Immersive Learning in Construction – What’s It All About?

Immersive Learning in Construction – What’s It All About?

25th October 2017

We’ve said before just how important it is that the construction industry adopts new technology of all kinds.  Our sector has been a bit of a laggard when it comes to digital technology and other new types of technology but the advent of BIM changed that and brought the construction industry (some say “kicking and screaming”) into the 21st Century.  The latest new technology to hit the industry is immersive learning so today we’re going to make sure our readers are familiar with this latest trend. 

Firstly, what does immersive learning mean?  Basically, it means placing individuals in an interactive learning environment (either physically or virtually, with the use of technology) to replicate possible scenarios or to teach and develop specific skills and techniques.  Immersive learning harnesses the power of simulations, role play and virtual learning environments in order to offer a more intuitive and effective way of learning.  Immersive learning has been hailed as the “future of training” for the construction industry.

Immersive learning enables students to become fully involved in a digital, interactive environment and gain an almost real experience of a situation.  For example, trainees can practise crane manoeuvres, climb wind turbines or visualise a detailed and precise 3D build of a skyscraper without leaving the training room. 

According to a new report from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) clearly demonstrates how using immersive learning can be a cost-efficient way for employers and training providers to address the skills shortage by attracting more youngsters into the construction sector.  The report features interviews with 36 industry stake holders and contains ten examples of best practice when it comes to using immersive learning as a teaching method.

The construction industry literally has hundreds of specific career choices that would benefit from the adoption of immersive learning.  There are so many different job roles within the industry that the skills shortage we currently face in the UK presents overwhelming challenges.  Immersive learning and virtual reality are poised to bring undreamed of benefits to the construction industry in the future.

Young people are usually the early adopters of new technology and many will be familiar with virtual reality headsets through gaming activities.  Now, we can envision VR headsets being used to enable a student to project an electrical wiring design onto the interior shell of a real building.  Or simulation could be used to involve several people to collaborate on an activity – such as a crane operator, a crane supervisor and a banksman, all working from different screens to achieve a specific aim.

It’s also easier for learners to see the fruits of their labours with immersive learning systems, tracking progress in much the same way as kids track their games stats when playing computer games.  It’s also a great way for teachers to ascertain which students would benefit from some targeted support in order to increase the development of skills.

This is an exciting  but challenging time for the construction industry as a whole as we strive to make this sector more appealing to young people and encourage more school leavers to choose a career in construction.