Discoveries from students' interactions with an immersive learning application
Immersive learning applications in chemical and process engineering are creating the opportunity to bring the complexity of entire process plants to the student. While meant to complement field trips, in some cases, this is the only opportunity for students to engage with certain industrial sites due to site regulations (health and safety, hygiene, intellectual property, etc.). An immersive learning application, representing a milk powder process plant, is used to test the students’ affinity to these types of learning supplements. Further the students’ learning outcomes are investigated and are compared to traditional course material. The application tightly integrates a number of different “views” of the process plant, such as panorama photographs, process flow diagrams, piping and instrumentation diagrams and 3D plant maps. The individual “views” are connected via a text module which allows the identification of equipment and enables the user to gain a deeper understanding of the process. This paper compares the application’s impact on learning outcomes to that of traditional course material in an introductory design course. We found that lower GPA students, studying the immersive learning application, scored significant higher marks than their counterparts, studying the traditional course material. For higher GPA students, no difference was observed. The learning style preferences of the individual students are also assessed and are utilised to rationalise the findings. Further survey results are included for a case study with a different group of students where the immersive learning application is used to create a virtual field trip in a classroom environment.