Enhancing learning for construction industry professionals with a 4-dimensional digital learning environment

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 38: Learning for Life and Work in a Complex World

July, 2015, 528 pages
Published by
T. Thomas, E. Levin, P. Dawson, K. Fraser & R. Hadgraft

Work-integrated learning has been suggested as a means to apply and learn disciplinary knowledge and skills in a real-world context. Tensions exist, however, between opportunities afforded by the workplace and the demands of placing large student cohorts in that workplace while ensuring equitable learning experiences and pedagogical rigour. This suggests there are opportunities to explore alternative approaches to providing the benefits of work-integrated learning through simulated real-life contexts. This paper reports on preliminary results from an Office for Learning and Teaching funded project that investigates this issue. The project involves the development of an interactive multi- disciplinary digital learning environment based on time-lapse 3-dimensional (4D) photographic images and other resources associated with the design and construction of the University of Queensland’s Advanced Engineering Building. The 4-dimensional environment provides a realistic context for a variety of immersive learning scenarios designed to facilitate a flow of learning experiences that deepen conceptual thinking and enhance critical judgement. An initial learning environment prototype has been trialled and assessed using observational studies and informal feedback mechanisms. In an action learning process, trial results will be fed back into further pilot studies of the environment in 2015. Results indicate that the 4-dimensional learning environment is flexible in terms of its use across different learning activities and disciplines, and that it enhances the learning experience in terms of developing observation, reflection and collaboration skills.

Keywords: digital learning environments, immersive learning scenarios, construction industry