Hands-on learning through computer simulations

By Anita Bowness
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/28/2005

As learning and development professionals understand too well, adults learn through many different modes and methods. E-learning, in its early days, generated much hype on the premise that online programs could incorporate many different media elements to create a rich, interactive learning experience while addressing different learning styles and preferences. But this was too costly.

So, to reduce time, effort and development budgets, many e-learning initiatives focused on distilling original classroom-based programs into online text presentations and posting content from in-house subject matter experts to intranet sites. But this form of online content does not engage learners. The result is a perception that e-learning is boring, dull and ineffective.

The question then becomes: how do trainers provide learners with engaging, interactive e-learning content in a cost-effective way? One answer may be simulations: computer-based training programs that provide the learner with hands-on training for a particular task or tool. They replicate on-the-job processes and the function of tools or systems to allow the learner to practise and master knowledge and skills in an interactive environment, with feedback for correct and incorrect actions and choices.