Purpose - This paper aims to describe the deployment of an e-learning environment for construction courses based on enhancing virtual computing technologies using agent-based techniques. Design/methodology/approach - This research involves designing and deploying a complex application that combines advanced visualisation, interactive management through complex virtual devices, distributed multi-user communication and intelligent components. The proposed agent-oriented methodology and resulting application organises construction knowledge into a structure that enables the students to undertake more self-directed, systematic and scientific exploration. Findings - There is great potential for experimenting with a wider variety of educational technologies such as "intelligent" virtual environments. This is a concept that needs further experimentation within construction courses to enrich students' learning with practice-based experiences. The use of ageny-oriented objects within simulations and modeling make the virtual learning environment a highly interactive experience. Attempts to do this using traditional intelligent tutoring systems have been frustrated by integrations challenges. Agent-based systems can handle such challenges. The agent approach is also more efficient in analysing the impact of different decisions in various scenarios by automating the execution of repetitive, time-consuming actions. Research limitations/implications - This research identifies specific gaps in the existing e-learning infrastructure that can be addressed using the intelligent agent paradigm. In particular, the research demonstrates how the notion of learning by actively exploring and controlling environmental variables can be best utilised in the selected domain by giving the learners the means to rapidly visualize the effects of their decisions. Originality/value - Construction disciplines have increasingly embraced the use of advanced visualisation applications and display systems that allow students to gain a better understanding of the construction process and the resulting facility's performance. Existing efforts are based on image visualisation or animation detailed using, for example, Virtual Reality Modeling Language and 3D Studio Max-based design animations and walkthroughs. None of these efforts has explored the use of an agent oriented, virtual tutoring approach. A comprehensive literature review established that of no formalised methodologies exist for deploying agent-based virtual learning environments.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Control and Systems Engineering
- Computer Science(all)
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Building and Construction