MOOC Project to Design Resilient Schools for the Philippines

New York and Berlin, 4 December 2013 - Online Course to Crowdsource Designs for Schools in Typhoon-struck Region in Collaboration with the Department of Education of the Philippines and Architecture for Humanity to Build the Best Design Proposals

In support of the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the Open Online Academy (, founded by Ivan R. Shumkov, PhD, an architect and professor based in New York, and, the European platform for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), announce the launch of the online course “Designing Resilient Schools”. The MOOC, starting on 16 December, aims to crowdsource architectural projects for typhoon-resilient schools in the affected area, where 4,500 schools have been destroyed by the massive storm. According to the Department of Education of the Philippines (DepEd), the schools need to be rebuilt in the first phase of the region’s reconstruction process because school buildings serve not only as classrooms, but also as community centres and as mass shelters when a typhoon strikes.

Dr. Shumkov will cooperate closely with Illac Diaz, president of Architecture for Humanity in the Philippines, a nonprofit organisation set up to promote architecture and design and find solutions to global social and humanitarian crises. Diaz will serve as an assistant professor in the online course and coordinate the on-site implementation of the project after the course. DepEd has also agreed to provide support in putting the proposals into practice.

Dr. Shumkov comments: “We cannot prevent nor escape the severity of natural disasters. But there’s a lot that we as architects can do to improve the capacity of buildings to resist hazardous events like Typhoon Haiyan. Resiliency is essential in architecture, and we can contribute to helping the victims of natural disasters and reducing the risks in case of future disasters.”

In the MOOC, online students – especially architects, urban planners, engineers and other professionals – are requested to design concepts for school buildings that can resist heavy storms. Course participants will get a general introduction to disaster-resilient and sustainable architecture and to school design, and also to the current situation in the Philippines through video lectures. After the presentation of the requirements and design guidelines, a team of professors, consultants and other specialists from the nonprofit Harvard Architectural and Urban Society Alumni organisation ( will guide the work of the students.

In the next step, teams and working groups organised around the best submissions will further elaborate on the design proposals, aided by constant feedback from their professors, local advisers from the Philippines, and fellow students. A jury of international architects and local authorities will evaluate the submissions and choose those that hold the greatest potential. DepEd and the Architecture for Humanity chapter in Manila will then put the best designs into practice. In addition, the designs developed in the course will be published on the website Open Online Architecture (, making them available for reuse as open-source projects in other disaster areas.

“Using the format of a MOOC enables us to gather the ingenuity of architects, engineers, planners, and other professionals from all over the world. We can find sustainable solutions for an offline, real-world problem by setting up international expert communities very quickly – almost immediately after a disaster has struck,” says Hannes Klöpper, co-founder and managing director of iversity.

About iversity is an online platform for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). iversity supports universities and professors in seizing the opportunities that online teaching offers. On, professors can share their knowledge with thousands of students at once. In online courses given by renowned professors, students from all over the world can access academic education.

About Open Online Academy

Open Online Academy ( is a New York-based organisation for online education in design and related fields. It offers free design education to anyone anywhere in the world, using digital technology to provide open access to advanced knowledge and skills. It welcomes to its community anyone who is passionate about teaching and learning.

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