Simulation Based Learning for Better Learner Engagement
How do we make learning more contextual and relevant? How do we increase the stickiness of the content?
Teachers have traditionally used alternative formats of teaching to engage students and help them learn the practical aspects of learning. Playing games, taking field trips and working in labs are some of the ways in which students feel engaged. This is enabled with the growth of online learning. However, with the surge of information online and offline, one of the main impediments to effective learning today is keeping the learners engaged and to ensure that the learning is targeted and effective. This makes it important to make learning more contextual and relevant. It is also important to improve the stickiness of the content.
In the digital world, technology allows us to create real-world “simulations” on using a variety of digital media /elements like video, audio, gesture-based digital learning objects on computer, iPads, mobile device. Integrating simulations within the curriculum can help overcome the typical barriers of textbook learning. Simulation based learning adds concreteness and context to learning.
Some of the key benefits of simulations are:
1) Preparation for the Actual World – They help mimic real-world situations in a digital space. Everything from medical simulations for nurses and doctors to flight simulations for pilots — simulations helps students model various situations they are likely to face in the real world.
2) Contextual Learning – Simulations add concreteness to learning and make it relevant to the context. This helps learners to grasp better and ensures retention of the knowledge that has been acquired.
3) Visual Learning – We are inherently wired to process visual information better than textual and verbal. Take this one example – many of us have sat through lectures on Organic Chemistry and tried learning it through textbooks, trying to make sense of complex carbon and hydrogen bonds. Understanding those molecules and reactions can get confusing and tricky. Now imagine seeing those molecules in a form like this:
Imagine manipulating the 3D model of this molecule and its bonds to understand how exactly these interact. This visualization helps students grasp complex concepts better. Another example could be visualizing the impact of marine pollution on aquatic animals. By changing the variables in the simulation, students can change the pollution levels in the sea and see the subsequent changes.
4) Engagement and Deep Learning – In learning by doing, students engage deeply in an activity. This helps with deep learning and higher retention rates. Some of these media-rich interactive exercises also add an element of freshness to the concepts taught and help increase student engagement levels.
5) Technology – Today, it is possible to analyze student usage data by integrating web-based simulations with analytic tools. One can get highly relevant data and usage patterns which could be used to a) personalize the learning process for every student and b) make improvements in the materials for an improved user experience overall.
Overall, integrating simulations within the curriculum can help improve the learning process by making it contextual, relevant and engaging.
Having said that, there are some challenges to mass adoption of these simulations. Some of the key ones being:
a) Cost – The cost of developing these NextGen simulations can run into tens of thousands of dollars. The cost barrier is a major impediment especially in the K12 sector where funding priorities can put these on a backburner.
b) Infrastructure – We take internet connectivity for granted today but it is still a challenge in some areas of the world. Simulations can be heavily web-dependent objects and lower speeds can impair the user experience. The plethora of devices, browsers and operating systems used today can also pose challenges in maintaining a uniform experience. For example, a student accesses these simulations on a web browser at school. She goes home and accesses these same simulations on her phone on an app, but the presentation and controls are very different, which can be frustrating. Providing this flexibility without jeopardizing the experience is a challenge.
Some of these challenges are being overcome with better technology. The popularity of simulations as learning tools is on the rise.
We at Magic EdTech work with educational publishers at all levels to help them develop these engaging simulations. Some of the areas where our clients appreciate us are:
a) Cost Efficiency – By using an approach driven by templates and engines, we bring down costs and add efficiencies of scale to the development process. This leads to faster development timelines and reduced expense.
b) Device Agnostic Development – We understand the patterns of today’s technology consumption. Our development and design teams take these into consideration and design for devices of all shapes and forms.
c) Accessibility – Accessibility is the cornerstone of everything we do here at Magic EdTech. All our simulations keep user access at the center of its design and development. Our simulations are WCAG 2.1 compliant and provide the learning opportunity to everyone.
Feel free to drop us a line if you’d want to learn more. There is nothing that can replace the richness of real-world experience. Simulations replicate those and get as close to it as they can to help make learning effective and engaging.