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Secrets of (Good) Simulation Design – Synopsis March 21, 2014

Posted by stephanieF in Best Practices, Gaming and Simulation, Intructional Design.
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Rich Mesch from Performance Development Group (PDG) joined us this month to discuss important aspects of good simulation design. By definition, a simulation is, “…a realistic controlled-risk environment where users can practice behaviors and experience the impacts of decisions.” There are several types of simulations: branching storyline (ex. choose your adventure), system dynamics (ex. decision-making over an extended time period), and equipment or software (ex. operation, or navigation and data entry).

Simulations can bridge the gap between, “learning something and then being able to do something with it.” By adding context, setting expectations for the reason a person should complete the simulation, and then providing a safe environment to practice we’ll give our audiences a better chance to learn and succeed in performing back on the job.

Good simulations are immersive, performance-based, based in reality, and have real-life goals and metrics. Storytelling is a key factor to writing simulations, but the reality factor must be performance-driven or else the audience can be distracted. And, while getting the details just right helps to replicate the environment yet instilling shades of gray where all the options for key decisions seem reasonable – can also invoke realistic and critical thinking. After all, real-life isn’t so black-and-white.

Lastly, as with all training deliverables, craft your simulation with the specific audience in mind. The power is in the design rather than the output.

For additional thoughts from Rich on simulations, check out PDG’s blog: http://blog.performdev.com/topic/simulation

This session was a great way to start our year of meetings. Stay tuned for other postings on what’s coming next. Our upcoming April session is described in a previous post, “Battle of the eLearning Tools.”  You can also see a listing of all SIG events on the ASTD Greater Philadelphia chapter web page at: http://www.astdphl.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1776221

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