6 Tips To Design Effective eLearning Simulations
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How To Design Effective eLearning Simulations: 6 Tips For eLearning Professionals

Regardless of the subject matter, performance goals, or eLearning budget, every eLearning professional is working toward one all-important objective; to have an impact on their online learners. Ultimately, you want them to facilitate positive change, challenge their assumptions, and build on their eLearning experience. This is probably why eLearning simulations are commonly used in Instructional Design. System simulations are immersive and interactive eLearning tools giving learners a firsthand look at how their choices, behaviors, and actions will play out in the real world. Best of all, it's in a risk-free environment. Here are PulseLearning's 6 tips to help you create meaningful and effective eLearning simulations for your online learners.

1. Create Stories And Characters Based On Audience Research

For your eLearning simulations to be truly effective, online learners must be able to relate to what's happening on the screen. They have to connect with the eLearning characters, environment, and challenges on a deeper level. This is why it's crucial to do your audience research beforehand and step inside the shoes of your online learners. Learn as much as you can about what your online learners need to learn, the obstacles they face on a regular basis, and which behaviors they must improve. Use all this information to develop eLearning characters that personify their goals and needs. This pulls online learners into the eLearning experience and gets them emotionally connected.

2. Be Clear About Your Learning Objectives

Before you even start planning your eLearning simulation or choosing your images and background music, you should be thinking about your learning objectives. Ultimately, eLearning simulations are more than just entertainment. Their main purpose is to give online learners the eLearning tools, experiences, and online resources they need to reach their goals. For example, a new hire may need to learn how to complete a work-related task so that they are fully prepared for their first day at work. Make sure that every member of your eLearning team is on the same page and knows about the performance gaps or problems you'll be focusing on.

3. Stress Should Be Part Of The eLearning Experience

eLearning simulations that are easy and risk-free are usually ineffective. This is because online learners need some degree of stress and pressure to test their mettle. They must be able to see how they'll handle the situation in the real world and identify their areas for improvement. There should also be some degree of conflict involved, such as an argument between two eLearning characters or a difficult challenge that the protagonist must overcome. There is a limit to how much stress your online learners can handle, however. In general, don’t overload your eLearning simulations with problems that are overly difficult.

4. Make Sure The Simulation Mimics Real-World Situations

This is one of the most important aspects of designing an eLearning simulation because it gives online learners the power to identify the real-world benefits and applications of the subject matter. The eLearning simulation should help them understand how all the information can be used and in what context. Life in the real world comes with its fair share of obstacles and challenges. Online learners must be able to handle all the complexities of these challenges, even if there are multiple steps or skills involved. For example, while they are conducting a sales transaction, they may have to help another customer with their return or deal with a malfunctioning piece of equipment. Effective eLearning simulations give learners the chance to see how they'll handle the chaos that occurs in everyday life so that they can be prepared for any situation.

5. Determine The Degree Of Interaction Beforehand

Some eLearning simulations may involve basic drag-and-drop interactions, while others may feature lengthy decision paths or software reenactments. You must determine the level of eLearning interactivity that your online learners require, taking your eLearning authoring tool and experience into account. For example, you may want to create a highly interactive and tactile eLearning simulation, but your knowledge of programming language is limited. Thus, you may have to use eLearning templates and other user-friendly eLearning tools that don't allow for much creative control. It's also important to consider the amount of detail you want to include. Are you going to add images that feature an abundance of clickable objects? Are you going to design a detail-rich microworld that online learners can explore on their own?

6. Develop An Effective eLearning Assessment Strategy

Every eLearning simulation should feature some type of eLearning assessment so that online learners can track their progress and get immediate eLearning feedback. This may be in the form of a series of branching paths that lead online learners to different outcomes, or a quick quiz at the end of an eLearning simulation to test their knowledge or skills. For example, online learners must prove that they know all the steps in a task and can complete the process in a certain time limit. eLearning assessments also give you the opportunity to determine the effectiveness of your eLearning simulation. If online learners are still unable to finish the task after the eLearning simulation, you may need to rethink your eLearning strategy or add more detail.

The key to crafting an effective eLearning simulation is to keep your eye on the prize, as well on as the learning goals and objectives of your eLearning course. Make sure that every element of your eLearning simulation, from the images to the audio narration, gives your online learners greater insight into the subject matter. In other words, if you're including something just because it "looks good" or offers entertainment value, it's probably best to just leave it out altogether.

Are you still wondering if simulations are the ideal option for your online training course? Read the article When To Include Online Training Simulations: 6 Instances To Consider to discover some instances when you should seriously consider including simulations in your next online training course.

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