Today the pace of urbanisation and climate crisis calls for education to react immediately to its surroundings; young people need more than ever to be included in the production of the world to develop their role in creating the future through resilient practices, agency and their right to the city (Lefebvre 1968). This paper will explore the potential for a hybrid digital place-based pedagogical design methodology based on the learnings from a Participatory Action Research project co-produced with NGO Muktangan School in Mumbai, India between 2012-2017 (Antaki 2021). The interdisciplinary research between design and education used live project architectural methods along with critical pedagogical and co-design techniques to involve young people in designing their environment, facilitated by designers. The aim was to increase their role in the production of their environment, develop practices of citizenship and agency, and foster publicly engaged practices. Place-based education (Gruenewald and Smith 2008) adapts to pressing issues so that young people learn how to sustainably create change. In addition, design has the potential to empower children to challenge development and social injustice (Hart 1995). Digital place-based learning applications are developing, especially in the form of games (Godwin-Jones 2016). We have learnt from the current pandemic that digital tools can cultivate creative forms of collaboration, but can also be limiting, highlighting unequal digital resources that create disadvantages and divides both in the Global North and South (Anand and Lall 2021). However a digital application as a hybrid (both digital and real world) future teaching tool can facilitate interdisciplinary dynamic environmental co-making, combining digital and face-to-face methods of communication in an innovative, fruitful way. This paper investigates and builds on emerging literature around place-based digital learning/teaching tools, exploring opportunities for development of place-based hybrid pedagogies, particularly those that respond to SDG 4.7 Education for Sustainable Development (UNESCO 2016), integrating environmental design into the school curriculum in collaboration with universities.
Dr Nicola Antaki is an architect and researcher specialising in learning, co-design and design for social change. Her work investigates the potential for the city to be a classroom and design to be a teacher. She is currently a WRDTP ESRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sheffield School of Architecture, UK. In Mumbai, India and London, UK her work investigates participatory practices and collective design approaches in architecture, both in her research for schoolchildren to (re)design their environment, and in London architectural practice (including Turner Works, We Made That and Cottrell and Vermeulen Architecture). She holds a PhD in Architectural Design from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Development Planning Unit at UCL (2019). Her Collective Design Pedagogy research won the UCL Public Engagement Award in 2018, and she was shortlisted for the RIBA President’s Award in the Cities and Community category in 2021.