The eLearning Simulations Guide For eLearning Professionals

Christopher Pappas

Christopher Pappas is founder of The eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry. Christopher holds an MBA, and an MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU. eLearning Blogger | EduTechpreneur | eLearning Analyst | Speaker | Social Media Addict

eLearning simulations offer your learners a wealth of experience without any real world risk. In this article, I'll share 3 benefits of using simulations in eLearning, then highlight 5 helpful tips for creating eLearning simulations that imitate real life challenges and situations.

The eLearning Simulations Guide: 3 Benefits And 5 Design Tips

Simulations have been used for entertainment purposes for years. Gamers have enjoyed running their own theme parks, getting behind the wheel of a sports car, and even soaring through the skies using simulator software. However, eLearning simulations can also offer your organization a myriad of benefits, including improved productivity and on-the-job performance. Even the most complicated processes can be broken down into manageable steps, so that employees have the ability to explore new tasks and challenges in a safe and supportive environment. Here are just 3 of the benefits associated with eLearning simulations, as well as 5 tips to help you design the ideal simulation for your eLearning experience.

The 3 Benefits Of Using eLearning Simulations

  1. Increases motivation. eLearning simulations provide corporate learners with a risk-free online training environment where they can explore new problem-solving approaches. Instead of relying on time tested strategies, they have the opportunity to test out new theories and assumptions in order to discover new and improved methods.
  2. Reduces training time and expense. eLearning simulations can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to train employees. This is due to the fact that they can immerse themselves in real world situations and environments instead of merely reading about tasks and processes. This leads to a decrease in online training costs and an increase in profits, as employees are able to spend more time in the workplace and less in the virtual classroom.
  3. Stress real world benefits and applications. Employees have the power to apply the information and skills they've learned during an eLearning simulation. They can also determine the real life benefits and consequences of their actions in a safe and supportive virtual space.

5 eLearning Simulation Design Tips

  1. Create a plan of action. The first, and most important, step when designing an eLearning simulation is to create an eLearning simulation plan. This typically involves developing an outline, eLearning storyboard, and timeline that serve as the structure of your eLearning simulation. Be as detailed impossible and include branches, triggered responses, and multimedia components, like camera views, background audio, and images. It's also important to identify what your corporate learners need to know upon completion, such as what information they require or which skills they must develop. This plan of action can help you determine which resources and tools you will need to create the eLearning simulation, so that you don't have to invest in extraneous software.
  2. Gather the ideal tools. Since we're on the subject of eLearning tools and software, it's wise to gather all of the necessary materials before you begin the eLearning simulation development process. This includes a computer or laptop that can has adequate processing power and memory, video recording and editing software, audio equipment, unless you are using royalty-free audio, and graphic design software that can render your 3D eLearning simulation. There are also some all-in-one eLearning authoring tools that can tackle every step of the task, which is ideal for rapid eLearning courses.
  3. Include realistic dialogue, audio, and imagery. eLearning simulations are such an effective online training tool because they allow corporate learners to completely immerse themselves within a virtual situation. Thus, you must use true-to-life dialogue, audio, video, and images in order to create a realistic training tool. Take the time to develop a well written script and then pair it with multimedia that mimics real world environments. Ensure that the dialogue flows naturally, and that characters are believable and relatable. If possible, obtain pictures from the workplace, such as images that feature work stations or equipment they'll use on a daily basis. If you want to create that, get your corporate learners to engage and connect with the online training content, you have to trick their minds into thinking that they're in the middle of the action.
  4. Clarify the goals and expectations in advance. This tip actually pertains both to the development and the deployment process. Firstly, you must be aware of what your corporate learners need to accomplish by the end of the simulation. What are the performance goals? What skills do they need to build? What tasks need to be mastered? Do you need to test their ability to perform in high-pressure environments? Secondly, you must clarify these goals and objectives for your corporate learners. They should know exactly what they need to take away from the eLearning simulation. There can be no ambiguity about expectations or targeted skills. You may even want to include a bullet point list or objective statement at the beginning of the eLearning simulation so that they understand the real world applications and benefits, which further fuels their motivation.
  5. Provide detailed feedback after completion. We just covered how you should start your eLearning simulation. Now let's discuss how you should end it. Successful eLearning simulations always include feedback after completion. Give them constructive criticism regarding how they can improve their performance and what they did incorrectly. Be specific without getting personal. Instead, focus on their professional skills and knowledge base, and only comment on weaknesses that can actually be improved. Likewise, you can also ask them to grade their own performance and pinpoint areas they may need to work on. This gives them the sense that they are in control and empowers them to seek out online resources on their own.

eLearning simulations may require a significant amount of time and resources to develop. However, the benefits they can provide may be well worth the investment. The trick is researching your employees' needs beforehand, and determining how an eLearning simulation can fill the knowledge gaps and improve their performance. You should also conduct a thorough task analysis to figure out all of the steps and skills involved.