This semester I was pleased to be able to act as Facilitator to Year 3 Students on their Surveying Studio course (RECO3017), within the Department of Real Estate and Construction Management at the University of Hong Kong. The students were given a 90 day period in which to arrange themselves into groups, select their own facilitator and then work together with their facilitators to develop their own Studio Project.
The assignment for this year’s studio was to investigate how the real estate and construction sector can contribute to the development of a Smart Hong Kong. The brief was to develop creative, forward looking and socially inclusive solutions that address the Smart City from a built environment perspective. It was therefore up to the individual groups to decide on a definition of ‘smart city’ and to decide at what level they wished to look at the phenomenon. For example if it is a matter of specific technologies, tools and products, a conceptual change to the process as a whole, or indeed a fundamental rethink of the outputs of the industry.
A key part of the Study was for the Students to develop their own Learning Contract; an agreement and commitment between the student learning group and the facilitator regarding the amount of learning they wished to do. In the learning contract, they outlined what they wanted to learn, how they were going to learn it, what evidence they would produce to indicate what they had learned, and how to evaluate the evidence.
The 4 groups (23 students) that I was able to work with looked at various issues that concerned them about living quality in Hong Kong. I encouraged them to select and focus on subjects close to their hearts in order that they remained motivated throughout the study period.
They came up with some really visionary, yet tangible ideas on how to improve people’s lives by utilising Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s). With deep research they were able to create robust and defendable strategies, outlining how to implement and finance their project initiatives.
This is what they came up with… some really great stuff!!!
Why use a Learning Contract?
The purpose of the learning contract is to help students become self-directed learners. It makes explicit the learning objectives and responsibilities of the student learning group and the facilitator whilst it is thought that participation in setting learning objectives makes the learner more committed to the learning process. The learner also negotiates with the facilitator on the timing, type and criteria of assessment. A learning contract allows learners to gain control over their own learning and to validate their own learning through the presentation of a reflective journal, portfolio, activities report, and other means.