Simulation is the implementation of a model based on real phenomena that have been simplified just enough to illustrate the key principles. The use of this technique with regard to learning at work has ancient origins and was established during the first industrial revolution. The ability to interact with a model helps to measure the quality and quantity of what you have learned, training the ability to solve problems, make decisions and think analytically. Without a model to interact with and especially without any decisions to be taken, there is no simulation. Simulations require decision making: you learn because you can observe and reflect on the effects of your actions. What happens is a consequence of what you do, just like in real life. In order to create an ad hoc simulated experience you need: A MODEL, the hardest part, which requires study and a profound knowledge of the phenomenon. Its role is to define the relationships between variables. Models can be constructed for many different contexts. An example is the law of Supply and Demand, up to the more complex Cauchy-Continuous model. SCENARIOS of different levels, from the simplest to those focussed on reproducing critical situations. TUTOR (OR MENTOR), a party who monitors the simulation process, provides feedback and intervenes. Then, a few steps need to be performed:

  • select the context in which the model has to operate, in order to identify specific characteristics and highlight any exceptions
  • clearly assign the tasks that need to be accomplished by describing the goal
  • provide clear feedback at regular intervals

In a training project which involves simulation, e-Learning can help catalyse many phases, both for the designer/tutor, as well as the participants. There are four main phases: PHASE 1. Assignment User management can be done by using e-Learning platforms that already have user profile and information management tools, as well as tools for direct or mass messaging. PHASE 2. Experimentation If budgets allow, the same vehicle used in the simulation model could be developed and delivered via e-Learning (software), enabling users to iterate and train continuously remotely. PHASE 3. Socialisation The use of forums or other social tools integrated in the platforms for the construction of community linked to the simulated context, allow improved learning without the need for substantial investments. PHASE 4. Traceability E-Learning allows the tracking of participant activity, providing valuable data for monitoring and specific feedback activities. Simulation is a very powerful tool that, when used in the right way, with the right content, can provide significant and measurable results. Although the investment required to create a simulator can be substantial, e-Learning can be of help, acting as a catalyst for the process, speeding up some of the critical phases and increasing the effectiveness of others. The topic was discussed in posterLab no. 33: “learning with simulators”. PaoloLimoncelli

written by: Paolo Limoncelli , 29 June 2016

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