The ability to re-create real-life conditions and keep learners engaged in ways that traditional “telling-based” training can’t match has made simulation technologies and game-based learning attractive options for human resource leaders. The rise of 3-D technologies and affordable virtual learning spaces—with interactive avatars that allow learners to create a sense of presence online—fuel that interest. Well-designed simulations allow employees to improvise better in the real world and deal with ambiguous or unpredictable situations. These aptitudes and skills aren’t often developed by classroom- or book-based instruction, learning executives say.
“Simulation technologies enable you to put people in precarious or highly challenging real-world situations and allow them to make mistakes and take corrective actions in safe environments,” explains Karie Willyerd, chief learning officer for Sun Microsystems in Santa Clara, Calif.
There’s also a belief that reality-based learning creates a more lasting impact on participants. “It’s like telling your kids not to speed vs. them getting into an accident because they are driving too fast,” says Clark Aldrich, an independent simulation designer and author of The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games (Pfeiffer, 2009). “The latter type of learning stays with people longer and creates greater conviction about the training exercise, which is the strength of good simulations.”
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