Happy New Year and welcome back as 2017 gets off to an exciting start. I hope everyone was able to engage with a landscape, see/hear/experience something new, and enjoy a relaxing and refreshing holiday break. It’s promising to be another big year!
As school kids all over Australia enjoy the last few days of summer holidays and many high school graduates get ready to start university, educators are busy shaping up their course plans for the new year. The significance of the years spent in formal education—from primary school through university—can’t be overstated. These years are when we learn the fundamentals of science and the arts, and the skills of reading, writing, and maths. They also influence how we continue to learn and engage with the world throughout our lives. Perhaps even more important than what we learn during those years of formal education, is how we learn to learn.
In landscape architecture, as with other design-based professions, the knowledge base we work with expands constantly along with the technological advances associated with designing and building landscapes. Working with dynamic and living materials to create evolving systems, we must continually anticipate and adapt to change. Moreover, we design for people whose needs and aspirations also frequently change. Consequently, staying current with professional knowledge and skills, learning from the environments we working with, and comprehending our clients and communities is vital. This is why continuing professional development and lifelong learning is so essential.
AILA’s National Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Committee is committed to ensuring that members have access to programs for staying current with the knowledge required to maintain registration and practice landscape architecture effectively throughout their careers. The Committee is developing a strategy and policy for content development, program delivery, and reporting of CPD activities. Examples of these are the two events already on the calendar for early 2017: a technical session in Hobart on 28 February, and another one in Brisbane on 2 March, “Buildings that Breathe”.
While CPD is required for us to maintain our professional credentials, lifelong learning is an individual choice about how, what and when you want to expand your knowledge. You do it, not because you have to, but because of your personal commitment to your profession. As Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO, global design consultancy, comments: “…lifelong learners (are) interested in amplifying their craft — whether they’re doctors, engineers, designers, researchers, filmmakers, architects. These are motivated leaders who want to stay nimble and sharp, and are finding ways to do it despite their busy schedules.” (www.designthinking.ideo.com/?p=1435).
No matter what stage you’re at in your professional career, there is an array of possibilities for participating in lifelong learning. Online options make it much easier for practitioners in regional.
areas or for those unable to attend after-working-hours activities. At one end of the spectrum are thousands of videos of conference, seminar and university presentations on YouTube. Professional institutes and industry bodies that require CPD also upload content, often provided by suppliers or developed by the organisation themselves. If you need a “how to” tutorial on specific software or a course on digital photography, business or web design, lynda.com has a video library with over 5500 highly rated courses. At the top end of the range are full-scale courses, often offered by universities. Known as MOOCs (Massive Online Open Course), these can be free or charged per course. A local example is UNSW’s free, six-week program, “Re-enchanting the City: Designing the Human Habitat”, supported by online education company, FutureLearn.
If you’re looking for inspiration, there are 2000+ TEDTalks available on all sorts of topics, or you might sign up for one of IDEO’s online courses to expand your capacity for creative thinking and collaboration. For people thinking about a shift in career direction or further developing a specific skill, new online options offering “microcredentialing” or “nanodegrees” can be undertaken one-by-one to suit your individual needs and aspirations, and to work with your available time and resources.
While you’re deciding which online course or program to undertake in pursuit of continuing professional development and lifelong learning, here are two opportunities from AILA you can commit to straight away:
- Signed up and follow Foreground (www.foreground.com.au), AILA’s digital communications partner. This is the site for the latest commentary on “cities, places and the people who make them”, and…
- Plan ahead and register for the 2017 AILA International Festival of Landscape Architecture and Conference in Sydney, 12-15 October, “The Third City”. Program details and early bird registration will be opening soon!
It is a crucial time for landscape architects to stay curious, informed, and actively engaged with issues facing our cities: expanding populations and rapid urbanisation, growing impacts of climate change, concern for diminishing human health, ensuring the quality of natural and built environments. In order to influence how these complex problems are addressed, we need to be prepared with the knowledge—about science, technology, politics, design, culture—and the personal skills of vision, creativity, collaboration and problem solving. Committing to a program of continuing professional development and lifelong learning will enhance these capacities…and it’s an excellent way to kick off 2017!