Simulations provide a risk-free environment for a learner to explore, make decisions and make mistakes
HRD talks to Arthur Richardson, National solutions manager of Easy Authoring about how simulations can complement a traditional L&D program
Why are simulations such a powerful workplace learning tool?
Simulations imitate real situations, processes and systems which can occur in a workplace. The power of a simulation is that it provides a risk-free environment in which a learner can explore, make decisions and – importantly – make mistakes without any real consequences. Learners can be placed into a workplace environment which they recognise and required to observe and make decisions in relation to the specific circumstances displayed in the scenarios.
Feedback can be provided to the learner as they move through the simulation or at the conclusion of the simulation. Depending on the responses the individual makes during the simulation, a team leader, supervisor or manager can assess the level of competence of the individual and provide appropriate reinforcement, feedback or remediation.
If designed and developed correctly, simulations can provide a faster path to achieve competence and therefore provide a high return on investment.
How can simulations complement a traditional L&D program?
Simulations can be used in variety of ways in a traditional learning program. They can be used as the stimulus for a learning program – as the hook that captures the learner by placing them in a real situation and asking them what they would do. They can also be used as the learning program itself in which the learner is guided through a simulation or as reinforcement at the completion of a traditional learning program (eg “OK we’ve talked about, now you try it”). Finally, they can be used as an assessment activity.
Scenarios within the simulation can be constructed so that learners interact with the content in a variety of ways. This could include challenging them to respond to a specific question, problem or situation; working through a situation from another team member’s perspective to solve or react to an issue; identifying and/or selecting items to complete a task; time-based activities; exploring a scene and explaining what they have discovered; or dealing with distractions.
In what learning situations can simulations be used in the workplace?
Simulations have been used for many years in sectors such as the airline industry and the military. Increasingly, they are being used as an effective learning strategy in many workplaces. There is almost no limit to where simulations can be used.
Examples of learning with simulations include customer conversations in banks, shops, and call centres; work hazards such as working in confined spaces, working at heights, or handling goods; occupational violence scenarios such as armed robbery or aggressive customers; business computer applications and processes; the operation of equipment and tools; and inappropriate workplace behaviours such as bullying, discrimination and harassment.
Today, the richness and breadth of simulations in the workplace is increasing significantly with the advent and uptake of technologies such as 360° cameras, virtual reality and augmented reality.