Today, the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) released the first edition of their official digital content guidelines for accreditation visits for universities. While providing digital content is optional for NAAB visits, programs are now required to follow the protocol to ensure that visiting teams "have a good understanding of how the digital content will be organized and presented," according to the guidelines.

“This initiative is part of our investment in developing innovative ways for our teams to do their work, improve our training methods, and ultimately improve the quality of their output,” NAAB president Judith Kinnard, FAIA, said in a press release. “We will continue to make similar investments that support our goal of making accreditation less burdensome and costly to institutions, while still maintaining the rigor expected by schools and the profession.”

According to task force chair and NAAB director David Golden, Assoc. AIA, of Voith & Mactavish Architects in Philadelphia, prior to establishing these guidelines, the accreditation visiting teams were already seeing increased digital content in team rooms during program visits and, as an organization, the NAAB was also seeking ways to improve and advance the accreditation process. Over the course of five months, the team interviewed programs that had already introduced digital content to their team rooms for NAAB visits and determined some best practices for future program visits. "We didn’t want to make the guidelines a burden on programs [and force them] to go out and hire people to design some sort of interface or spend a lot of capital and time," Golden says. "So we really tried to mirror how a NAAB team reviews work physically and translate that to a digital process."

In general, the guidelines provide a framework for digital file and folder organization as well as standards for image resolution and legibility. Intended to reduce paper waste and time spent by programs prepping for NAAB visits, these new instructions are only for programs that opt to use digital content in their team rooms and will not go into effect until Fall 2017 visits. Golden does envision a point when digital content will be required for all NAAB visits but he "can't say when," and acknowledges the slow transition because of the eight-year intervals for which programs can be accredited.

"We’re continuing to interview programs using digital content and we will definitely interview programs that actually follow our guidelines so that in the future we can [develop] something that’s more holistic," Golden says.

See the full guidelines below:

Guidelines for the Use of Digital Content in Accreditation Visits by architectmag on Scribd