Virtual collaboration in the built environment

Throughout the 2013 to 2014 academic year, three institutions have been collaborating in the education of three cohorts of students through the BIM Hub project ; these are Coventry University and Loughborough University in the UK and Ryerson University in Canada. Students formed groups of six individuals, two from each university, including architects, construction engineers and project managers. The project was designed to create an authentic simulation of industrial collaboration and practices. At Coventry participation was optional (students had the alternative of forming collaboration with other Coventry students). At Ryerson and Loughborough participation was mandatory. They were set a project to design and plan a building for a particular site in Coventry through forming online collaboration, and reflect on their experiences. The study was funded by the Higher Education Academy in the UK with the intention of identifying which success factors led to effective online collaboration and is a follow-up to a previous project sponsored by the Hewlett Packard Catalyst Program (Soetanto, et al, 2014). Focus groups were conducted with the students at the institutions, the following analysis focuses on the issues faced and solutions identified in terms of the technologies involved and the strategies for successful collaboration. The analysis focuses on two of the universities and offers reflections based on their experience.