Real-world Applications of Simulations
--Originally created by Liz Hood March 2010--
simulation remains an artificially constructed environment, the application of Constructivist Learning Environments theory and technological advances enable simulations to more closely emulate real world scenarios. In what Daniel Pink terms the "conceptual age", skills which are crucial to the shift from an industrial age society to a knowledge based society are transitory and transferable (Pink, 2006). With vast differences and rapid changes in environments, one means of gaining a repertoire of skills and experiences is through the use of simulations.
According to Marc Prensky, each gaming experience provides learning opportunities in five distinct areas: how, what, why, where and when/whether (Prensky, 2006). While not all games are simulations and not all simulations are games, many digital based games (see the entry Digital_Game-Based_Learning) proffer an immersive, rich environment through which experiences gained provide students with valuable knowledge and skills which are applicable to real world scenarios.
From weapons instruction to interpersonal skills, simulations play an important role in the training of law enforcement.
Medical: The medical field uses simulations to train practitioners in a multitude of skills and environments. While many of the simulations focus on medical procedures, simulations also afford students the opportunity to develop communication and teamwork skills. Research studies show the use of simulations increases improvement in multiple medical areas from surgery to procedural skills(Okuda, 2009).
While an incomplete experience, obstetrics simulations give the practitioners a visual understanding of an experience that cannot be fully emulated outside of the actual environment (K. Nance, personal communication, March 3, 2010). Medical simulations allow practitioners to apply theory to practice while gaining competencies in varied settings; opportunities which would be limited by the traditional rigidity of clinical experience.
Simulations comprise a large portion of the preparation of the United States warrior. From basic training to active duty, the soldier is immersed in both simulated and reality environments.
Conclusion Training a human to be adaptable under stress is elusive without the actual situation. Classroom instruction will never be able to fill the knowledge gap between school and reality. Simulation, on the other hand, can erase common mistakes and bring a student closer to the reality experience. It is not the physical verisimilitude that provides the immersive environment for the participant, but the cognitive realism afforded by complex and engaging tasks. The exposure to and completion of the tasks (afforded by the simulation) develop the necessary knowledge and skills which are transferable to the “live” context.
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