November 24, 2008

Using IT in Interior Design

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Nearly ten years ago I began using IT in my interior design courses, teaching CAD (computer assisted design) in a computer lab and hand colouring in a drafting studio.

Over the years I’ve tried a number of IT activities in my courses using programs such as Powerpoint, Lanschool, Netquiz and Cubix to help students at various levels in a number of activities, yet the IT activity that has remained the most effective in my mind was the simple preparation of a CDrom filled with images to be used in my course on drafting and rendering called ‘Dessin et rendu‘!

A Simple Solution to a Thorny Problem

Students in the rendering course had to represent different materials being used in interior design projects. Certain materials such as marble or stone were so difficult to represent for certain students that they simply avoided using these materials in their projects because they couldn’t illustrate them correctly.

Marble texture.

Therefore, I changed my teaching methodology in order to solve this problem. I illustrated marble and stone in class and brought in material samples as well as illustrations from texts. I remember making small groups of five or six students and going from table to table with books and illustrations in hand, repeating the theory to each group and using the material with me to illustrate my points. At last, my students succeeded in completing the entry level exercises but still needed to check with me and get additional explanations. I spent my time answering the classic question, “Am I doing this right?” and felt that I wasn’t really turning out designers who could render these materials effectively on their own.

A Better Solution

After this, I decided to get a little more high-tech. I scanned and mounted the most important illustrations in the books and hung them on a wall for easy student reference. I felt that I was improving student access to this material, but barely half of my students used this opportunity to compare their work to the pros in order to develop their abilities.

The following year I borrowed a computer and data projector kit on a trolley to project the scanned images. This multimedia solution seemed to help my students.

For one thing, the screening broke the routine. It was also a lot more pleasant for me to explain things once to the entire group. The most surprising element of this activity, however, was that students lined up to see the illustrations on the computer screen during the presentation. It seemed that the allure of the screen image motivated them to consult the information that they contained.

Living room rendering.

I increased the number of images during each year taking preparation time into account. I created several new folders and also included examples of bad rendering to better illustrate errors to avoid.

Now, there is an in-class computer, and there isn’t a concept that isn’t presented without a CD of images. Theory is always presented with projected images and the students can consult the file during the workshops. The index allows them to access the material they need and to see bad as well as good examples of how it is rendered.

Sample plan.

Sample plan.

The Results

The number of questions in class has significantly decreased. The majority of students consult the bank of images to see good and bad examples at close range and to compare their work with the best work of former years.

Since I have progressively integrated IT into this course, student participation has increased and the quality of the renderings submitted is markedly better than what it was.

I realize that IT has forced me to make my pedagogy more student-based. Students work more and retain more than they did before. My main task is no longer just to answer questions; I have time to really provide personalized advice.

Furthermore, these experiences have shown me that the most valuable IT activities are not necessarily the most complex ones or the ones that take place in the computer lab. Even a minor activity can be a real asset for a class if you understand their needs and integrate the technology progressively.

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