For students pursuing careers in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, learning multi-faceted skills are critical for career success. To enable this range of skill development, many schools and universities participate in student-based design and build competitions, where teams of students build actual structures to learn some of these tactile skills. While these competitions can be beneficial for learning, they can also be cost and resource intensive, which limits access to this type of learning experience. This research aims to explore the use of mixed reality as a cyberlearning technology to assess how this type of increasingly affordable technology may be able to provide a similar type of learning experience for physical construction activities. Such insights will advance the understanding of how people learn about Architecture, Engineering, and Construction topics, specifically, and with cyberlearning environments, in general. In the near term, this work will support authentic learning and skill development by leveraging emerging technologies. This approach will offer an educational experience that requires fewer resources than required for a physical design/build experience. In the long term, this study will provide a genre of cyberlearning to prepare students for careers better and faster than traditional approaches. This is especially critical because this hugely impactful industry has struggled in recent years with productivity issues; this will be further challenged as it approaches a major labor shortage. This work offers a new, and potentially more accessible, approach for preparing the next generation of Architecture, Engineering, and Construction professionals capable of improving the field.
The objective of this research is to: develop markerless mixed reality technology (using a Microsoft HoloLens®) aimed at sufficiently replicating physical design and construction learning environments to enable access to students at institutions without sufficient resources; and assess the impact of a mixed reality facilitated cyberlearning environment on promoting cognitive-, affective-, and skill-based learning that occurs during traditional (in-person) design and construction activities. Carnegie’s Three Apprenticeships –of the head, heart, and hand– serves as the theoretical underpinning for this study. The following research questions guide this study: 1) Can mixed reality sufficiently replicate the physical environment and simulate the experience of project design and construction in the building industry? 2) In what ways can a mixed reality cyberlearning environment enable access to learning experiences that are otherwise inaccessible? 3) To what extent does the mixed reality-facilitated cyberlearning environment promote the cognitive-, affective-, and skill-based learning that occurs during traditional design and construction activities? Through a collaborative partnership, the two institutions involved in this work will test this cyberlearning environment with students at two remote locations. One location includes a physical building structure for students to explore, and the other will only include the mixed reality environment. This approach will enable the research team to identify the unique value provided by mixed reality where physical presence is unavailable. Through this structured research, it will also help qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate the impacts on explicit and tacit knowledge generation through mixed reality for apprenticeship learning in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry. Ultimately, the work will provide intellectual contributions related to: advancing the development of markerless mixed reality as a cyberlearning technology; enhancing the understanding of learning related to the Three Apprenticeships model; and increasing the understanding of how students learn in a mixed reality cyberlearning environment through a structured research methodology. Findings of this research will provide empirical evidence and guidance for future research initiatives aimed at further leveraging the unique educational value provided by mixed reality.