The Benefits of Simulations
Simulation-based learning is the approach of providing users with the opportunity to practice new skills and/or concepts that one may encounter in real life situation while maintaining a controlled environment. They allow you to explore 'what if' questions and scenarios in preparation for day-to-day conflicts or large scale problems. Simulations (SIMS) can be applied to many different disciplines, such as medicine, education, or day-to-day soft skills. SIMS are deemed a crucial methodology in bridging the gap between theory and practice.
The literature supports the use of SIMS to assist students and/or users with the understanding of complex systems and enhancing their learning via hands-on activities that have been carefully designed by the instructor(s). There are various benefits to using simulation-based learning. For example, SIMS provide immediate feedback, pose no risk and reduce costs and risk of errors. SIMS also provide an opportunity to learn how to mitigate errors and maintain safety, especially in industries where there is zero tolerance for errors. However, even for a lower risk environment, SIMS have provided ample opportunity for improvements and growth. These benefits include increased motivation, emotional attachment to the outcome due to the use of a constructivist-based approach, fostering collaborative work-related skills, as well as fostering critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making skills.
Although there has been some critiques, arguing against the use of SIMS in learning, such as distractions or reluctance for change by instructors, SIMS have been well-supposed in the literature to develop the skills professionals need today. Case studies in Ireland, Spain, and Portugal also produced favourable results when integrating online platforms to support learning, development and growth.
As a pedagogy, SIMS can be used as means of providing differentiated instructions to reach various individuals who require different learning methodologies. Through the use of different tools, examples or modules, an instructor can reach a wider audience with a tailored approach. For example, a kinetic learner would require different tools to learn versus an auditory or visual learner. Online SIMS can be prepared ahead of time to target each type of learner with a few modifications. This is an efficient method by which an instructor can deliver the material to his/her students in a desired and targeted method.
In addition to all the studies and above-listed documented benefits, online SIMS can be conducted in the comfort of your own home, office or remote working environment. Whether there are pandemic-related closures, mobility issues, or simply the extra convenience of taking the SIMS to your remote office by the beach in the Caribbean, SIMS have allowed for the convenient delivery of educational material for your ongoing growth and development. There is also the added flexibility of timing, as online SIMS can be played and re-played without the requirement of in-person or live structure. SIMS can also be easily translated to a multitude of languages to reach an international and multi-lingual audience without the added financial and time constraints of travel.
Based on the literature, the benefits of the use of SIMS for learning, growth and development have overwhelmingly outweighed the criticisms.