It is possible for civil engineering (CE) students to graduate from a degree programme without gaining experience on a construction site. The implementation of virtual field trips using virtual reality (VR) in CE education is a development that can address this phenomenon and help facilitate the consolidation of abstract theories into tangible competences. This project aims to solve a fundamental CE education problem: once a structure has been completed, it is often impossible to see how it was built; hence, how can you demonstrate the construction process to a student?
This research used the opportunity of a new campus library development to record its construction sequence. This was achieved by visiting the site eight times to take panoramic stereoscopic photos of the construction process. By its nature, using VR as a didactic tool facilitates experiential learning, but this project also incorporates discovery learning and situated cognition to develop students’ understanding of the construction process.
The use of VR in education is becoming increasingly common, but the explicit pedagogy used in these environments is rarely obvious or stated. This project draws upon current VR education discussions and explores the development of a VR environment with a pedagogical context.
The development of the VR resource draws upon the pedagogical frameworks of discovery learning (Bruner, 1961) and situated cognition (Lave and Wenger, 1991). A further unique aspect of this research is the use of stereoscopic cameras to capture the library’s construction over time.
An earlier version of this research was presented at the International Conference of Open and Innovative Learning (Walker et al., 2019), which was generously supported by the FoSE T&L Conference Grant. This research was supported by the UNNC Library, Research and Learning Resources department who generously lent their equipment and resources to take photos and build the VE. Without them, this project would not have been possible. The authors would also like to express gratitude to the computer science student Denis Stepanov who worked on designing the VE.
Walker, J., Towey, D., Pike, M., Kapogiannis, G., Elamin, A. and Wei, R. (2020), "Developing a pedagogical photoreal virtual environment to teach civil engineering", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITSE-10-2019-0069Download as .RIS
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