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  • Writer's pictureRakshita Soni

How to use VR for Education for future AEC professionals?


how to use VR for education

Snapshot

Traditional education in Design and Architecture has largely relied on understanding the design and spaces from looking at the 2D pictures or floor plans which often struggles to convey the full understanding of spatial relationships. The limitation of not being able to walk through a designed space leads to a gap between the concept and the overall experience of the space. 


With the introduction of VR technology for educational purposes, students and educators both now have the ability to immerse themselves in 1:1 scale, visualize and interact with elements that helps them understand the intricacies of design and spaces in detail. This immersive experience not only bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application but also enhances the learning process by understanding the real-world context of a space which is not even built.


In this post, we will look at how Faculty teaching Architecture, Design, Civil Engineering & Construction Tech at schools and universities can learn about introducing VR in their curriculum.


Key pain points faced by Educators in Design & Construction


Technical knowhow for converting 3D designs to VR

Students find it gets a spatial understanding of the designs while looking at 2D representations or floor plans. Current technologies are great at visualizing projects in 2D but lack in providing immersion which helps learn the nuances of the design process.


Logistical challenges of choosing & managing VR headsets

Most academic institutions do not have previous experience in purchasing and managing VR headsets at scale. Getting the right headset, setting it up for use in the classroom and ensuring the key workflows are enabled can be a time-consuming process which hinders the adoption of the technology.


Support for onboarding and training of faculty & students

VR/AR technology is evolving at a very fast pace with constant innovations in both hardware and software. It is difficult for faculty and students to have the latest technology in the classroom which creates a need for frequent training and onboarding sessions.


Limited budgets for software and hardware requirements

While the benefits of VR/AR in education are clear, there is still a need to create a clear case for investing in this technology. This creates a challenge where limited resources of time and money are available to implement the right tools in the classroom.


Why should Universities integrate VR Technology into the Curriculums?


Immersive VR Education


Integrating VR in education offers immense potential. Statistics show that VR training can significantly enhance learning effectiveness and retention by 76% and also reduce the time required for training up to four times as compared to traditional methods of Education. Specifically in the AEC curriculum, where the transition from 2D concepts to immersive 3D environment plays an important role in helping students understand spatial dynamics, materials, and the impacts of their design.


By using Sentio VR students have been able to:

Visualize Design Projects in 3D

 Students are getting prepared to imagine how a design translates from paper into real space, and can navigate and experience their projects in a virtual 1:1 scale environment. This direct immersion helps in understanding spatial dynamics and the aesthetic appeal of their designs.

Interact with Design Elements

Sentio VR allows students to work with elements within their designs, offering a hands-on experience with materials, lighting, and furniture placement. This interaction aids in making more informed design decisions, enhancing the quality of their projects.


Enhanced understanding of Structural details and Construction process

Sentio VR allows students to explore the intricate details of building structures and the construction process. By navigating through virtual models, they gain a comprehensive understanding of how components fit together, the sequencing of construction activities, and the challenges faced on-site.


Present Projects in a Dynamic Way

When it comes time to present their work, students can take their professors on a virtual tour of their projects. This method of presentation provides a more comprehensive view of their designs, showcasing their skills and creativity and providing instant feedback in real-time.


Real-time collaboration

A real world example of students at TUT University using Sentio VR to collaborate and refine their designs immersively.


“Software like Sentio VR allows students to view and share their designs through new eyes, but it’s the mastery of VR through the navigational capabilities of the software that gives them the confidence to enter a competitive industry where tech is playing an ever-increasing role in project production and marketing”  says HOD at Tshwane University of Technology


Practical Applications of Using VR in AEC Education


Practical applications enhance the learning process by providing a realistic context for unconstructed spaces. let's take a look at some practical applications of using VR in AEC education:


  • Interior Design Students need to not only learn how to create high-quality visualizations using traditional software, but also manage the use of technology to communicate and review the designs. By learning how to render their designs in 360 environments and showcasing in VR, they can build engaging experiences and gain confidence in their skills in a competitive industry.


  • Architecture Most students learn CAD/CAM using tools like SketchUp which is great to quickly get started with learning 3D design. The ability for faculty and students to elevate the design review to VR in 1:1 scale and leverage real-time collaboration for learning can greatly improve the spatial understanding in Architecture schools.


  • Civil Engineering For students learning Revit, the ability to quickly experience the BIM designs in Virtual Reality, take quick measurements, view BIM data, turn on/off different categories enables familiarity with their designs that is difficult to achieve by screen sharing or viewing on a flat screen.


  • Construction Management The ability to view remote construction sites in an academic environment can be a huge enabler for students learning the details of a construction project. Use of 360 cameras to create digital twins and immersive walkthroughs of sites is a very effective way to familiarize students with job sites.


Guide to implement SENTIO VR in Education

Choose the right VR workflow for your course

By clearly identifying the use case and current software being used in the curriculum, you can define the right VR workflow for your course. For example, if you are using SketchUp or Revit for conceptual design reviews, choosing a software that offers a direct integration is important to ensure success. Similarly, a software that allows you to import 360 photos for site reviews can be a huge time-saver for construction management courses. Using Sentio, you can easily bring content from SketchUp, Revit, and 360 virtual tour softwares like Enscape, Lumion, 3ds Max and 360 cameras offering a wide range of options for different courses and workflows in the academia.


Identify the right VR headsets that solve the problem

The hardware available for Virtual Reality headsets is constantly changing. By clearly identifying the physical and virtual setup that suits the classroom, you can ensure that the investment is done correctly. In this blog, we have shared in detail the options available. Our recommendation is to opt for wireless headsets like Meta Quest 2 or 3 that offer budget-friendly options as well as mobility for use in Universities & schools.


Set up the VR devices for professional use

Institutions that have more than 2-3 headsets typically face this challenge of managing and configuring their headsets. In this blog, we have talked about the different options that can streamline the device management requirements of universities. We recommend using this option as it is a great way to save time on implementing VR applications as well as keeping track of the headsets within the organization.


Ensure onboarding and training of faculty for using VR

Learning new software and hardware can be daunting for faculty members as well as students. By ensuring constant support and onboarding via training sessions, we cut down the learning curve for educational institutions and ensure the best possible outcome for students and faculty


Adopt Collaborative Learning through Immersive VR

VR technology offers a highly collaborative learning environment which allows students to work in small groups within the same virtual model. Sentio VR allows multiple participants to collaborate in real-time immersively, which therefore enables students to review their designs, add annotations and notes to capture feedback, with educators or peers, do walkthroughs together, identify and address design issues.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the use of VR in Education with tools like Sentio VR in architectural and construction education represents a major step forward. It moves us from traditional learning methods that rely on 2D drawings to a more engaging, hands-on approach. With tools like Sentio VR, students can now immerse themselves in the designs they create, gaining a real understanding of space, structure, and design elements before anything is built. 


The practical uses of Sentio VR in universities are clear: from visualizing entire projects in 3D to enhancing real-time collaboration in classrooms. VR is setting a new standard of education and preparing future professionals in architecture, engineering, and construction.


Ready to transform your AEC curriculum with immersive learning? Contact our team today and discover the power of VR in Education

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