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£1.25m funding available for immersive learning projects in construction

Could you develop a pilot which would enable learners in the construction industry to become immersed in an interactive learning environment? The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has opened a second call for funding applications to help solve skills challenges.

Immersive learning is the use of digital technologies such as virtual and augmented reality in training delivery.

In September 2017 CITB published research on the value, opportunities and barriers of immersive learning adoption in construction training. This funding opportunity follows from the recommendations in that report.

Training delivery and the sector as a whole is facing a number of challenges:

  • There is an ageing workforce (30% currently over 50) and potentially fewer migrant workers as a result of Brexit
  • Negative perceptions of the industry by potential new entrants
  • The need for more, ‘work-ready’ staff: 29% of businesses a part of CITB’s Employer Wave Panel (Wave 16) stated they were struggling to find suitable skills to fill professional and technical roles
  • The drive for modernisation and a workforce proficient in digital tools and processes.

The research found that immersive learning can help address these challenges in a number of ways:

  • Enhance the industry’s appeal to ‘digitally-native’ audiences through future-focused technology
  • Increase the quality and coverage of training by providing experiences and environments that may not be possible via traditional methods, making students more ‘work-ready’
  • Improve levels of collaboration and problem-solving tasks that stimulate more interrogation and knowledge retention
  • Reduce cost of delivery and optimise trainers’ time by improving tutor / student ratios and freeing up time for more technical aspects.

In terms of successful application, the research identified the following common critical success factors:

  • Developing a robust business case for using technology in training – such as how it saves trainer resource or improves student outcomes – and monitoring impacts
  • Starting with a clear problem or opportunity prior to defining the technology
  • Developing working relationships between education, employers and technology companies
  • Deploying a solution as a ‘blended learning’ approach to complement existing approaches
  • Building in-house knowledge and capability
  • Recognising the link with immersive learning technology for training and its use in work processes.

Those deploying immersive learning are seeing the benefits. However, to encourage wider and more cost-effective adoption there is a need to address some challenges. These include:

  • Limited awareness and understanding of what immersive technology is and what it can achieve
  • Among non-users, uncertainty over the benefits and return on investment of immersive learning
  • Lack of internal technology and content capabilities and limited links to experts in other sectors
  • Fragmented and non-standardised development and application across industry -resulting in duplication and variations in quality.

Given these challenges, coordinated intervention is required to facilitate wide-scale successful realisation of immersive learning benefits.

Structured_Immersive-learning-2_Guidance_Draft-1 (3) Download the application notes here

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