For most of the spring 2020 semester, students at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) have been working from home, with courses administered online through the College’s MOODLE system. While results have varied among the individual courses, at least one instructor reports that her students have exceeded her expectations despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instructor Valentine Talamoni teaches Residential Planning and Design (ADT 190), one of the courses in the ASCC Trades & Technical Department. The course aims to familiarize students with graphic standards in technical drafting, room layout techniques and building orientation in relation to an environment using AutoCAD software. This semester, Talamoni tasked her students with creating a residential home plan and design which would visually communicate their assessment and ideation in designing a residential home for a client, complete with a floor plan and an exterior view of all four sides of it. Talamoni explained that the class format consists of three weeks of initial lectures, followed by a client programming and schematic stage, then moving on to floor plan formulation, exterior design, and design development, all of which culminate in a completed home design which the students can present to a client.
With the semester now nearing its end, Talamoni expressed enthusiasm for the results of the ADT 190 class projects. “I’m very proud of the students’ efforts and what they have produced,” she said. “They brought different components together in designing a whole conceptual building, despite the given limitations of working mostly from home. As a whole, the class integrates lessons and demonstrations, and then how to use a computer to organize information gathered from a client. In this way, ADT 190 utilizes the study of human personality and behaviorism, along with building regulations, planning and design to conceptualize a living space that meets a client’s personal needs.”
Several of the ADT 190 students echoed their instructors’ enthusiasm with the class this semester. “I took ADT 190 as a prerequisite for my major, and because I was just excited to know more about architecture,” said Alamai Fulu, 19, a major in Architectural Drafting. “I always wanted to learn more about using AutoCAD and the various aspects of buildings such as the layout and floor plans. This course fulfilled all my aspirations and helped me develop my drawing skills on AutoCAD. Now I know this area isn't the easiest, but I can certainly achieve my goal with the right mentor, instructor, colleagues and resources.”
“I had already learned how to draft by hand in ADT 150 and to use AutoCAD in ADT 160, so residential planning and design was my next step,” reflected Henry Aiava, also 19 and an Architectural Drafting major. “I wanted to get better at designing floor plans, taking into consideration how the arrangement of the rooms and furniture affects mobility and accessibility. I also want to understand the characteristics of floor and elevation plans in different architectural styles.”
While both instructor Talamoni and her ADT 190 students reported more than satisfactory results, given the necessary transition to an online learning environment, the achievements did not come without challenges. “As a TTD instructor, the transition proved to be very hard,” said Talamoni. “TTD courses typically consist of about 85% hands-on demonstration using special equipment and tools not commonly found on island, along with some computer software. To comply with the COVID 19, restrictions, students stayed home while TTD instructors still reported on campus to schedule and conduct online demonstrations and coordinate with students by any means necessary. Amid this change, many students made the effort to meet online for class, but some found it difficult to manage their time or cope with constant disruptions at home. It’s been a struggle, but it’s made preparations more flexible and has allowed me to do some of my own work from home.”
Talamoni, who serves as TTD Chairperson under Director Frederick R. Suisala, hopes her ADT 190 students will use the exemplary work they did this semester as a springboard to future accomplishments. “I would tell them, ‘Don’t stop here’,” she said. “I hope they take up the challenge to extend their knowledge and skills at a higher institution. I hope they’ll spread their metaphorical wings and see the world, learn, and when they’ve accomplished their goals, they’ll return home to share their skills and knowledge to guide the next generation of eager learners, and contribute to our government, our community, our culture, and our economy.”
In addition to ADT 190, the ASCC Trades & Technical Department also offered courses in Automotive, Electrical, Plane Surveying, Geographical Information System (GIS), Welding and more. To find out more about TTD and other courses at ASCC, visit the College’s webpage at www.amsamoa.edu.