Education

Simulations can be used to provide a fertile learning environment for students. The use of simulated activities in education is widely becoming recognized as an important tool in schools.

Educational simulations offer several benefits:

  • Simulations are often cheaper to create than their real life counterparts. Installing flight simulation software is cheaper than buying a practice jet for each school.
  • They are easier to construct
  • Simulations remove the element of danger from the situation. For example, you can "interact" with a Bengal tiger in a simulation quite safely.
  • Simulations can be paused, whereas real life cannot. Pausing allows more time for students to assess what's going on.

Activities that promote learning tend to meet the following criteria:

  • They simulate an activity that is "real", and so it can be said that they are "virtually real". They simulate the activity so well that there is little difference between the simulated environment and the real one, and the same kind of learning experience can take place.
  • They are "hands-on", involving students so they become participants, not mere listeners or observers. Students learn better from their own experiences than having others' experiences related to them.
  • They are motivators for learning. Student involvement in the activity is so deep that interest in learning more about the activity or its subject matter develops.
  • They are tailored to the student. When simulations are designed specifically for their audience, they can take developmental requirements into consideration.
  • They are inspirational. Student input is welcome and activities are designed to encourage students to enhance the activity by contributing their own ideas.
  • They are developmentally valid. Simulations take into account the students' developmental level.
  • They are empowering. Students take on responsible roles, find ways to succeed, and develop problem solving tools as a result of the interaction.

The teacher's role used to be that of presenter of facts to students who absorb information like passive sponges. Most teachers will recognise that role as having changed. Simulations add a new dimension to the learning experience and develop the teacher's role even further.

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