The Landscape Architecture Online Course Network is a Ning-based social network that I created for use in my Introduction to Landscape Architecture course. I was unsatisfied with the ability of USU’s Canvas course management software to provide the ability for students to easily view and critique each others work. The Network enables students to easily upload and comment on each other’s designs. They are instantly notified when someone has commented on their design, which helps to encourage interaction and awareness of the feedback that they are receiving. Because it is based on the Ning-platform, the Network is viewable across all platforms and devices, enabling students to make and receive feedback anytime and from anywhere.
One of the shortcomings that I have encountered is that the system is only as good as the users. Most of the students in my introductory course have never designed or critically analyzed a design. As a result, it is difficult at times for robust conversations about a design occurring. The ultimate goal is to combine several classes on the network, so that more experienced design students will be providing feedback and modeling critiquing behavior for less experienced design students. The experienced students will also benefit from having the opportunity to explain and teach what they have been learning from their education.