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Author : Belen Fernandez Franca

The creation of an Innovative Didactic resource with SketchUp

Hi, I am Belen Fernandez Franca from Barcelona Spain. I have studied here in my country Technical Architecture and followed that up with a masters degree in Pedagogical Training, I am Trimble SketchUp Authorized Trainer for Spain at the same time as I’m the Community Manager of SketchUp here in my home town of Barcelona. I have worked many years together with the Polytechnic University of Catalonia collaborating on things related to the world of the Education and Architecture. It is for this reason that I have decided to give a little insight into you one of my Pedagogical Projects that was made with SketchUp. This project was made in collaboration with Cristina Venturi and under the supervision of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. Thank you very much to you both!

The project that is described within this article consists of the creation of an Innovative Didactic Resource for students of Professional Training and students of the first year of Higher Education of Construction and Civil Work. This didactic resource is principally targeted to generate a data base that includes technical information of particular constructive elements, as well as having an attractive and dynamic interface for the student.

This project was baptized with the name “Virtual Catalogue of Constructive Elements”.

The idea of this project initially came about from my own personal and practical experience both as a student and as a building industry professional afterwards. Consensual manner with other students and professionals, we believe that you never really reach a solid 100% knowledge base until you start to work within the real world environment and labor market.

In my opinion Construction within Spain is taught in ways that are often impractical in the real world. It is loaded with great theoretical models students soon forget ... I think to achieve real Excellence in Education it should foster Significant Learning. For this reason, we think that it would be very useful for students newly arrived into the world of Construction, a visual catalogue easy to handle on the different architectural elements that can be found in further works.

What is intended with this material is that students set up a cognitive and structural relationship with what you learn in the future. This will create a general idea of the different items that will be studied later, based on Significant Learning experience.

The goals of the project was to improve performance and comprehension of students both in the classes and projects, to provide students with a general idea of the different building elements and construction processes of these items that will be studied further, making the resource as close to the real life promoting at the same time the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

To achieve these goals we thought that when creating a resource that promotes Significant Learning, we needed to combine traditional elements with new technologies to keep the resource interactive and easy to handle by users.

The result was the “Virtual Catalogue of Constructive Elements” which consists of a series of descriptive files of various building items adapted to new Technical Edification Code of Spain.

Here is an example from the catalogue.


The catalog is displayed in “PDF” format (for Acrobat Reader 8 or above). Each of the files from the catalog contains the following information.

  • Technical descriptions of the item. This description contains tags linked to the Terminological Glossary related with the item.
  • Links to the editable 3D model of the item in Trimble SketchUp. You can control the whole element via a software product that is free of charge. Every .skp model contains the different elements by layers in sequence to the construction process.
  • Real pictures of the item and its construction process.
  • 3D graphical item description of phases of execution manageable from the same PDF file. All these screen views are made with SketchUp and are described both in a written and graphically manner. If you click on a image you will be able to view the item in a 360º viewer without having to have Sketchup installed.

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