Notes from Stanford Simulation Workshop

Attending SUMMIT

In August 2006, I was fortunate enough to attend a special event by the Stanford University Medical Media and Information Technologies group, “Designing Case Based Learning for Virtual Worlds.”

There were many presentations from various leaders in the field of simulation and virtual learning as well as much discussion over SecondLife, OLIVE™, There, Half-Life2, and other simulation engines.

From an Instructional Design perspective, there were several elements from this workshop that struck a chord, which I will share here.

  • We have much to learn from the corporate sector: game and simulation engines (like those listed above and other MMORPGs) offer much interaction and learning incentive (you must learn how to play, in order to play). It is important to keep the audience – and their tastes / enjoyment – in mind when creating virtual simulations.
  • A learning environment can be created from anything…or nothing…if need be: with several demonstrations of how various Universities and academics utilized Second Life and There (both free virtual communities), it becomes clear that educators and trainers must continually strive to engage their audience and that this can be done within ANY setting…including newer technological advances, like these social networks.
  • Most importantly, there is the need for debriefing and evaluation in serious games / simulations: while we can create “awesome sims” or spectacular learning technology, there must be a measure in place to offer feedback and instruction to users. Using debriefing methods allows for the traditional didactic methods (i.e., instructor-led), while still embracing newer communication and technology.

In short, while we now have even greater teaching / training tools than ever before (simulations, instructional technology, etc.), there will always be a specific need for subject matter experts, instructors, and trainers to reinforce the learning with the human element.

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