Spatial Planning Seminar:
Technology Enhanced
Blended Learning
Spatial Planning: TOPICS and PROCESS

The seminar Spatial Planning (Raumordnung/Raumplanung, LV-Nr. 825075 SS 2012 ) at the University of Innsbruck, is planned for an initial two-day block to start us off, followed by a with somewhat experimental web-based seminar with on-line distance learning (eLearning) support in between.

How it is supposed to work:

The mechanism and scheduling of the seminar: we start with a two day block that introduces how this seminar is supposed to run, including the web-based eLearning and communication components (anywhere, anytime, at your own pace), on-line modeling tools - and introduces the main topics, defining scope and a common language.

As a first step, register with the on-line tools, the eLearning platform and an on-line discussion forum.

There are two simple questionnaires to complete, no test or anthing related to "performance": just to compile suggestions, and a basic scan of attitudes.

Using the web-based CourseWare eLearning platform, participants are supposed to go through a number of on-line "lecture units" that introduce specific topics and concepts, provide some background, and any number of questions, challenges, and (optional) assignments.

Participants are expected to discuss these on-line in a discussion forum;

You are supposed to pick any one of the topics and discuss it in a short "term paper", submit a draft, discuss it in the forum, and submit a final version towards the end. The more discussion and feedback, the better.

Evaluation is based on active participation; the computer keeps track, counting access, lectures "done", posts to the discussion forum, and a few more optional activities, plus the final term paper (key is submitting it, on time, end of June ?!).

The current student evaluation and standing is always accessible on-line ....

As a seminar this is expecting active student participation: Based on the initial "lecture units" each introducing a specific topic, you are asked to prepare, and submit for discussions on the web-based discussion forum, reactions to the topic of the lecture unit and any explicit (self chosen) assignments.

Lectures are supported by a (on-line, what else) collection of literature in PDF format, (PDF format Background Reading for on-line browsing, download, and review/comments (extra Brownie points for a good ABSTRACT !) to the discussion board.   The discussion of the topics is supported by:

  • an on-line web-based discussion board, where users can also generate their own topics and threads; make sure you "subscribe", so you will get eMail notification on all new posts !
  • an embedded management system for questions and comments: each slide or page unit in the lectures offers the possibility to submit a comment or questions, to which answers and comments (by other students or the lecturer [visibility to others can be restricted]) can be posted; questions and any comments are "announced" by eMail.

    To get our terminology organized, there is also an on-line GLOSSARY for terms and concepts; part of your expected activity is to check it, edit, discuss definitions you disagree with, and add new terms.

The assignments are supported by on-line modeling tools, starting with a dynamic land use change model (LUC) that can be used to test a few ideas on urban development and material and energy budgets.

Beyond the active participation in the series of lectures and discussions, students can elect to prepare and submit a "term paper" (extra brownie points) on any one of the proposed "challenges/questions" or a self-defined comparable topic.

TOPICS: a list to start with

  1. Some definitions: what is Spatial Planning?, how does it work, regulatory and political background;
  2. Land use planning:: two examples of land use planning guidelines and a "Whitebook", based on FAO guidelines and a South African Policy paper;
  3. Criteria, objectives, constraints: how can we describe the object (space) and the goals and targets, instruments and outcomes, impacts, of spatial planning: what do we want ? How can we measure these concepts, and thus progress, to evaluate and select policies, plans, projects ?
  4. Modeling: processing measurable criteria: model basics;
  5. Land Use Change modeling: trying to model land use change: can we explain and reproduce it, get some plausible behavior ?
    • this is a key components, using a hands-on on-line model system, so we dedicate three units: (1) introduction and basics; (2) building scenarios (3) evaluation, impact assessment
  6. Environmental and strategic impact assessment: taking the simple assessment from the land use modeling a step further: impact assessment as a key element of any planning;
  7. Sustainability: the overriding concept of European territorial policy: but what EXACTLY does it mean ?
  8. Site suitability (NIMBY): a different look at : where to put it for "nuisance" infrastructure: NIMBY, not in my Backyard.
  9. Modeling impacts: emissions, noise: a final step in impact assessment: numerical models of dispersion (air pollution) and noise.

Some of the questions to explore and discuss: remember, YOU are invited to suggest topics, problems, projects that can be used as examples and case studies in one of the questionnaires !

  • How can we describe spatial structures and functions, land use: what are measurable criteria, objectives, constraints ?
  • If we know what we want (in terms of the measurable criteria), how to get there, how do we find the best place for "something" (site suitability analysis), the best mix, distribution, spatial structure of activities including transportation ?
  • What are spatial decisions, anything beyond locating (including zoning) and routing ?
  • Can we predict how the use of space will develop ? If we understand why, how can we influence it ?
  • What are the impacts of changing land use, developing spatial structures, and how to they affect (feed back on) the very land use change that caused them ?
  • How does land use, spatial structures and functions affect, and get affected by the resources we need, first and foremost, energy ?
  • What exactly means sustainability in this context as one of the main goals of spatial planning ?

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