Developing a pedagogical photoreal virtual environment to teach civil engineering

James Walker, Dave Towey, Matthew Pike, Georgios Kapogiannis, Ahmed Elamin, Ran Wei

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: It is possible for civil engineering (CE) students to graduate from a degree programme without gaining experience on a construction site. The implementation of virtual field trips using virtual reality (VR) in CE education is a development that can address this phenomenon and help facilitate the consolidation of abstract theories into tangible competences. This project aims to solve a fundamental CE education problem: once a structure has been completed, it is often impossible to see how it was built; hence, how can you demonstrate the construction process to a student? Design/methodology/approach: This research used the opportunity of a new campus library development to record its construction sequence. This was achieved by visiting the site eight times to take panoramic stereoscopic photos of the construction process. By its nature, using VR as a didactic tool facilitates experiential learning, but this project also incorporates discovery learning and situated cognition to develop students’ understanding of the construction process. Findings: The use of VR in education is becoming increasingly common, but the explicit pedagogy used in these environments is rarely obvious or stated. This project draws upon current VR education discussions and explores the development of a VR environment with a pedagogical context. Originality/value: The development of the VR resource draws upon the pedagogical frameworks of discovery learning (Bruner, 1961) and situated cognition (Lave and Wenger, 1991). A further unique aspect of this research is the use of stereoscopic cameras to capture the library’s construction over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-321
Number of pages19
JournalInteractive Technology and Smart Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2020


  • Civil engineering education
  • Discovery learning
  • Education innovation
  • Pedagogical frameworks
  • Situated cognition
  • Virtual field trip
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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