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Digitech can transform the teaching of construction

Generation raised on gaming are ideally placed to benefit from immersive learning, says a new report from the CITB

Posted by Julian Owen | October 08, 2017 | Business

Immersive learning has the potential to revolutionise training delivery, produce “work ready” employees and transform the perception of the construction sector, says a new report from CITB.

A New Reality: Immersive Learning in Construction” shows how the use of digital technologies such as virtual and augmented reality can produce workers with greater ability and help modernise the industry.

Immersive learning allows students to be fully involved in an interactive, digital environment. It means trainees can, for example, practise crane manoeuvres, scale wind turbines, or visualise the detailed 3D build of a skyscraper without leaving the classroom.

CITB’s report, the first of its kind for the construction sector, contains 36 interviews with stakeholders and 10 best practice examples. It shows how immersive learning can be cost-effective for employers and training providers and help reduce skills shortages by attracting more young people to construction.

The report says a number of challenges must be addressed to realise immersive learning’s potential. These include: improving understanding of what immersive learning is; increasing expertise in using the technology; and avoiding fragmented training provision.

Writing in the report’s foreword Andrew Wolstenholme OBE, Co-Chair Construction Leadership Council, said: “This report lays down the gauntlet for employers, trainers and the government to tackle key issues such as greater efficiency, skills and growth through innovation.

“It highlights the need to encourage take-up, standardise approaches and encourage collaboration between sectors, such as gaming, to develop successful applications.”


 Trainees can practise crane manoeuvres, scale wind turbines, or visualise the detailed 3D build of a skyscraper without leaving the classroom.

Steve Radley, CITB Director of Policy, said: “Immersive learning has huge potential. It can enhance construction’s appeal to a generation raised on gaming and virtual environments. It will also enable construction to compete with other sectors, such as engineering, which young people often view as an appealing industry because of its use of technology.

“Leadership, standards and collaboration are essential to harnessing the potential of this technology. We look forward to working with employers, trainers and the government to maximise the huge benefits immersive learning can bring.”

Evidence of best practice case studies in the report include: Heriot-Watt University’s series of virtual reality games and experiences, such as working from height, to immerse learners into the industry; CITB’s plant simulator facility; and Gaia Technology’s mocked-up construction site (for Liverpool John Moores Univeristy and Coleg Llandrillo Cymru).

The report outlines the opportunities immersive learning can bring to an array of stakeholders:

- For trainers, immersive technology can free-up capacity, making student assessments swifter and allowing trainers more time to focus on skills development.

- For trainees, immersive learning offers a stimulating and quick way to learn.

- For government, this new form of learning offers a chance to improve the quality, efficiency and safety of construction workers.

To view CITB’s Immersive Learning film please click here.

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