Gibbs at Home - Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture

Gibbs at Home

Gibbs at Home

Due to COVID-19, the University of Oklahoma announced that all classes would be transitioning to an online format for the remainder of the semester. This transition marked a significant change for Gibbs College students and faculty. We reached out to some of our awesome students and faculty members who shared their experiences and advice in their own words.

Students

Casady Ball | Senior

Norman, OK

Interior Design

What was the transition to online classes like?   

Transitioning to online classes has been fairly smooth. Our professors have been so helpful and supportive through it all, and our type of work is easily done remotely. 

What sorts of obstacles have you encountered with online learning and how have you overcome them?   

The hardest obstacle is the lack of in-person critique time, I have also had trouble finding enough space to spread out my materials. 

What are some ways that Gibbs College faculty have supported you during this transition? 

My professors are so quick to offer a Zoom call if I am having trouble understanding something or needing feedback. 

How do you feel about graduating during this time?   

This is a weird time to be transitioning into the “real world,” as the world is not entirely the same as we remember it. Nevertheless, it is an exciting time that my fellow classmates and I have worked towards for a long time now. I look forward to taking my next step and having this historic event as a part of my story. 

What advice would you give to future GCA students?   

I would definitely tell future GCA students to interact with faculty and fellow students, and create connections/friendships. These people are great resources in class or later in the workforce. It also builds a support system for when you experience late nights in the studio (or even a global pandemic). 

Ben DeCuyper | Senior

Tulsa, OK

Architecture

What was the transition to online classes like?   

The transition to online classes has been seamless. Not only have my professors conducted a smooth transition, I believe the work performed by students from all divisions of GCA is readily adaptable to the current situation. I realize that during this time not everyone will have the resources and workspace they are accustomed to, but I wouldn’t expect this to diminish anyone’s creativity or ability to create. Now more than ever, when the slightest action (such as staying indoors) can yield incredible change (like curbing a pandemic), it is difficult to not be inspired.  

What sorts of obstacles have you encountered with online learning and how have you overcome them?   

Any obstacles I’ve encountered since classes moved online haven’t been different than those which I dealt with previously. It’s the usual suspects, only a new context.  

What are some ways that Gibbs College faculty have supported you during this transition? 

The GCA faculty have done a great job conducting a smooth transition.  

How do you feel about graduating during this time?   

I have recently come across articles which claim this is “the year that didn’t happen” due to expected functions and milestones not occurring in their typical fashion, such as graduation ceremonies. I completely disagree. I would like to think this is the first period in quite some time when people are able to truly perceive. This is not to dismiss the severity of what is happening, but this opportunity to slow down and assess our recent (or even not so recent) actions will be fruitful.  

While in Norman, I have become highly invested in my work and this engagement with pure momentum does have its benefits, however, I often feel I’m unable to perceive the work/accomplishments of those in other disciplines.  

This period of perception, when empathy is so present, is resulting in something like the practice of analyzing a building post-occupancy; a practice most firms are unable to engage in. Instead of riding momentum and moving project to project, we can revisit our past works. To enter the space, or state of mind, where we can perceive whether our efforts have been worthwhile and contextualize our approach with those from other trades/disciplines.  

What advice would you give to future GCA students?   

If at any point you suffer from a lack of inspiration, revaluate your design and the goal you are working toward. Don’t be afraid to put in the extra time to reorient the project toward a goal that holds your interest. After all, if the project isn’t keeping you excited and motivated, it is unfair for you to expect excitement from others when they engage with your work. 

Drew Coker | Senior

Owasso, OK

Construction Science

What was the transition to online classes like?   

My transition to online classes hasn’t been too difficult. Lectures and assignments are easy to access and I think the online infrastructure is adequate. That being said, face to face teaching is impossible to replicate, and I think all students are feeling the impact of not being in as much of an interactive learning environment.  

What sorts of obstacles have you encountered with online learning and how have you overcome them?   

Online classes make it more difficult to interact with your teachers and classmates. Asking questions and collaborating with classmates during lectures, assignments and group projects is much easier when in person. Online classes are the only way to make the most out of our current situation, but they do pose a major communication barrier that takes away from the learning process. I think overall, the value of a college semester is extremely diminished when delivered through online courses. 

What are some ways that Gibbs College faculty have supported you during this transition? 

The Gibbs College faculty have made themselves available via Zoom, email, and phone to do their best to help the students as much as they can along the way. Posting lectures and slides to Canvas for us to go back and access has been helpful for me. 

How do you feel about graduating during this time?   

There is no doubt that graduating during a global pandemic is a nerve-racking experience. I think it is reasonable to assume that all graduates are having difficulties finding and/or keeping employment now more than ever. With that being said, I am still proud to receive my degree from the University of Oklahoma and I am very much looking forward to entering the work force in the coming months. 

What advice would you give to future GCA students?   

To future GCA students, my biggest piece of advice is to apply yourself and be honest with yourself. Attend every lecture, interact with your professors and classmates so that you will build lasting relationships with all of them. These relationships will be the foundation on which your college learning experience is built. Be honest with yourself so that you have a realistic view on your strengths and what you need to spend more time studying and working on.

Matthew Tilinghast | Senior

Norman, OK

Environmental Design

What was the transition to online classes like?   

The transition to online classes has been largely seamless, with many of my projects shifting slightly to accommodate the online classes. The hardest part has been the separation from my peers, but Zoom meetings certainly help! 

What sorts of obstacles have you encountered with online learning and how have you overcome them?   

My biggest obstacle has been the fact that I normally do much of my homework outside of my home, at either a coffee shop or in the Gould Hall computer lab. I solved for this by moving my desk into the main living area of my apartment, effectively making a work area separate from my living areas. I go to “class” and have set times where I am working on projects or papers.  

What are some ways that Gibbs College faculty have supported you during this transition? 

My professors have all been extremely understanding with the nature of this transition. With online courses, one of my professors even decided to end class early to let us focus on our final papers and other classes more thoroughly.  

How do you feel about graduating during this time?   

Honestly, it’s depressing. I have been working towards this for so long, and to have it ripped away so close to the finish line is pretty hard to swallow. Yes, I am getting my degree, but I will feel as though I have left my time as an undergrad unfinished.  

What advice would you give to future GCA students?   

Don’t worry about where you’re going. Focus on getting there. You’re going to get to graduation and a job quickly enough, enjoy the time you have now. Make your classes personal and strive for excellence in everything that you do here, because you are only doing yourself a disservice by doing anything else.  

Faculty

C. Aujean Lee

Assistant Professor of Regional + City Planning

How has the transition to online classes been for you and your students?

It seems to be going well. I changed my lectures to an interactive version with some discussion questions that they respond to. We also had a synchronous class where it felt somewhat closer to our typical class format, which is a lot of discussion. 

How are online classes different from in-person classes?   

I miss the ability for students to discuss topics and bounce ideas off of each other. While they are still getting some of the same material, my classroom is set up so that students will ask each other questions and build off of their ideas. I also am not able to do as many activities that would have been in person. I tried to adapt by having them watch videos and go to different websites that help convey similar concepts, but it doesn’t have the same effect of community building. 

How are you keeping student engaged and on track during this difficult time?

I am sending frequent emails and have checked in on them a few times during this uncertain time. We had one online class that was synchronous, and the break out function in Zoom was helpful to have them do group discussions! 

What tools have been most helpful in the transition to online classes? 

I was already using powerpoint in class, so I was able to edit those and upload to canvas. The library also assisted with helping me access a film that I was already going to show in person–students could access through Kanopy and the library catalog.

How have you been able to keep your students motivated?

I hope the open communication has been helpful, and I also am aware that they are undergoing their own stressors. I aim to not overburden them with extra assignments at the time. 

What do you hope students will get out of this experience?  

As future planners, I hope the students learn how they can do public engagement in different modes. This transition to more online engagement will likely affect our profession as a whole, and the skills during this time on how to use zoom and design online presentations will be important moving forward. 

Dave Boeck

Associate Professor of Architecture

How has the transition to online classes been for you and your students? 

I have found it to be a challenge just in figuring out the tools available to continue doing what I did in class before.  One tool is the use of my tablet for sketching either new drawings or over the top of existing drawings or student drawings.  By using screen share and having them upload a sketch to a file I can access, I can take their drawing and sketch over the top of it and show them how to do what I’d like them to learn. 

How is it different from an in-person class?  

In class I walk from desk to desk looking at student work.  Usually I take their pencil or whatever they are using and sketch over what they are working on.  There are methods for doing that online also.  In screen share I can use a tool accessible in zoom to sketch on their drawing on the screen.  It’s not as convenient as on paper but it works. 

How are you keeping student engaged and on track during this difficult time?  

I have found that I can actually keep them engaged better because in Zoom I am looking them right in the eye at close range so there is more engagement right off the bat.  It is easier to carry on a conversation with them also. 

What tools have been most helpful in the transition to online classes?  

The drawing tool in Zoom, the drawing tools on my tablet, and webcam and a document reader. 

How have you been able to keep your students motivated?  

Because of the closeness in Zoom, I think I can offer suggestions and give them feedback more effectively believe it or not!  It’s the personal online contact that makes it most effect. 

What do you hope students will get out of this experience?  

I hope it would be that we can be effective teachers and students no matter where we are located.  The connectedness is the key.  Staying connected and communicating.  This has helped me to see how important personal interaction is to maintaining a successful classroom environment where learning occurs.