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The Promise of Online Simulations
Online simulations have the potential to add enormous value to corporate training environments. Simulations are fun and engaging and allow learners to internalize knowledge by applying new skills in a risk-free environment. This can dramatically increase
Many factors contribute to this gap between potential and reality, but the largest roadblock to widespread adoption of online simulations is uncertainty over how to develop, use and incorporate simulations successfully into existing training environments.
This article touches on some fundamental questions about simulations: What topics are best taught through simulations? What are the characteristics of successful simulations? How can simulations best be integrated into training environments? What are the barriers that prevent organizations from adopting them? Only when good answers to these questions are provided will simulations find widespread adoption in corporate training settings.
First, it’s important to define what a simulation is. All too often, interactive screenshot walkthroughs of applications and courses with multiple-choice assessments are called simulations, even though they do not create a simulated environment. Such training applications have their place in corporate training, but they don’t allow learners to engage actively and learn from their own mistakes in a simulated environment.
A simple test can reveal whether a program is a linear course with assessment questions or a true simulation: Are learners studying presented materials, or are they learning from the outcomes of their own actions? If learners are mostly engaged through lecture or presentation material, they do not learn from the consequences of their actions. In a true simulation, the users make choices that lead them down different paths toward different outcomes. The learners’ individual choices determine where they find themselves later in the simulation.
What Topics Are Best Taught Through Simulations?
Simulations can be used in many corporate training areas, including leadership training, sales and customer-service skills, new-hire orientation and operations management. In general, simulations are most successfully used in areas where judgment skills, not facts, are being taught. Simulations are also effective at modeling complex financial or economic behavior.
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