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Logging on

The students' log book is now online. Is this a technological gimmick or a recipe for better work experience?

The RIBA has 'responded to student demand' for an online Personal Experience and Development Record (PEDR) to replace the existing hardcopy log book. The RIBA states that additional demand for this electronic log comes from Part 3 examiners who are currently 'struggling to decipher student handwriting'.

Up until now, the student had to fill in a sheet of tick boxes; the new system is billed as 'a new approach to recording professional work experience and a student's learning in the workplace'.

The essence is straightforward.

Every three months, the student completes the log including contemporaneous comments by his/her tutor and the ubiquitous self-assessment. Judi Farren-Bradley, deputy head of architecture at Kingston University and member of the Part 3 Review Task Force, says the online PEDR is just part of a change in the way architectural education will be evaluated, offering 'staging posts. . .

mentoring guidance. . . a way of saying 'how's it going?'' The forms now include headings such as: 'What do you think you have learnt. . . over the last three months?'; 'What do you aim to achieve?'; or the classic 'How would you evaluate your performance?'

Being online is a means to ensure that the log is regularly filled in. But surely everybody, except a lucky few with a broad range of practice experience, fiddles their log book. Surely that is part of the initiation process;

getting key survival skills in the art of manipulating bureaucracy? As David Dunster, Roscoe professor of architecture at the University of Liverpool School of Architecture, says: 'You simply need to make sure that your ticks line up diagonally.'

So does this represent anything more than a gimmick? Dunster's concerns are deeper: 'Today's log book is practically the same document that I filled out back in the early '70s, ' he says. Conversely, 'actual architectural practice has been transformed out of all recognition' in that time.

Pamela Edwards, head of professional education with the RIBA, says this new format is principally intended to deal with this to identify where students in employment are not getting their well-rounded experience.

It is a 'record of achievement [which]. . . will actually widen the breadth of student training'.

The shift to an online facility focuses on a partnering relationship between student, the employer and the relevant governing university.

Curiously, such is the tenuous relationship of trust, that each party has to sign up to a training agreement, 'providing all parties with a better sense of their commitments and challenges'. Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better?

The new PEDR is available on www. pedr. co. uk and costs £15.28 (inclusive of VAT) per year.

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