Simulation as a technique was used for education a while longer than we could think. More often, terms technique and technology are confused. As a technology, simulations and simulators were first employed at the second part of 20th century.
With the increasing speed of technological development, the use of simulation as a technique and a methodology of teaching becomes more and more available. As well as the variety of fields of application. The well known start was aircraft pilot simulators, following them – healthcare, business management, military machinery, physics, chemistry, mathematics. And obviously, the list goes on and on.
Roughly, simulations all over different areas of application allow following development of skills:
- Technical and functional expertise training.
- Problem-solving and decision-making skills.
- Interpersonal and communications skills or team-based competencies.
These are the 4 key drivers for increasing interest in simulations all over various industries:
- Public expectation. The public expects professionals to engage in appropriate skills and simulation training in order to be competent and have a necessary skill set. Imagine patients shocked to learn that doctors frequently perform skills for the first time on a real patient. Or a pilot flying a plane without no training in a flight simulator?
- Ever changing working practice. Development of new professional roles, growth of large and complex working environments, the widespread adoption of shift systems and the rapid pace of modern technologies requires development of high order leadership, team-working and communication skills. Simulation has been at the forefront of the development (and assessment) of these skills.
- Technological developments and opportunities. The technology available to support high fidelity and simulation training has progressed rapidly in recent years. It was also noticed, that small custom made simulations can be more efficient, given they go hand in hand with learning programs and ensure necessary skill development.
- Reduced training time. With the help of simulations, students receive practical skill development which is (according to scientists) comparable to real life experience. Also, simulations can improve systematical understanding of the subject as a whole, thus helping specialists become more aware of their work and organizations in general. All in all, reducing the possible amount of mistakes and increasing efficiency of freshly backed employees.
So as we can see, simulations are here to stay for a very long time.
However, as a supply of various tools called “simulations” in the market is increasing, one has to be aware of the following features, especially if these are to be used for efficient learning process:
- The ability to provide feedback.
- Repetitive practice.
- Curriculum integration.
- The ability to range the difficulty levels.
- Possibility to create a variety of scenarios or recreate situational conditions.
If the majority of functionality listed above, is unavailable, the possible use as an educational tool becomes limited.
Thus if you are (and most probably you are) interested in a simulation as a tool to create and transfer knowledge and skills, you should look into it a bit deeper, as overall usability of the features and flexibility of the tool is what matters.