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How Gamification Can Transform Architecture Education
The Age of Digitalization began nearly 40 years ago with the rise of information technology. With it came massive changes in the way humans interacted and industries operated — that is, with the exception of the education field. For the longest time, in spite of continuously evolving technologies around us, classroom learning remained the same. A teacher stood addressing students, imparting knowledge through conventional methods of reading, orating, and chalkboard drawing. This has also been true for architecture education so far. But times are changing. Today’s students have grown up with digital technologies around them and therefore can benefit from new learning methods, such as gamification, to challenge their intellects.
Mastering Architectural Niches Through Gamification
Gamification is the technique of integrating elements found in games–such as role-play, challenges, levels, and rewards–into real-world activities. Studies have shown that applying gamification techniques in education allows students to exploit their creativity to imagine real-life situations within a virtual simulation, in addition to increasing learning motivation. In a field as technical and design-oriented as architecture, this hands-on approach to learning seems almost imperative.
One of the new-age proponents of the gamification method is Oneistox – a US- and India-based learning platform for architects, designers, and engineers. The platform has been known to use the ‘white-hat’ gamification technique, which works through positive reinforcement.
Oneistox has emerged as the first and only digital learning platform to employ gamification for teaching Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM has widely been said to be the “next big thing” in architecture. It is a methodology that brings together all information needed to conceptualize, create, and manage a project in a digital space.
For a few years now, BIM has been one of the most in-demand and highest paying niche in the architecture industry. In spite of this, learning BIM remains inaccessible to most architects due to it not being included in B.Arch curriculums.
A Revolutionary Approach to Learning BIM
Since its founding in 2019, Oneistox has been developing a pedagogy involving gamification in order to make BIM knowledge more accessible to young professionals.
Learners enrolled in their ‘BIM Professional Course’ are taken through a live simulation of a real-life residential project that follows the RIBA framework. During this simulation, learners design BIM solutions while taking instructions from a client and BIM Manager as well as collaborating amongst themselves to see the project to fruition.
The course is designed with the intention of preparing young professionals to kickstart their careers in the BIM field. It therefore begins with rigorous training in popular BIM software such as Revit, Dynamo, Navisworks, BIM 360, Cove.tool etc. Students also learn BIM concepts and methodology with guidance from expert mentors.
A live simulation project follows, in which learners pick their avatars and assume the roles of either a ‘BIM Architect’ or ‘BIM Engineer’. This is also where the premise is set, as is typically done in role-playing or fantasy games. Learners are told that they are now part of a fictional BIM-consulting company, and have been selected to serve a particular client. In doing this, learners take ownership of their career goals and feel determined to move ahead in the simulation.
As the simulation progresses, they are educated in detail about the stages of the RIBA framework and also about what an ISO standard is, and what LOD is. Learners are then given a set of tasks which they must complete in order to “unlock” further RIBA stages. For instance, if they complete all of the tasks in the Concept Design stage, they are able to move on to the Spatial Coordination stage, and then similarly cross over to Technical Design, then the Manufacturing stage, and so on and so forth. All of these tasks are derived from how projects happen in the real world, and include documenting the brief, budgeting, creating a BIM Execution Plan, creating models, renders and presentations for the client, performing a design analysis, etc.
Completing any task wins the learners credits, and their work is then reviewed by the mentors. It has been found that presenting BIM tasks as a challenge stimulates learners’ internal drive to make progress by letting them experience a sense of accomplishment. Moreover, with consistent feedback, they are also able to track the results of their creativity.
Finally, the aspect of interactive, cohort-based learning has proved to be excellent for building collaboration and coordination skills among learners. Being able to track each others’ progress on a common community page further drives learners to ‘level up’ their performance throughout the project.
Oneistox has presented to the world a marked shift from the usual cookie cutter approach followed in most architecture schools. It’s exciting to consider how far their new pedagogy for Digital-Era learning will transform architecture education.