eLearning Is dead! Long Live Interactive Instructional Simulations!

Interactive Instructional Simulations: How And When They Can Replace eLearning

The research on trends, and foresight strategies based on those trends, has become one of the most popular tools in predicting the future of any industry. According to Docebo (and Ambient Insight) research on trends in corporate Learning and Development, the demand for eLearning content will fall by 7 % in the next five years, and it will be replaced by simulation and game-based content, respectively: Interactive instructional simulations.

So, What Are Instructional Simulations?

"When students use a model of behavior to gain a better understanding of that behavior, they are doing a simulation. For example:

  • When students are assigned roles as buyers and sellers of some goods and asked to strike deals to exchange the goods, they are learning about market behavior by simulating a market.
  • When students take on the roles of party delegates to a political convention and run the model convention, they are learning about the election process by simulating a political convention.
  • When students create an electric circuit with an online program, they are learning about physics theory by simulating an actual physical set-up" [1].

Interactive Instructional Simulations 

Interactive instructional simulations are models of behavior of tools, processes, products, and/or services. They are real time how-to's, a simulation of (company) tool functionalities or process behaviors. The "real time" part is very important: An interactive instructional simulation presents bite-sized parts of a process in the moment the micro-need occurs. If that sounds too complex, let's see how an interactive instructional simulation solves a problem every company has.

The Problem Interactive Instructional Simulations Solve

Growing organizations have to confront the fact that by becoming more complex, both employees and clients have to learn more services, products, processes and tools they need to use to deliver sound value experience.

Current educational models are obsolete and inefficient; they are too slow in knowledge distribution and fail at knowledge retention. Its content is overwhelming, complicated and boring: It fails to capture learners attention and sacrifices quality of knowledge on account of limited time to learn. The expense of it is having insufficiently educated employees, clients and thus: inefficient business performance.

What Is The Difference Between eLearning And Interactive Instructional Simulations?

  1. End Goal
    The end goal of eLearning is standardized and sequential knowledge distribution and retention. The end goal of interactive instructional simulations is fast knowledge distribution, not sequentially but parallel, however, which enables distribution of information without the need to learn it. It is the knowledge that can be evoked in the moment the micro-need occurs.
  2. A Step-By-Step Guide
    In comparison to sequential eLearning content, interactive instructional simulations have the function of step-by-step guide (of processes, tools, products or services) of bite-sized, hyper-relevant content in real time.
  3. Trial And Error
    Furthermore, simulation is a more effective form of learning because it allows learning by trial and error method in virtual environment, fast and repeating it as many times as needed, which means that there are no consequences because of errors in real systems.
  4. Audiovisual And Interactive Content
    Interactive instructional simulations distribute information using audiovisual and interactive content (classic eLearning content often uses exclusively written form, whose adoption is by and large 9-10 times longer than interactive audiovisual instructional simulations.
  5. Active Engagement
    Since interactive instructional simulations make the need to adopt, learn and retain huge amounts of information obsolete, the need to distribute the knowledge through pre-installed platforms and/or certification of retained knowledge also doesn't exist. The learning doesn't occur through participation, learning occurs through active engagement, which is the Holy Grail of Learning and Development.

The Intention Of Interactive Instructional Simulations

The intention of interactive instructional simulations is to shorten the time, quality and quantity gap between obsolete educational models and to increase employee productivity.

The difference in employee productivity before and after the usage of interactive instructional simulations has exponential effect due to the lack of need to distribute huge amounts of information.

Interactive Instructional Simulations In Practice

Example 1: Customer Service

Let's say your company has more than fifty services and you manage a customer service of two hundred people. In order to serve sound value proposition, you would need all of those two hundred employees to know everything there is to know about those fifty services: their descriptions, their pricing, trouble shooting, if there are any discounts, should the potential client be interested in combining two or more services, whom to call if the service is faulty, whom to send a lead should the customer be interested in buying it, how to send it and what tools to use, how to report a complaint, etc. You get the point...

You might manage the huge amount of information all those employees need to know by training them, but you do not have unlimited resource of trainers. So you resort to your best service agents to serve as trainers also. But, there is a catch; if your best service agents act as trainers, they aren't doing their job, so your service level drops. You might want to implement eLearning, but eLearning also takes time, and since you probably have employee turnover of 30%, it takes several months to train all those new employees to a satisfactory service level of 80%.

Interactive instructional simulations allow all those new agents to have the access to knowledge of tools, processes, products/services and all other know-hows instantly, and they can solve all the problems and have all the answers to all questions without the need to learn them in the first place. Your service level rises, and you've solved the problem of employee turnover by having instant knowledge distribution.

Example 2: IT Company

If you manage an IT company, you probably know the horrors of implementing and/or selling your software to a new customer. Your Project Manager leads the project, and hands over to your customer a huge manual of two hundred pages, where everything about your software is explained. Your company organizes an ex-cathedra education in which you try your best to explain all the functionalities of the new tool your new customers will be using.

But, after a while the knowledge fades, and your customer is left with a two hundred-page manual which nobody reads, because it has two hundred pages, and they do not have the time to search for information they do not understand anyway. So, they start calling your Project Manager, and soon enough, instead of leading another profitable project, your Project Manager is acting as customer service.

By giving your clients access to interactive instructional simulation, not only you have solved the distribution of knowledge issue, but you have also created an ambassador of your product or service that will be satisfied with the value you have offered him.


Being a part of digital transformation is great. We get to use brand new and shiny tools, participate in new organizations and processes, we get to handle great new products and services.

But what good is it if we do not know how to use them? What good is it if our customers do not know how to use them?

That is why digital transformations of anything starts with innovations in digital transformation of education: Interactive instructional simulations.


[1] What are Instructional Simulations?