortcomings of ict integration. The flexibility in time
often blends teaching and spare time and making it a 24h job. To date it has become conventional
wisdom that virtual teaching requires more time than traditional forms [23]. On the side of the
participant a similar additional work load often occurs. Further the time required to acquire or at least
to familiarize with the technology can take considerable dimensions in the beginning and also poses a
certain entrance burden (in knowledge, time and financial investment) to participants.
Due to this higher involvement of teaching staff and the costs of technical equipment and maintenance
the initial claim that ict-based teaching would decrease costs fell short in practice, at least in the short
time and if focusing on monetary costs. Ignoring ict would cause unquantifiable costs to society and
therefore the right answer to ask is not if but how new technologies should be integrated into
education. Subject to the next chapter will be the theoretical and practical discussion about ways to
make use of the potentials of ict while avoiding the negative aspects at the same time.


3.1 Architectural Education

Architecture and urbanism are disciplines that are situated in the grey zone between science and art
and moreover position themselves at an intersection of several fields of knowledge. The profession of
architecture not only becomes more complex because of an increase in size of projects and agents
involved but also due to the increasing complexity of the forces shaping the built environment.
Students of architecture and urbanism need to take political, social, cultural, technical and economic
dimensions of assignments into consideration. This need for multidisciplinarity has slowly opened up
the teaching of architectural matters to alternatives concepts and new technologies. Already now the
education of architecture has a strong computer focus, the times of drawing tables are long passed
and the further integration of ict is on its rise [6].
Despite an ongoing change in tools – from pencil to the digital mouse, the framework resisted for
longtime modifications – the conventional design studio is still largely focal point of knowledge
generation and transfer. Its didactical concept can be traced to the Beaux Arts of 19th century
Brussels and gained international importance with the theoretical and practical dissemination power of
the German Bauhaus. Despite this inertness, ict has effectively shaken the rigidity of design classes.
Certain pilot initiative managed to dissolve the difficult master/teacher – student interaction with their
spatial requirements to successfully translate them into virtual space. Successful in this context means
that there has been no considerable loss in quality. According to Attoe and Mugerauer [1] who
analyzed the components of successful design teachers, a good studio stimulates exchange,
interdisciplinarity and interest. The suggested teaching method is the Socratic way of maieutics which
focuses on the process. The teacher’s role is one of a dialogue partner gently giving conversations a
direction. To make this concept a bit more sizable the work of Broadfoot and Bennett [5] might be of
value. These two researchers compared traditional models based on Schön’s explorations and virtual
studios with Kvan’s publications. According to them effective studio teaching fulfils following four
requirements. It stimulates learning by doing (following Schön designing is based on reflective action
that requires the stage knowledge in action), one-to-one dialogue (face to face or remote)
collaboration among participants (importance of trust) and focuses on processes. The first attempts to
achieve this in an online (or virtual) studio can be traced back to the 1993. After pilot initiatives in the
United States and Canada virtual studios flourished since the mid 1990s, also as a consequence of
the technological leaps in communication capacities. “Teachers and students, on different continents
and in different time zones, work on a common design projects using computer-aided design systems,
email, a central database, and video-conferencing.” [4] The common characteristics of such initiative
were an aim to broaden time and space boundaries by using electronic tools and a combination of
asynchronous and synchronous communication. The combination of conventional and ict-based
frameworks is called blending. The biggest successes seem to have been realized in such frameworks
as the advantages of one form can compensate the disadvantages of the other. The City Space
Investigations workshop of 2009 aimed to recruit students from Brazil and The Netherlands and thus
employed largely blended education (although for the different parties at different times, slightly
different models have been used). The exact consideration and setup will be outlined in the next
section and evaluated in the third part of this chapter.

3.2 City Space Investigations

In 2007 two Explorelab students began to translate their personal dissatisfaction about the workshop
landscape of the Delft University of Technology into concrete plans. At the faculty of architecture
despite its tradition of didactical experiments, workshops, particular the excursion based ones, more
often than not lacked quality in execution and results. Even the most promising initiatives focusing on
relevant and complex issues seem to fall short to the expectations, making poorly use of the potential
of the participants. This waste of human resources at hands can be explained by the relative
conventional teaching model they applied. Teachers were still focal point of knowledge dissemination
and main concern, driven by justification, has been final products. This is particular sad, as
workshops, as short educational events bear the potential to test alternatives to mainstream
architectural education. Focused in time and situated in different locations, workshops could serve as
condensed learning experience fine-tuning workflows and adapting teaching models to efficiency
In this perspective we initiated the City Space Investigations workshop series conceived as an
incrementally growing operation based on a four years term: until 2010 yearly organized workshops
will increase in scale and scope, better addressing and incorporating the topic of education and
change. The first workshop in New York (2008) has been realized as pilot initiative with relative little
resources and efforts. Conceived as an educational experiment it tested the practicability of complete
participatory approaches, opposing classical power structures (teachers teach – students learn).
Motivated by the graduation laboratory Explorelab at the Delft University of Technology, which has
been created by students for students, giving liberty to participants to formulate their graduation thesis
in content, setup and timeline, we attempted to realize equality of participants during all workshop
phases. Being graduate students ourselves we incorporated the role of the coordinator and gave
complete freedom to the students to formulate their fascination into sizable projects. The only
constraints have been that the idea can be realized within a two week on-site period, and the topic
confirms to the general focus on informal processes within the urban environment. This umbrella for
individual or group projects provided more a terming than actually direction as the bipolar word pair of
formality and informality literarily comprises the world. Despite this liberty to pursue a theme of interest
in a foreign city, it appeared that students faced difficulties with this total freedom. The liberty of choice
was perceived as hindrance. The missing imposed structure and direction considerably made the
generation of knowledge burdensome. More students than expected required extensive guidance
during the preparation phase (drafting the idea) and particularly on-site. The satisfactory final results
can not hide the fact that the process of creation has been very non-linear.
The final assessment has thus been ambivalent. On the one side the organization was pleased by the
‘psychological profile’ of the participants (pro-active), their commitment and the delivered results, on
the other hand this success required far more active stimulations than anticipated. Students were
often lost and looked for hierarchies to frame their thoughts and ideas. The workshop evaluation
helped us to realize the essential potential of participatory approaches: freedom should not be the goal
but the condensation of the learning experience. As a direct consequence the next City Space
Investigation workshop was carried out with more direction. By reducing liberty it was hoped to
maximise the learning experience.
CSI.SP 2009-setup
The CSI.SP followed several goals at the same time. This year’s workshop attempted to grow in scale
to investigate the dynamics of larger groups. Further it attempted to create synergic ties between
different students and design professionals by opening the participation process. The focus of the
setup has been on maximising the experience by workflow optimization while balancing freedom with
theoretical and methodological direction. An ict-based working framework has been developed to
bridge geographical distance during the preparation phases and ease workflows on-site. For this
purpose and the administrative complexification of the up-scaling process a third person,
knowledgeable in ict and webtools joint the CSI team.
The CSI workshops follow a classical three-fold structure (preparation – on-site and post-production).
The preparation phase started with the recruitment of the Dutch participants, the Brazilians would
follow later as their involvement had been expected only in the on-site phase. The call for participation
has been sent to several faculties, different universities in The Netherlands and Dutch design
professionals, beginning in November. The global economic crisis has seriously hampered the
recruitment of architects and students alike. Despite large interest, a lot of potential candidates
resigned in the course of the time, mostly because of liquidity problem and/or fear of job security. The
initial aim of 15 students and 12 professionals could not be achieved. Taking in numbers the
recruitment of professionals was very disappointing. A small success, despite all adverse conditions,
Bart Aptroot, from One Architecture decided to join our workshop. As the failure of equal integration of
professionals could not be achieved this year, but seems to owe more to macro-economic conditions
as to a faulty setup or lack of interest, it will rank among next year’s priorities this time with a proven
portfolio. The following discourse will concentrate on the theoretical concept of the setup and ignore
the fact that the arrangements for professional could have been skipped this year in favour of a direct
The preparation phase for the participants started in February and consisted of weekly lectures, a
Portuguese crash course and several meetings clarifying content and administrative purposes. The
lectures covered relevant topics, such as an introduction to the city, urban space, and urban
informality. Lecturers were taped and made accessible via our website. Within a self written webframe
we integrated freeware applications and combined the voice recordings and the presentation files on The results can be found via and have been extremely
popular. Most voice embedded lectures were viewed an average of 200-300 times a month while the
introduction lecture of multimedia web applications had a hint clock of 500 on a single day. This has
surely to do with the fact this lecture has been featured on the front page of SlideShare. A second
introduction lecture (about São Paulo) was even further featured on the main page of educational
portal. Professionals whose attendance was not obligatory could follow the progress of the
introduction phase online, while Brazilian students who were recruited towards the end of the
preparation phase could get the same information via the website. Initial thoughts to run the
preparation phase also parallel in São Paulo were given up as the preconditions of institutional
support and a committed local contact could not be realized.
In beginning of April the Dutch workshop group finally took off to Brazil. After a short acclimatization
phase the heart piece of the whole initiative started on the 5th of April with an informal gathering.
Communication with the Brazilian students entirely took place via internet, although we equipped
every Dutch participant with a local sim card there was seldom an actual use for them. The first week
the combined group visited several locations by bus in Greater São Paulo. The participants were
divided in sub-groups and equipped with a gps tracker. A special task has been assigned to the four to
five members of a group, which should also pay attention to use the range of media available
(sketches, voice records, photos, videos, notes) to diversify impressions and information. At the end of
the day the groups should write a blog entry reflecting on the day. The composition of each group
changed the next day and after this initial stage of stimulating group work the organization hoped
exchange would happen in a freer setting. An additional daily assignment, besides posting on
individual blogs, was to collect and select individually recorded media. To avoid overload of raw data,
every participant has been asked to select a specific number of pictures and other forms of media and
transfer it to a common external hard drive. The organization in exchange assured to remind students
of their tasks and commented very morning to the blog entries. The division of tasks resulted in one
CSI member to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning and using the two hours before breakfast to read
and respond to the blogs.
During the second week in São Paulo participants worked in groups on different areas within the city.
The grouping took place after a brainstorm session on the Friday of the first week and according to
common interests. Although a central physical space is provided, the strong fieldwork focus required
flexibility in schedule and attendance of group moments. Every group was asked to maintain their blog
page and inform themselves about the progress of the others. This assignment has been poorly
followed as the common accommodation and informal meetings at night offered easier and more
direct ways to exchange ideas and discuss. Nevertheless there has been vivid exchange (although the
conventional way) among different groups and the results presented at the end of the second week
revealed a large scale of diversity while featuring remarkably deep insights into very different matters.
The organization by focusing on the learning process has been very positively surprised about the
results, confirming the constructivist teaching claim.
The post production phase has been minimized as participants were asked to reflect everyday on their
work and archive material similarly in regular steps. Their projects needed to be translated into posters
that were exhibited in June at the faculty of architecture. In terms of representation the participants
seemingly struggled to combine analogue information with digital work, mostly opting to translate
sketches and hand writings into a digital poster. Conventional and ict tools should similarly be critically
reflected upon in the perspective of representation and information dissemination. Therefore like the
first CSI workshop in NY, the question of ict and representation will be properly addressed in the
upcoming year. If someone is interested in the result please feel free to visit our presentation
slideshows and virtual exhibitions via our website
In the post production phase participants were asked to fill out an evaluation form (at 100% return
rate). The questionnaire can be found in the annexe but generally speaking an answer scale from 0 to
10 has been applied, although the meaning of the numbers might vary. There have been three
different kind of closed questions: Type A could be answered with Yes or NO, Type B with a one sided
scale from 10 as expression of total agreement to the statement until 0 as entire disagreement. The
third type (C) of closed question had a two sided scale, 5 being the appropriate intensity while 10
represents too much and 0 too little. Additional open questioned asked participants to give
suggestions and direct comments in a few lines. The results will be presented in this paragraph by
making use of the practical guidelines of Polichar and Bagwell [17]. The authors established a
checklist for setting up an online course, which reminds strongly of the 5W + H. Following thoughts
should be properly addressed: Why, who (is the audience), what (are the limitations, the content, the
goals, the strategies), how (will the objectives measured).
- Why setting up?
As mentioned earlier the CSI 2009 workshop in São Paulo aimed to maximise the learning
experience. The whole initiative has been conceived as a free-choice module outside the official
curriculum that allowed greater liberty in setup and execution. Based on similar past experience the
organization opted for a two week on-site setup, which according to our personal impression has been
very intensely filled. The participants graded it with a 5.64 close to the value five indicating ‘just right’
work load and in terms of excursions 5.70. Remarkable is the range of answers from 1 to 8 and 3 to 8
respectively. This in so far is surprising as many participants during the on-site phase mentioned the
extreme density of excursions, lectures and meetings. Although the organization shares this opinion it
appears that the setup has been stretching out what is possible within such a short time period. In the
first week the program was scheduled mostly from 8:30 departure until 18:00. Considering the post
production efforts required every day this equals working days of twelve hours. For the next year the
organization will follow a comparable excursion setup but is seriously considering stretching the whole
program over two and half weeks or even three, as the translation from input to output oriented
working has been too short.
- Who is the audience?
Polichar and Bagwell [17] emphasize the importance of the audience (starting with computer and
internet accessibility, program and world-wide-web experience, attitude towards e-learning). These
conditions have been extremely favourable in case of the CSI.SP participants, who all possessed
personal computers, extensive computer skills and an open mind towards non-traditional education.
To assess the attitude towards ict direct and indirect questions have been applied. Half of the
participants answered to the question about their attitude about the ict integration before entering the
workshop with 7 or higher (Type B: 10=optimistic). The indirect question addressed the computer skills
including frequency of social network use. Strikingly enough the lowest value has been the answer
about internet-based application, seeming to be a red rag for 44% percent (5 or lower, Type B
10=expert). While typical architecture related software (presentation, graphic, photo-editing programs
and CAD) ranked around 7 (from 6.93-7.29) and expressed also in the margin of answers (4 to 9 and
5 to 8) a relative coherence among the participants. The question about messenger and Facebook
use featured the greatest difference, 1 to 10 and 0 to 9 respectively. There was no correlation to age
or gender, despite the fact the sample of 16 responses would not allow any conclusions in this regard
anyway. The reluctance and openness towards new technologies seem to depend on personal
characteristics and preferences and reflect the diverse personalities among the CSI participants.
Nevertheless the integration of blogging – new to most participants – revealed that a careful
implementation taking into account the diverse level of knowledge and interest can lead to a generally
positive attitude. With the help of a settled introduction lecture and permanent feedback the
organization, over 85% judged the blogging aspect of the workshop with 7 or higher (7.43 average,
Type B, 10=great). Furthermore only four participants could not imagine to continue blogging on an
interesting matter in the future.
- What are the limitations?
The limitations have been certainly budget and time. Being extra curricular the event has been
realized by external financing and in the reduced way possible. Aside the proper developed webframe
all programs were free- or shareware. In terms of work force amount has been reduced to its
minimum. A technical advisor is of utmost importance, a similar contact person should be available in
terms of administration and theoretical content consequently the organization team consisted of three
permanent staff, with each having one expertise and an important knowledge overlap among each
other, to enable communication but also compensate for one another in eventual unavailability.
- What is the content?
The content of this workshop has been informal production of urban space. The concept of (urban)
informality has to be understood in its larger meaning as sphere outside formality, as to say beyond
the reach of local or national governments, law and planning. Informality in urban space thus contains
spatial and non-spatial realities. Also the sphere of illegality pertains to informality but as this illicit form
represents an extreme within the world of informality there is on the other side of the scale a reality of
high potential to benefit lower population groups or society at large. At this end situates the concern
and the motivation of the CSI initiative. How to make use of the creative energies of informality in a
world of increasing urbanization and inequality? Space represents an interface of observation but also
communication among different disciplines. The flexible setup of on-site visits and global views in
forms of lectures should enable similar flexible thinking among different scales. The content of the
workshop centred on processes and complex issues. Participants seem to have appreciated this
challenging theoretical underpinning as the overall grade has been very high with 7.50 (Type B, 10=
- What are the goals?
The precise aim of the CSI workshop is to deliver an integral learning experience to the participants
and change the ways the look at urban problems. The flexible setup among different disciplines and
scales should stimulate similar thinking among the students and indeed certain comments in the
questionnaire and in conversations during the different phases indicate a certain success. One student
for example stated: “I think the result of the workshop is more than just a poster or text the experience
was the most valuable part for me.” On two occasions with different students one of the authors was
positively surprised by the sharpness of some comments. “I always wanted to become an architect to
influence lives of people…. but being here I realize the problems are on a different scale… I should
better become a planner … even better be a politician”.
- What are the strategies?
The strategic tools to enable flexibility in scale and discipline had been a diverse offer from different
angles. Planners, architects, academics illustrated their view points on certain topics while excursions
guided by community leaders, artists and others revealed another side to reality. To ease the link of
global views and abstract information to on-site pictures and impressions gps loggers were distributed
tracking the spatial moves of participants. With the help of Google Maps the workshop also received a
spatial log. The written blogs were another important strategy to stimulate exchange but also to
achieve the condensation of the workshop. With a group size of around 20 people, regular feedback
meetings would have consumed much valuable time. Therefore blogging should allow participants to
communicate with the organizers and receive feedback from other fellows and could thus reduce the
requirement of face to face meetings to a minimum. Giving feedback is essential for any group
learning process. Short feedback time is identified as one of the seven principles in undergraduate
teaching [8], see also [17] therefore the organization commented on the blogs on daily basis. Although
blogging would allow students to exchange thoughts and discuss independently experience in the CSI
workshop has shown that writing on the virtual board needs as much stimulation as a physical one.
The lack of discussions and idea exchange on blogs and blackboards has been stated in other
researches as well [3]. In the CSI case participants were phase-wise obliged to put posts on the
common blog. Although everyone complied with these requests, virtual exchange among participants
remained minimal. Further self-motivated blogging has been, besides a few exceptions, non-existing.
The often stated reason was a perceived lack of time. There might be certain validity to this position
but the organization believes to a deeper dimension to this non-activity. First of all, the common
accommodation that has been chosen for to ease briefings and common physical meetings made face
to face contacts omnipresent and stimulated exchange of ideas the conventional way. “I think that
[blogging] was a very nice way of sharing impressions, opinions and information, but the idea that we
should do it every day was a bit to much for me.” Similar the opinion of another student “The blogging
was a bit too much work to follow and the blog was a bit too large to have a good overview, but I
believe the blog as format is excellent for communication.”
Maybe the most important strategy to achieve the integral experience has been participatory
approaches. Every participant could influence setup, content and methods and take responsibility for
certain aspects of the workshop. This freedom “didn’t feel like a burden but as an opportunity to make
the workshop ‘your own’. A participatory approach is the way to realize that.” (A student’s comment)
This statement confirms other research findings:
“Participatory/active learning is key to online success. For students to take an active role in the
learning community, the faculty role shifts from course leader to course facilitator who communicates
passion for the content to the students and who empowers students to become increasingly
autonomous learners.” [11]
A facilitator concentrates on the process as to say the way to walk not the destination. The knowledge
in human capacities, in learning processes and interconnected thinking can thus be more valuable
than yearlong expertise in a field. “The teacher has become more of a coach on the side rather than
the main source for delivering information.” [17] This may explain why the City Space Investigation
workshop series initiated and carried out by students could yield results that may be compared to any
curriculum-based alternative. A careful setup and integration of ict has optimized workflows and
stimulated pro-activity of students who taught themselves with minimum guidance how to approach
complex issues of poverty, inequality and slums in an unfamiliar urban environment. Already the old
Romans realized the interrelation of teaching and learning: “By learning you will teach; by teaching
you will learn.”

In the domain of tertiary education it becomes very evident that one size fits all is an unattainable and
even undesirable setup for teaching. Individuals are coming with a considerable package of
knowledge but also characters are more settled and diverse. The discrepancy in answering the
evaluation form substantiated the impression of the organizers that participants were very diverse in
their expectations, preparation and skills. Even more remarkable is the highly converging satisfaction
grade (7.93 with a margin of 7 to 9, Type B. 10=excellent) and about the personal workshop results
(7.31 with a margin of 7 to 8, Type B. 10=excellent). Additionally the unanimous assent that the
participatory approaches (the workshop's methodological backbone) have been adequately realized
confirms that the City Space Investigation Workshop is on the right track of development.
For the upcoming workshop that most likely will take place in the twin city of Brazzaville and Kinshasa
at the border of the two Congos, ict integration will continue. The low frequency of blogging will be
addressed in a two-fold manner, by reducing the daily work load and freeing the adequate time and by
increasing its necessity. Two parallel workshops, one in Brazzaville the other in Kinshasa will
communicate via blogs and embedded multimedia applications to inform each other about progress
and exchange ideas potentially in combination with 'video conferencing'. With this additional
experience it is hoped to translate this first article version into a journal submission by the end of 2010.

The Workshop is the product of many supportive hands. We owe our gratitude to SEHAB, the
Secretary of State for Housing for their great tours and lectures, to the IAB, Instituto do Arquitetos do
Brasil, for providing the space and to all people that assisted us during the different phases.
The CSI organization would like to address a special acknowledgment to the CvB Fonds (TU Delft),
Universiteitsfonds (Delft) and StuD fonds (Delft) that supported us financially, also to attend this
conference and Maria Snelders from Stylos for all her advice and support during the last years
stimulating and inspiring pro-activity.


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7.1 Questionnaire CSI.SP