The Kepler System
Digital media have become indispensable to the design professions.
Design ideas, whether produced digitally or analogically, are shared through multiple channels on screen and in print. We believe it is critical that students become proficient in documenting and sharing their work through various media. The Kepler Review System was developed by the technical staff at the Hillier College of Architecture and Design under the premise that students, faculty and the administration would benefit equally from a transparent and continuous record of student work.
Kepler is, in part, an internet-based archiving and retrieval system used to collect all student work produced in every HCAD course each semester. In the spring of 2004, we began developing the Kepler System. After 18 months of in-house development, we beta-tested Kepler throughout the fall of 2006 and made it available to all studio-based, non-studio, and elective classes during the spring semester of 2007. In 2008, we became the first school of architecture to successfully complete a fully digital NAAB accreditation visit. We repeated this success in three other accreditation visits since then: CIDA in 2013, NAAB in 2014 and NASAD in 2015. The Kepler System is being studied by several design schools across the country as a proven method to achieve and evaluate courses and programs, and to provide a fully digital sharing platform to professional and regional accreditation bodies.
The system works by having each student - both undergraduate and graduate- upload every assignment. This requires the student to perform their own individual self-assessment and consider carefully what will constitute the record of his or her work. Kepler offers the student not only the chance to compose and post a set of final record documents of each project but to compare it in both form and content to other posted projects. This ability to compare one's work with that of their peers galvanizes students to become better designers, raising the bar on the overall quality of work produced at HCAD.
Kepler is a critical self-assessment tool for the students, faculty and administration at HCAD who are committed to improving their abilities. We recognize that an accurate qualitative assessment of the College is founded on the study of performance evidenced in student’s completed assignments. The larger the body of evidence, the clearer the view of how the College is performing and what can be improved. With a current HCAD population of over 650 students, Kepler provides a comprehensive collection of work upon which we can immediately evaluate teaching efficacy and pedagogical changes over the near and long-term.
Kepler continues to evolve both technically and socially. We continue to address concerns about wholesale plagiarism and have mechanisms in place to make some classes or projects secure, especially where graded tests and papers are the final product. The system also includes a number of features important to the quality of life of the HCAD community, including event calendars, a repository of resources, information on HCAD activities, facilities and organizations, and open discussion forums.