Instructional Simulation

Since the early 1900s simulations of one form or another have been used as method for training. Simulations are being used in education by number of different names. Interactions between people such as role-playing can be defined as simulations. Virtual and constructive simulations are being used more and more dude to decreasing cost of computing tools. The web based tools have an advantage in performance based training; simulations are used in e-learning environments. Even though this field is dominated by engineers and computer scientists, the non-experts are involved in designing simulation.

Instructional Simulation is playing a very important role on society. It focuses on real life facts, concepts of system and its applications. It is imitation of reality which helps students to explore and experiment with system, which is generally not possible with real system. The model of system is generally created with simulation and the behavior of the system is studied.

In every area of knowledge simulation addresses the conceptual frame work differently. Computer systems can be used to simulate complex processes and social interactions. The computer program can help student to perform experimentation with simulation which allows students to explore deep learning. The instruction simulation helps understanding the phenomenon and process which is not possible in real system. It helps to adopt scientific approach to real learning phenomenon.

Now a days government are exploring the potential of simulation apart from Industrial sector. The new pedagogies are using simulations extensively.

For learning, a new approach was adopted by developing advanced pedagogical process which works very successfully with learning and instructional process. The thought process can be evaluated and improved with the help of simulation and experimentations. It is observed that instructional simulation helps in reducing time for learning and improving decisions.

It is a very important tool for students as it gives chance for if-than analysis to improve critical approach.

The instructional simulation requires a instructor preparation approach with a lot of participation from students followed by discussion. The simulation covers two areas

A. A Replacement Model

B. A tweaking Simulation Model

Many universities are adopting to provide virtual learning environment, helping students for lifelong learning approach at their convenience at any time and giving opportunity to get involved them without physically moving. This new approach has given new direction to Teaching and Learning pedagogy.

In medicines, the simulation have given new dimensions in understanding medical phenomenon with no of benefits like

• Patient safety

• Diagnostic Accelerating

• Therapeutic Procedures

• Medical Cost Reduction

• Lowering of medical errors

The above parameters have reduced the amount of loss of life and cost associated with it.

Instructional Simulations

The simulations are designed and developed for learner or learning simulations for students to explore learning through instructions. The students can get more insight into facts, concepts and applications of particular area.

Figure 3.1 Instructional Simulation

The model of system behavior is very important for good understanding as it helps student to explore and experiment individually and personally.

• The student can study the trends of buyers and sellers with simulation or the market study.

• The simulation can also be used for election process and political forecasting, which helps in understanding future trends.

• The simulation also help student in experimenting with electric circuit with the web and learning about physical phenomenon without actual lab set up.

• The economic, social and natural world predictions can also be very well understood and analyzed with simulation.

Method of Teaching

Formal specification of a conceptual structure is the key element that differentiates instructional simulation from other pedagogies with which students interact to learn about relationships between concepts.

Different Simulations for Different Disciplines

The conceptual structure of the simulation is treated differently by every discipline. The conceptual structure to economists is typically mathematical which involves the specification of a mathematical model solved with different parameters several times to illustrate concepts and reveal relationships. The conceptual structure to sociologists is typically sets of social interactions. The conceptual structure to political scientists is often institutional.

Variation of simulations in Complexity and Style

Computer programs may be used by simulations which require only a portion of a single class period. Taking significant time, computer models require that students complete several assignments. Range of simulations is from attempts to duplicate complex social processes (such as a legislature), to very simple social interactions (such as making eye contact). Pencil-and-paper, physical models of some natural phenomenon or computers may be used to conduct these simulations. Some simulations works with all class sizes and some works with only small classes.

As opposed to “surface learning” that requires only memorization; instructional simulations have the potential to engage students in “deep learning” that empowers understanding.

Meaning of deep learning is that students:

Learns scientific methods which include

• the model building importance. Scientists do their work by the way of simulations and experiments. Students get concrete formats using instructional simulations of what it means to think like a scientist and do scientific work.

• the relationships among variables in models or a model. With the help of simulation students can see what happens by changing parameter values. Students understand the significance of changing of magnitude in parameters and develop a feel for what variables are important.

• probability, data issues and sampling theory. With the help of simulations students easily understands sampling theory and probability. It is proved that Instructional simulations worth many times over in the statistics based fields. In the beginning classes where students often struggle with sampling theory, the ability to match an analytically derived conclusion with simulation results is especially valuable. On teaching with data simulation the SERC has an existing module, given the utility of data simulation.

• the use of a model for outcomes prediction. With the help of simulations students understands that the scientific knowledge depends on the testable hypotheses foundation.

Learn to extend and reflect on knowledge by

• engaging actively in instructor-student or student-student conversations required to conduct a simulation. By their very nature Instructional simulations cannot be passive learning. Students actively participate in formulating new questions to ask, anticipating outcomes and selecting parameter values.

• transferring knowledge to new situations and problems. To include an extension to a new set of parameters or new problem a well done simulation is constructed that needs students to extend what they have learned in an earlier context.

• refining and understanding their own thought processes. A strong reflection summary that requires students to think about why and how they behaved as they did during the simulation is included in a well done simulation.

• seeing social interactions and social processes in action. In social science disciplines such as political science and sociology, this is one of the most significant outcomes of simulation.

Working of Simulation

Among the most often used pedagogies in government and industry are simulations.

• To log simulator hours airlines require pilots, potential conflicts are simulated by the pentagon, to check load requirements electrical engineers on a daily basis conduct simulations and so on.

• In professional schools in universities too simulation is found. For example medical students learn on plastic patients that are programed to exhibit all manner of symptoms in rapid succession. For Financial Services a resource like the Hughey Center is available with very few selected business schools at Bentley University by the money donation of former alum to recreate a Wall Street trading room, with the facilities to simulate any market event. To construct effective learning environments online and in the classroom, entertainment style simulations, games and social networking tools are being used by health educators.

With careful curriculum development much of the simulations successful outside of the academy can be extended to undergraduate instruction says Hertel and Millis, as the cost of large scale simulation found in the corporate environment is very high. A series of steps to ensure simulations bridge the gap between reality and theory in ways that are meaningful to students is suggested by the department of defense having extensive work with simulation. For the success of simulations much of their evidence is generated by matching simulation curriculum with active and deep leaning features.

General pedagogical prescriptions that work well with instructional simulations, was developed by focusing directly on learning theory. To change routine experts into adaptive experts it is necessary that students learn how to transfer knowledge to new situations and problems. By simulations students can be made aware of how they arrive at conclusions and their own thought processes.

Porter finally summarizes in economics principles courses what is known about the learning effectiveness of simulations. Simulation makes either a small amount of positive difference or no difference, is their general conclusion. In the various economics studies there are suggestions that for some students instructional simulations may be more effective than the general results suggest.

• Students who think in a scientific manner apply this thinking to a simulation and benefit, as per some evidence, while other students do not.

• Some evidence is there that those students who uses simulations learns a set of concept very fast then the students in lecture based, traditional class.

On the basis of these findings, for an instructor, instructional simulations are a valuable tool to improve the critical thinking of his or her students. For instructional simulations upper-division courses are tailor made that structure the curriculum in terms of scientific inquiry, as suggested by findings.

Teaching with Simulations

Effectiveness instructional simulations require:

A. Instructor preparation. The good news is that instructional simulations can be very effective in stimulating student understanding. The bad news is that many simulations require intensive pre-simulation lesson preparation.

B. Active student participation. The learning effectiveness of instructional simulation rests on actively engaging students in problem solving.

C. Post-simulation discussion. Students need sufficient time to reflect on the simulation results.

Figure 3.2 Teaching with Simulations

A. Instructor Preparation

Lesson preparation varies with the type and complexity of the simulation. However, most expert users argue that instructional simulation work best when:

• Instructors have a clear written statement in the course syllabus about the goals of the simulation and an explanation of how the simulation is tied to the course goals.

• Instructors read ALL the supporting material for the simulation.

• Instructors do a trial run of the simulation before assigning the simulation to students, when possible.

• Instructors make sure that university laboratory facilities support the simulation when laboratory facilities are needed.

• Instructors integrate instructional simulations with other pedagogies such as Cooperative Learning or Interactive Lecture Demonstration.

B. Active Student Participation

Students learn through instructional simulations when they are actively engaged.

• Students should predict and explain the outcome they expect the simulation to generate.

• Every effort should be made to make it difficult for students to become passive during the simulation. Students must submit timely input and not rely on classmates to play for them.

• Instructors should anticipate ways the simulation can go wrong and include this in their pre-simulation discussion with the class.

C. Post-Simulation Discussion

Post-simulation discussion with students leads to deeper learning. The instructor should:

• Provide sufficient time for students to reflect on and discuss what they learned from the simulation.

• Integrate the course goals into the post-simulation discussion.

• Ask students explicitly asked how the simulation helped them understand the course goals or how it may have made the goals more confusing.

Educational uses of Simulation

In two areas education use of simulation has potential.

• Replacement model for real world experiences which is reflected by “Jerome Groopman” in the article “A Model Patient” and has many advantages including not putting humans at risk.

• Tweaking simulation model in which, based on exploration a student can learn underlying theories. Even though it has its limitations, for a classroom environment this method is more suitable.

Real world models replacement

In a medical school the usage of simulated models is to replace real human subjects by which the medical students can practice certain general diagnosis or procedure as many time as they want. The advantage of these simulations is not only replacing humans for safety. It is statistically claimed in Groopman’s article that those students who learned through simulations had completed their real operation faster by 29% and also hesitate very less as compared to others.

The simulation contains only essential elements to the task at hand as all other non-essential elements, variables, etc. are removed so as to make the students focus on what is important and simulation represents a simplified model. At the time of operation simulation students are able to ignore the rest of the elements that are around them as they focus on the simulation model they have learned. On the other hand, non-simulation students in their model deal with a more complicated situation. They have a more complicated human model as well as supervisors looking over them. They also do not have much independent experience of operations before due to which their confidence level is low and failure fear is high.

Simulation students are de-sensitized because they do not have traditional fears that come with operating as they have experienced these situations many times before

Exploring and Tweaking Simulation Models

This method is the way to learn underlying theories through exploration for students. They can gain knowledge by having fun. Students can learn the basic concepts through attaining a goal through simulation. There are some simulator games that involved plants in which to attain goals of growth of plant tweaking of variables is required.

Through simulation we can view patterns with effects and cause relationships. To teach the students the material it would be faster in the way of factual learning and if possible these simulations can be the way to enhance what they have learned.

Instructional simulation’s virtual world

A 3D interactive environment where users are immersed in the environment is a virtual world. Users can interact with other users and can manipulate the environment. Users can interact with other users, can begin playing a game, complete course work for an online class, or attend seminars depending on the degree of immersion. Online social networks and discussion groups are already being used to supplement interaction within coursework, such as Facebook and Myspace.

Users create avatars in a virtual world named Second Life. Avatar is nothing but a virtual representation of one user to other users. Within the Second Life world these avatars then interact with any other user. They can attend lectures by professors, can purchase virtual land, can travel, conduct business and even interact. There are always other avatars to interact with as the Second Life is tied into the Internet and is running 24 hours a day.

Virtual learning environment (VLE)

By offering a virtual learning environment (VLE) most universities today make lifelong learning possible. Users can immerse themselves in learning without physically moving to a learning facility, can access learning at different times in their lives that too without interacting with an instructor face to face in real time. In scope and interactivity such VLEs widely vary. Virtual programs, virtual training, virtual labs, virtual classes, virtual library, etc. are examples of such VLEs.

Figure 3.3 Classification of VLE

VLEs are classified into 4 generations by the researchers:

• 1st generation VLE: They provided the first on-line course opportunities in 1992 and consisted in a discussion forums, collection of learning materials, e-mail systems and testing all accessible on line. This type of VEs did not allow for interaction among the different components of the system and was static.

• 2nd generation VLE: These generation VLEs originated in 1996 and are more powerful in database integration and functions like supporting and creating teaching materials, administrating and planning, analyzing and testing results. There are over 80 forms which include WebCT, Blackboard, COSE, Top Class, Learning Space, etc.

• 3rd generation VLE: The 3rd generations VLE specialty is that newest technologies are incorporated and is accessible in non-real and real time such as video and audio conferences with the help of internet, library and administrative functions, seminars, forums, collaboration features for work in groups, labs, planning, development, and of course the learning. Examples of these VLE are the system “Virtual University” (VU), Classroom 2000, InterLabs and Stanford On-line.

• 4th generation VLE: As opposed to the teacher and the ‘local resources’, at the center of these are the user and the ‘global resources’ which represent new learning paradigms and are the future environments. Creation of learning materials, adaption and personalization to a specific function and needs of each user is their main advantage. Most of the 4th generations VLE still being in the developing and planning phases, very few exist. Multi agent technology is one example of supportive technology that allows the interface of data among different systems.

Uses of VLE in education

In education, virtual learning environments are simulated experiences which utilize the pedagogical strategies of instructional modeling and role playing for the teaching of new concepts. The environment in which the experiences are presented is a virtual one often accessed via a computer or other video projection interface. Immersive virtual environment headsets have been used with younger children and students with special needs. The advantages of using instructional simulators via VLEs include:

a. Students are motivated when they are able to use computers and other technology.

b. VLEs allow for interaction, exploration, and experimentation with locations, objects, and environments that would otherwise be unavailable in the absence of the VLE.

c. Instructors can adapt programs and parameters of the virtual learning experience to meet individual learner needs.

d. When multi-user virtual environments are used collaborative and cooperative learning is encouraged.

e. VLEs relate to students the real-world relevance of their learning by extending concepts and skills to application in the simulated environment.

f. Learning can occur in an emotionally and physically safe environment without detrimental consequence.

Distance learning

1. As the technology of distance learning is developing the importance of a physical classroom is getting reduced. If students engage moments within the course, they may do well in distance learning environments.

2. Using goals and objectives to measure the learners’ achievement the VLE is required to simulate the learning process.

3. To familiarize distance learning students of chemistry with an actual chemistry laboratory, 3D virtual laboratory can be used as a tool.

4. The virtual laboratory prepares students for performance expectations in the actual environment and helps to enhance the student’s schema of a chemistry laboratory without replacing the real-world experience.

5. With elementary school students web-based virtual science laboratories are also used. In conjunction with traditional teaching methods students who used a web-based virtual science laboratory received higher grades, performed better academically and found the learning experience more enjoyable.

6. The potential to engage students is found in multi-user virtual environments. Instructors can hold lectures; students can collaborate through chat. When compared to a discussion board, Second Life is a viable alternative for distance learning students to develop group work skills.

Uses in medicine

Medical simulations can be classified in 3 categories:

1. Simulators based on physical models, usually referred to as the Human Patient Simulator (HPS), of which several prototype exist for different purposes.

2. Based on computers VR training simulators i.e. Suture Tutor and LapVR Surgical Simulator.

3. For example a realistic 3D computerized representation of an organ system is a combination of a hybrid model of the first two kinds, with the ability to interface with it through haptic devices.

Figure 3.4 Human Patient Simulator

The use of simulation-based learning in the medical field has many benefits, including patient safety, accelerating diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, unfulfilled demand for medical personnel, medical cost reduction and lowering of medical errors that amount to loss of life and associated costs. The use of current technologies allows for very high fidelity simulations. The current technologies include computer based 3D environment which is Immersive Virtual Environments (IVEs) and also known as serious games. There are also other very highly immersive virtual environments such as Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE). In this by wearing gloves and goggles equipped with sensors the students sits in a projection room. This technology by activating the sense of touch allows the trainee to interface with simulated patient, which makes the simulated learning experience very realistic.

Either medical or other, the best instructional simulators according to research contain following elements:

1. Provide feedback

2. Involve repetitive practice

3. Integrate with the curricula

4. Possess a range of difficulty levels

5. Involve multiple learning strategies

6. Capture clinical variations

7. Occur in a control environment

8. Utilize individualized learning

9. Define expected outcomes

10. Possess validity.

In medical education, Immersive Virtual Environments (IVEs) range from teaching simple skills such as taking a patient’s blood to complex skills such as internal surgery. For different purposes simulations are used by different medical care providers. To provide opportunity for the trainee or student to become proficient by doing practice realistically the IVEs simulates the human body. In surgical procedures, individual assessment, collaborative assessment and patient examination, IVE is commonly used. With IVEs students do practice tension free as they know that these simulations are practice and no problem even if they make mistakes. The anxiety factor is reduced as the students gets safe, controlled environment to learn by the use of IVEs. Students can more openly discuss the symptoms and use all the protocol than they could with a real patient. They address the patients by name, respect their privacy and introduce themselves.

The advantages of simulation are that it saves money and lives by reducing medical errors, the need to replace expensive equipment, operating room time and training time. Users of simulation may practice on different types of patients, each with different case history; respond to user actions with physiological responses and exhibits unique symptoms. After each session the system generates a detailed evaluation which enables supervisors and users to measure the success of simulated procedures.


Instructional Simulation is playing a very important role on society. It focuses on real life facts, concepts of system and its applications. It is imitation of reality which helps students to explore and experiment with system, which is generally not possible with real system. The model of system is generally created with simulation and the behavior of the system is studied.

Range of simulations is from attempts to duplicate complex social processes, to very simple social interactions. Among the most often used pedagogies in government and industry are simulations. Students who think in a scientific manner apply this thinking to a simulation and benefit, as per some evidence, while other students do not. Some evidence is there that those students who uses simulations learns a set of concept very fast then the students in lecture based, traditional class. Online social networks and discussion groups are already being used to supplement interaction within coursework, such as Facebook and Myspace. In scope and interactivity such VLEs widely vary. The anxiety factor is reduced as the students gets safe, controlled environment to learn by the use of IVEs. The advantages of simulation are that it saves money and lives by reducing medical errors, the need to replace expensive equipment, operating room time and training time.

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