Wassim Jabi, PhD, an assistant professor in the New Jersey School of Architecture at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), will lead a research team to apply the traditional studio model of teaching and learning to computing sciences. Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced support of the project with an 18-month, $200,000 grant.
“At NJIT, we’ve already seen the studio design method of instruction improve learning in our architecture school as well as in a biomedical program in the Newark College of Engineering,” said Jabi. “This project allows us to study the effect of casual interactions and ubiquitous computing on creativity and innovation in interdisciplinary design studios.” Ubiquitous or pervasive computing refers to environments in which human-computer interaction moves away from desktop computers to mobile devices, such as cell phones which are more easily accessible.
"The studio model of teaching and learning has worked well for years in design disciplines,” said Jabi. “We are investigating if the same model works well for students in other disciplines, such as information systems (IS) and information technology (IT). We will also test the hypothesis that creativity and innovation can be enhanced through interdisciplinary work and that a ubiquitous computing environment can aid human- computer interactions."
The research will explore design-based studio models of teaching and investigate the benefits of interdisciplinary design-centered studio-based education on students' ability to identify and solve real-world problems. Creativity will be stimulated by emphasizing a design-thinking approach, semester-long design projects and real-world problem-solving in an interactive environment, supporting the free exchange of ideas.
"We believe that ubiquitous computing technologies will blend the digital, physical, and social spaces into a single socio-computing learning space that will fundamentally improve students' creativity," said Jabi. A key characteristic of these studios is the use of large-screen context-aware interactive displays installed in the interconnected-studios and across the campus to facilitate the exchange of information between students enrolled in studios and the university community.
Jabi will develop guidelines for design-based studio implementations to provide more solid evidence of the effectiveness of the studio-based approaches to creativity in computer sciences.
"Our goal is to define a novel educational model that can be replicated nationally," Jabi said. "This model will ensure that our students think more creatively about real-world problems and are able to leverage collaborative technologies that work face-to-face and remotely."
Other researchers include Cristian Borcea, PhD; Quentin Jones, PhD and Katia Passerini, PhD, all assistant professors at NJIT and Elizabeth Churchill, PhD, senior research scientist, Yahoo! Research.
Jabi’s research focuses on computer-supported collaborative design and is changing how architecture is taught. He experiments with high bandwidth and the Internet2 to enhance distributed design reviews. In his classes, students and invited remote jurors often use video-conferencing and application-sharing software to critique student designs. Since the information is shared across the network, the remote jurors can be located anywhere when they review student designs. Professors may also use computerized digital tablets to annotate the designs. Such a setup uses an interactive computer system for real-time sharing and annotation of presentations, direct manipulation of shared 3D virtual models and real-time video and audio conferencing.
Since 2005, Jabi has been president of the Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), the main group in North America for educators and researchers working in computer-aided architectural design. Other ACADIA posts he has held include editor of the quarterly journal; conference chair (2001) and editorial board member of the International Journal of Architectural Computing. His accomplishments have included organizing an annual conference, publishing the group’s proceedings, book and newsletter, conducting a design competition and more. Jabi received his PhD and MS in architecture from the University of Michigan and his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the American University of Beirut.