In this unit, you will be introduced to the pedagogical strengths and benefits of using simulations in your own teaching, but also to some important challenges that you should be aware of in using simulations for instructional purposes.




SEE ONE – RATIONALE FOR using simulations in teaching (WHY)
  • Impact of simulations on learners of all ages (e.g. development of high-level problem solving, risk management & creativity skills).
  • Core implications for the integration of playful simulations in teaching and learning.
  • Videos to identify why teaching with simulations
  • Readings on integrating playful simulations in teaching and learning
  • Reflections - Learning journal entry
  • Appreciate the pedagogical strengths and benefits of using simulations for teaching and learning.
  • Recognize the main limitations and challenges of simulation-based pedagogy.

Impact of simulations on learners

There are many benefits to using simulations in the educational process. Simulations provide a safe environment for students to test and refine their understandings of the situation at hand. Learners can observe, engage with, and explore the processes represented by the simulation. They can repeat tasks indefinitely and to learn through a repeated process of trial-and-error. This can lead to much more powerful understanding of the underlying concepts, as well as to the development of important 21st century skills (e.g. high-level problem solving, risk management, creativity skills)

Why Teach with Simulations? outlines some of the pedagogical strengths and affordances of simulations that can lead to “deep learning”.

The following videos provide some convincing examples of how the adoption of simulation-based pedagogies enhances the teaching and learning process in many different disciplines:

Enhancing student learning outcomes with simulation-based pedagogies

Simulation-based Learning | Curtin University

Game-Based Learning Brings the History of Civilization to Life

CIBER Pedagogy: "Using Classroom Role-Play Simulations"

Use of Simulations in Education with Doug Donovan & Steve Quirk

Simulations in the Classroom

Simulated learning in health sciences at Curtin University

Integrating playful simulations in teaching & learning

Research studies conducted over several decades in different disciplines indicate that simulations are a powerful tool that has a positive impact on student motivation and learning (Vlachopoulos & Makri, 2017). Computer-based simulations provide students with rich virtual experiences similar to those of the traditional apprenticeship (Jonassen, 2000), helping them to integrate theory with practice while making real-time decision in a safe environment that poses no threats to themselves or other people. For example, a multi-site, longitudinal study conducted by National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to explore the role and outcomes of simulation in pre-licensure clinical nursing education in the United States (Hayden et al., 2014), concluded that there is substantial evidence that simulation can be substituted for up to 50 percent of traditional clinical experiences under conditions comparable to those described in the study.

Simulations do not necessarily have to involve high end and expensive computer platforms. Research has shown that even low end, low fidelity simulations can provide authentic and effective learning experiences (Lyons, 2012).

While simulations provide a range of potential educational benefits, not all of the existing simulations are appropriately designed to motivate students and to promote authentic, experiential learning. As pointed out by Chau (2014), the reach and scope of educational games and simulations is deep and wide and often with little regulation or curation. For example, simulated environments are not adequately realistic, resulting in students having a difficult time to apply what they learn from the simulation to a real-world setting (Martinez et al., 2011).

Simulations’ successful deployment is highly dependent upon the knowledge, attitudes, and experiences of teachers. Instructors need to be proactive, choosing high quality, playful simulations, supporting and scaffolding pupils, and providing appropriate feedback. Thus, the provision of high-quality professional development on the appropriate selection and/or design of high-quality simulations is of paramount importance to simulations’ effective integration in classroom settings. Instructors also need to get trained on effective instructional strategies they could use to facilitate learning with simulations (e.g. debriefing, role-playing collaborative game playing, supplementing of simulations with other instructional methods)

Let's reflect on what we have learned...

Before moving on, take some time to reflect in your learning journal on a couple of central considerations and questions when doing teaching and learning through simulations:

  1. What is the additional value of teaching using simulations?
  2. Why do you think you should integrate simulations in your teaching practice?
  3. What is the impact of simulations you expect on your learners?