FROM PHYSICAL TO VIRTUAL: A CASE STUDY ON TEACHING NANOTECHNOLOGIES AND FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS FOR DESIGN WITH SMART LESSONS
Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:It is a quite long tradition for lesson upon materials in the design school to have a hands-on practice with materials samples during the lessons.
Learning by doing  is an effective method for design students because it allows them to gather a durable knowledge upon material characteristics and, at the same time, it enables educators to give students a tangible correspondence between theory and practice [2, 3]. The main limitation of this approach is the necessity of sharing the same physical room during the lesson.
On the contrary, COVID-19 pandemic emergency in 2020 is pushing institutions all around the globe to close schools and universities in order to limit the spread of the virus , allowing an increasing digitalised way to deliver lessons. This affects, e.g. for Italy, also many businesses . Indeed, over the last decade work practices in big industrial domain have dramatically changed towards an increasing adoption of new organisational models such as Smart Working [6, 7].
In this paper authors want to explore how it can be possible to provide course contents, typically shared to the attending classroom with a physical interaction, through a smart lesson setup, where educators and students are displaced in different sites of the world and meet each other only into a digital online classroom.
Due to the impossibility to share physical material samples to the class, several new tools and approaches have been exploited to make students understand and get involved into the discovery of technical and “sensorial” properties of the materials even without the physical samples to interact with.
Some strategies have been suggested by the Faculty as main guidelines in order to keep high the students’ attention and be aware of the overall audience participation to the smart lessons, while others were born directly through the on-field practice.
An analysis of main advantages and disadvantages of the proposed smart lesson procedure have been deeply explored and reported into the current paper, including lesson modalities, typology of information provided to students, as well as the audience’s feedback.
Several new interactions between educators and students have been enlightened during the length of the course and new modalities of sharing contents between peers rise up from the smart lessons experience.
Group making, exercises, and main deliveries have been re-adapted to the new lesson modality in order to maintain the quality of the outputs, trying to be in continuity with previous lesson modalities, avoiding a radical change. So, a comparison between physical and virtual lesson modes is here presented and discussed.
Keywords: Smart lessons, Case study, Design Education, Materials.