Arthur Richardson, national solutions manager for easyA, says that simulations can be such a powerful workplace learning tool since they imitate real situations, processes and systems which can occur in a workplace.
“The power of a simulation is that it provides a risk-free environment in which a learner can explore, make decisions and – importantly – make mistakes without any real consequences. Learners can be placed into a workplace environment which they recognise and required to observe and make decisions in relation to the specific circumstances displayed in the scenarios,” Richardson says.
It’s also fairly easy to provide feedback, according to the expert, as learners can be provided feedback either as they move through activities or when the simulation is concluded.
This flexibility for feedback gives leaders, supervisors or managers a great chance to further drive learning points. Depending on the responses the individual makes during the simulation, overseers can assess the level of competence of the individual and provide appropriate reinforcement, feedback or remediation, Richardson notes.
“If designed and developed correctly, simulations can provide a faster path to achieve competence and therefore provide a high return on investment,” he says.
Furthermore, simulations augment traditional learning programs, Richardson says, as they can be used as the stimulus or hook that captures the learner, as the learning program itself, or as an assessment activity.
Not only can simulations be used as different parts of the L&D program, they can also be constructed so that learners interact with the content in a variety of ways, Richardson says. Learners can be challenged to respond to a specific question, problem or situation. Furthermore, learners can be asked to work through a situation from another team member’s perspective to solve or react to an issue. They can also be tasked to identify and selec items to complete a task. Simulations can also be time-based activities, exploring a scene and explaining what learners have discovered, or dealing with distractions.
Richardson explains that simulations are steadily gaining popularity and expanding from use in sectors such as the airline industry and the military to more and more industries.
“There is almost no limit to where simulations can be used,” Richardson says.
“Today, the richness and breadth of simulations in the workplace is increasing significantly with the advent and uptake of technologies such as 360° cameras, virtual reality and augmented reality,” he adds.
In a recent crisis simulations learning & development event, the University of Denver immersed learners within a humanitarian crisis who learnt how to stay cool and calm in high pressure situations as they worked with hired actors who played the part of those with dire needs.