Relevance of the OCW Model

We have been discussing on ways of incorporating the OCW model to deliver educational materials to the North Koreans. Increasingly, universities are using various forms of OCW to share information with the public, where lectures are posted as webcasts and Columbia University even has clips on iTune U for download. While the model provides cost savings through distance learning, there are certain issues, which include the learning culture in DPRK and the specificity of the taught subject that needs to be address in order for it to be relevant to the North Koreans. These various concerns will be addressed using the architectural discipline as an example. Learning Culture

The architectural discipline is largely dependent on the learning culture rather than pure knowledge, which means that even if we have all the information made readily available for the North Koreans, students may find it hard to apply to their context. For example, lectures on digital fabrication in architecture would not be relevant if there are no equipments available to produce these prototypes. Furthermore, even if equipments are available, students may not use it if the university’s learning culture is not in digital fabrication design. This is the case for many Asian universities where advanced fabrication equipments are underutilized because it is not part of the university’s culture to pursue such research.

Specificity of Subject

Furthermore, the architectural discipline is extremely vast and loosely defined, for example, a person's interest can range from the philosophical and political nature of architecture to the cutting edge construction techniques. The various DPRK universities together with the Paektusan Academy of Architecture are already producing architects who can perform the basic tasks of an architect. Therefore, we are hoping to value add to their education through introducing a wide range of subjects while tailoring to suit DPRK’s context.

Joint Research Studio

To ensure the relevancy of the OCW model, perhaps it would be most effective to establish a joint research studio between North Korean architecture students and a partnering university researching on a specific aspect of DPRK architecture. Through this common research topic, theoretical knowledge and technical skills can be transferred in the most relevant way. Examples of such twinning architectural research programs include collaboration between Tsinghua and Penn, or Tongji and Yale, where students spend a couple of weeks at each university to share their research.