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The best way to teach people about BIM is to show them how it works

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Context is key to convincing the late majority to adopt BIM says regular BIM+ contributor, Dan Rossiter, senior BIM communicator at BRE.

Reading John Adam’s post, Don’t get trapped in the BIM chasm, got me thinking about how we encourage the late majority and the laggards to embrace BIM. 

The problem with the majority of information that is disseminated around BIM (or any topic for that matter) is that in order to be applicable to as many professionals as possible it is usually presented in an agnostic approach discussing advantages at a high level. While this may be the most efficient way to disseminate information, it is often not always the most effective.

Let’s look at an example: how do you teach a child to tie their shoelaces?  Do you:

  1. Show the child a series of PowerPoint slides that explain the benefits of shoelace tying keeping the presentation neutral so that you don’t align with a particular method (damn those mainstream crisscross lacers); or
  2. Sit down with them and show them how to do it? 

The best way to learn anything has always been to contextualise it. Learner-based activities (where students teach themselves) are a current trend in education as it promotes retention of information by providing something tangible to illustrate the topic.

A more contextual learning method also improves motivation and interest in the topic – something our industry is really in need of, due to our current skills gap, as highlighted by Jason Ruddle before in his post.

This is something I have tried to do with my blog, “There’s No BIM Like Home” (www.BIMblog.house), to contextualise BIM in a simple, user-friendly manner and I have done so by modelling my home. On the blog I have been gradually developing my two-up-two-down terrace in south Wales to try to complete a BIM Level 2-compliant data set for my home.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, one of the most common bits of feedback I have gotten has been about COBie, and how actually seeing a COBie sheet and being able to compare it to a graphical model has really helped convey its usefulness.

So remember, when thinking about how we train and educate our industry, do we show them the PowerPoint or do we help them tie their laces?