In this tutorial, we'll explore using simulations in the classroom. We'll begin with the definition of a simulation, and then we'll compare simulations to games. Finally, we'll identify some of the benefits of using simulations to increase personalization in your classroom. A simulation is defined as a game that provide students with an alternate method for participating in a real life experience.
For example, rather than dissecting a real frog in biology class, students might participate in a simulation that allows them to dissect a virtual frog. Or, students might use a simulation to tour an art museum that's halfway around the world.
These simulations allow students to learn the same concepts and skills as the real life experience without requiring the physical supplies and without having to overcome the logistical difficulties of some of the actual experiences.
How is a simulation different from a game? Games, especially computer games, are often fantasy-based, whereas a simulation is a computer-based game but it is designed to mimic or duplicate a real event. Games are often animated and not meant to be realistic.
In contrast, simulations are meant to be realistic as students may complete a virtual quest or watch a demonstration that mimics a real life happening. A game may or reinforce academic concepts. For example, Rocket Math uses a game-based environment to help students practice their skills. Whereas, in a simulation, the emphasis is on teaching or reinforcing those academic concepts.
Think about a scenario-based simulation like Sim City, which aims to mirror a real life situation that lets students see how their decisions can impact the outcomes.
What are some of the benefits of using simulations in the classroom? First, a simulation allows students to dynamically manipulate the content as they participate in experiences that they might not otherwise have access to due to complicated logistics, safety concerns, or other hurdles. Simulations provide students with the opportunity to see the results of their problem solving and decision-making skills.
This also allow students to reflect upon their actions and adjust their decision-making accordingly. Simulations are engaging, motivating, and realistic applications of students learning and they can provide students with the opportunity to see how professionals in the field apply their knowledge.
In this tutorial, we defined a simulation and compared simulations to games. Finally, we identified the benefits of implementing simulations in the classroom.
Now it's your turn to stop and reflect. Have you used a computer-based simulation with your students already? If so, did students find it engaging and interesting? Would you like to look for some online resources that might provide simulations aligned with your content?
For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, please view the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.
(00:00 - 00:21) Introduction
(00:22 - 00:58) Definition of Simulation
(00:59 - 01:54) Simulations vs Games
(01:55 - 02:37) Benefits of Simulations
(02:38 - 02:50) Review
(02:51 - 03:27) Stop and Reflect
Farming in the Gilded Age: A Simulation
This video demonstrates how to use simulation in the classroom. In this video, you will see how simulations can help students learn important historical concepts.
Jeremiah McCall on Using Simulation Games in the History Classroom
This blog post is a great example of simulation in action. Scroll down to see a list of potential tools for simulation in your classroom and a brief description of each.
Wedig, T. (2010). Getting the most from classroom simulations: Strategies for maximizing learning outcomes. PS, Political Science and Politics, July, 547-555.