Engaging workers in simulation‐based e‐learning

November 15, 2017 Off By admin
Engaging workers in simulation‐based e‐learning
This is an interesting paper that evaluates the attitudes towards simulation-based learning in the work context. 
I was interested in this as I was thinking about applying scenarios to my instructional model. Simulations are one of the options and I was hoping to learn how simulation could be applied in the workplace learning  context – I was specifically wondering about the level of technological advancement and sophistication involved in designing and developing simulations  
Simulations can be applied in experimental and experiential learning. Learners are engaged in active learning and have an opportunity to reflect how gained knowledge and skills can be used  (Brown et al., 1989). Learners can explore the cause-and-effect relationships, observe the consequences of their choices without the direct and immediate impact on the current operations or real situation.
In this particular case, the simulation was chosen as a way to provide a flexible and consistent solution for employees in different locations and times who prefer doing practical exercises relevant to their work than reading long explanations. 
Authors explain that they use the term “simulation-based” because  the course they analyse does create immersive 3D simulations” with media-rich  virtual characters and branching multiple-choice questions and consequences.” It is a smaller scale training aiming to provide an opportunity to practice cs and sale skills in a context close to real life.  In their findings, the authors stated that it was established that  “a high degree of realism is not necessarily required from the virtual
characters,
Blended -learning – because it is a combination of online simulation with a live coach.
The paper is focused on simulation-based learning, but there are also terms such as collaborative social interaction, situated social learning, socially situated blended learning which is almost interchangeable. Slotte and Herbert suggest that designing online learning for the workplace should incorporate all principles of situated learning and facilitate social interactions to be successful and effective. Interaction is named by some researchers as a critical factor for learner satisfaction, results, engagement and motivation. 
Authors also outline on advantages of blended learning at work:  A comprehensive experience taking advantage of different methods and tools. It can combine different media and delivery approaches (“can, for example, incorporate a combination of simulations, e-learning, small group work, pair work, instructor support and classroom-based training.“)  what has many advantages (increased flexibility, increases students retention, improved involvement and participation, enhance quality).  The one that interested me was demonstrated by authors n their earlier work: ” the e-learning is more likely to be integrated effectively into the learning culture
in units where learning is not just a one-time event but continues within workplace conversations (e.g. Slotte and Herbert, 2006)”  but also that the “staff needs to be comfortable with using technology”  (the later,  is closely linked with the work culture) (p168).
The outlined research methods (p170-171)  were very detailed and helpful in reconsidering my own approach and gave me an idea of how this can be addressed in the actual paper writing. I really liked how they phrased the main research aim: “Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to increase our appreciation of the learners’ attitudes to the use of this simulation-based course”.
Results confirmed the usefulness of this kind of training –  simulation course and the coach session was perceived as very useful and effective by most respondents.
The complements or strong sides  were in areas of:
Relevance – was about the challenging customer dialogue with which participants easily identified.
Content/engagement program was “engaging” and “cheerful”.
Situated context – the possibility to “try again without the threat of getting the sack”.
Feedback – The importance of receiving feedback both  encouraging and correcting was stressed by participants 
 
I can easily draw on some findings and propositions of this research.  
Simulations are called the next generation of e-learning (Boehle, 2005), but even proponents have concerns regarding the use of simulation products and services at work, the biggest concerns being in the effectiveness, cost, content quality, employee’s perception that they had “not learned”, and management perception that simulations are “not work”. 
 
  • a high rate of positive participant responses is attributable to the proper opportunity to supplement learning with practice.
  • Scaffolding – Second, the most notable positive results of the blended live facilitation relate to the vivid discussion and fruitful debate about the course content. What makes a live coach valuable is setting the stage for learning and helping the employees to identify themselves with the course content thus making it motivating and personally relevant.  At the same time, the coach can provide conceptual knowledge against which the participants can reflect their practical experiences about customer service skills. 
  • Relevance – very important is “appropriate content, and most important, other factors creating opportunities for real-life problem-solving, such as challenging customer dialogue and constructive feedback. These elements are very similar to those identified by Gulz  (2005) and by Baylor and Kim (2005) as components of situated social interaction.”