There are many ways to create educational simulations that are both engaging and result-oriented. However, developing these simulations can be very expensive and resource consuming. Therefore, instructional designers should strategically analyze all goals and objectives prior to getting involved in the design process.
Here are five suggestions on how you can create educational simulations quickly and effectively.
- Introductions Matter: Rather than separate the introduction and the main body of the simulation, effective simulation models integrate them into the core content, allowing students to quickly delve into the intros, and then, get to the substance of the game. By doing so, instructional designers familiarize their students with the look-and-feel, and overall mechanics (background, themes, navigation, feedback/messaging) of the simulation early on, thereby shortening the learning curve.
- Pay Attention to Learning Objectives and Outcomes: When designers get deeply entrenched with the excitement of the simulation, they often forget to pay attention to creating effective learning objectives. Most tools allow ISD professionals to define multiple goals (Targeted Skills Improvements; Enhancing Product Knowledge etc.) in a snap. Doing this early in the design process will help with defining and compiling relevant core content for the simulation.
- Clear Rules of The Game: Before launching into the simulations, adult learners often want to know how they will be evaluated, and in what ways they can engage with the simulation model to ensure success. It is important that eLearning creators take some time to set clear and well-defined “engagement rules” before starting to build core content.
- Relating To Your Audience: Before piling up core content, designers should familiarize themselves with the simulation tools they are using. One element that can quickly be configured, and has a powerful impact on student engagement, is the background and environmental settings for simulated scenes. Consider developing stories that learners can easily relate to, and have them participate in interactions that they will most-likely experience on the job.
- Choice of Characters: While creating characters/avatars requires knowledge of graphic design or significant investment in hiring a professional designer, there are ways to create meaningful simulations without spending too much money. For example, there are sites with free images that can be modifies, cut, or cropped using PowerPoint and other free graphic design and editing tools available on the market. These characters can then be animated using any free animation tool, (if a paid tool is not available to you) such as Caligari
Regardless of your approach to creating educational simulations for your student audience, your choice of tools will have a great impact on the final outcome. Traditional eLearning simulation software like Adobe Captivate, Storyline, or gaming and behavioral simulators like ITYSTUDIO are great to have in your eLearning content creation toolbox.
For quick results though, make sure your simulation tool supports multiple platforms, different formats (SCORM 1.2, 2004) and even the ability to translate the final product into different languages.