Lessons in architecture: 3-D without leaving the classroom (or living room)

By | December 22, 2020
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Female student wearing VR headset, large monitor in the background.
(Academic Innovation)

When architecture professor Jonathan Rule wanted his students to see firsthand the way various building materials came together, he had to find a construction site near campus and arrange for the class to walk through. Finding a suitable project isn’t always feasible, not to mention the logistics and liability involved.

So with assistance over the past year from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching and the Office of Academic Innovation XR Initiative, Rule launched an effort to introduce augmented and virtual reality into his teaching. The idea couldn’t have come at a better time, as COVID-19 shut down most of the construction projects on campus and forced the university into remote and hybrid learning.

This past semester, architecture students tested a mixed reality app that provided a simulated construction experience and the ability to interact with 3D modeling and to use the technology for design. While COVID-19 has slowed full integration of the technology into his courses, Rule said future plans include a small VR lab in Taubman with VR headsets, an equipment checkout program, and the completion of additional teaching modules.