What can e-learning simulations achieve?
To understand what a learning simulation can do for you or your organisation, you first need to understand what it entails. For years, trainers have been using simulation-based learning to prepare students, trainees, and new hires before moving to hands-on training and actual practice. Simply, a e-learning simulation is a (digital) scenario in which learners are trained to develop certain skills or how to respond in different real-life scenarios, such as interacting with a customer in a risk-free, controlled environment.
One of the biggest benefits of e-learning simulations is that they can, and should, include any number of assessments and evaluations – which, unlike in traditional face-to-face roleplaying or training, are repeatable and easily actionable. The importance of these cannot be overstated, as they help the learners track their progress themselves, and evaluate where they stand. And, they provide the organisation with measurable data to track the learner’s performance, progress, and then provide personal feedback where necessary.
Ultimately, what this leads to is an increase in leaner confidence and capability. In businesses, for example, employees are expected to be as productive as possible and carry out the real, sometimes challenging tasks they were hired for. Simulations are perfect to train employees and help them achieve this level of productivity, as they are given an opportunity to practice real-world situations without facing the repercussions of their actions or the fear of failure.
The perks to incorporating software simulations in your e-learning programmes are numerous and well documented. We’ve included some of the more notable advantages below.
Improved knowledge retention and practical experience
It is universally known that visual representation of a task and how it is supposed to be done, or how a system functions, helps immensely with learning. And this is where e-learning simulations excel. In the case of training employees to use new company software, a simulation provides learners with an environment where they can see how the software actually functions, and interact with its interface without leaving anything to imagination, which is a major downside to traditional ‘classroom’ or text-based learning.
Not only that, but e-learning simulations are repeatable, and gives learners the ability to keep practicing until they reach their goals – which leverages another key aspect to knowledge retention and mastery: repetition. With traditional teaching, it will probably not work out so well if you will simply just redistribute the same quiz or learning material over and over again.
Reduces training time and expense
E-learning simulations can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to train employees. Not only does immersing themselves in real world situations and environments, instead of merely reading about tasks and processes, improve retention but it also helps students learn quickly. Employees can acquire more information rapidly, as they are putting to task the key concepts of the training and interacting directly with the application.
This leads to a decrease in training costs and an increase in efficiency, as employees are able to spend more time in the workplace and less in the virtual classroom.
Learners have the ability to explore different branches in the simulation or take alternative paths based on choice, freely.
Simulations allow for more personalised learning experiences, as learners have the ability to ‘branch out’ – that is, interact with different scenarios – based on their choices, which in turn further promotes a holistic learning approach. This is simply impossible in traditional face-to-face training for many learners at once – it will be too disruptive.
This is how branching in a simulation can work. There aren’t always correct and incorrect answers when it comes to human behavior and interaction, and often different approaches lead to different points one needs to master. For example, consider the employee who needs to practice a new point of sale system when faced with an angry client versus the employee that is lacking in sales conversion. Both of them may start the simulation at the same point but will learn different things that the learning system was able to make personal for them.
Personalised and immediate feedback
Providing feedback to learners may be a little more nuanced than it first appears. One has to take into account when to give feedback, what type of feedback to give – so as not to discourage further learning – and how that feedback will be interpreted.
One way simulations can approach this dilemma is that they allow for instantaneous feedback. That is, when a learner makes a correct or incorrect choice, feedback can be displayed within the continuity of the simulation, instead of at the end. This does two things. One, it doesn’t dampen the morale of the student, as they are often offered the immediate opportunity to correct their mistakes or it allows for branching of the scenario which more effectively explains why that choice wasn’t ideal and what consequences came of it. This is in contrast to typical ‘offline’ quizzes which simply give you a passing or failing mark, with very little feedback as to why the answer was incorrect.
The second thing having feedback in the continuity of the simulation accomplishes is nipping incorrect practices and beliefs in the bud. Instead of completing the scenario assuming an incorrect notion, students are incentivised to adapt according to the feedback they receive throughout the simulation. Further choices in the scenario will be made with the previously shown correct or incorrect choice in mind, which further cements best practice.
Again, this would be impractical in a face-to-face training environment with multiple students.
E-learning simulations offers employers and educators the opportunity to cost-effectively tailor very productive learning experiences which provides personalised material to a multitude of different students. Simulations make use of visual and interactive exercises to better a course’s instructive aims in a way that encourages participation.
You can test out two simulations below, in which you make a sales cold call and attempt to sell stationery supplies or where you undertake a job interview with a choice of three companies.