The construction industry must do more to develop graduates with the practice-ready skills they need to play an immediate and effective role in the workplace. Situated learning offers a particular orientation to teaching and learning that privileges a process of direct personal engagement in and observation of practice. However, it is becoming increasingly impractical to offer direct student exposure to the broad practices of construction technology in a realistic setting. The Situation Engine is an application that provides for specific and managed virtual experiences to be made available to students using emerging digital technologies.
This program of research is developing and testing the capabilities of advanced virtual reality (VR) technologies to deliver authentic learning experiences to large student cohorts. The core VR technology is a leading first-person shooter video game engine (Unreal Engine 4©). The base engine uses high performance graphics to render moving photorealistic scenes in real time 3D, with associated surround sound audio and tactile feedback to the user. Applications are characterised by the use of an avatar which allows the user to see and be seen as a person would conventionally occupy a space (ie. bound to one's own body), and to do this in concert with multiple other users. Artificial intelligence and social dynamics are also incorporated to provide additional agency and group behaviour renditions as required.
The Situation Engine has been developed to provide a range of bespoke situation contexts and related functionality, including interactive site tools, performance analytics, and automated assessment of competency. Related resources have also been developed and provided as a comprehensive Situational eLearning package that includes SeLAR - an open and adaptive repository specific to the built environment.
We see a broad and compelling scope for the application of The Situation Engine to help develop and evaluate competencies for students and practitioners. Prototype applications have already been developed in areas such as safe work practices, material storage, building regulations, site security, environmental protection, wet-weather hazards, noise pollution, etc.
This project is a collaboration between UNSW Australia, University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, and Western Sydney University.
Support for this project has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.
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