Simulation as an instructional technique offers tremendous benefit as a bridge between theory and practice. Unfortunately this often this comes at a price that can limits is practical application and authenticity.
My class mate Angela does an excellent job of highlighting the application of simulation in the nursing environment to maximize learning in her digital project Simulation: Experiential Learning . Its no surprise that in complex learning scenarios that are highly situation dependent there is value in the great expense (upwards of $100,000) for simulators that can mimic a real person as much as possible. Where life and death are concerned the price of authenticity is worth it.
But does expensive technology have to be used to ensure authenticity? I can still remember learning artificial resuscitation where we practiced on a buddy. Low fidelity but felt pretty authentic to me…and kind of weird (maybe dangerous?) having your lungs inflated by someone else.
So how do you make simulations more authentic:
Real people: While there is an inherent unpredictability of an individual and their responses may not be clinical there is a certain authenticity to human interactions that cant be replaced by machine.
Real places: the classroom is seldom the environment of practice (except in PIDP!). Consider the influences of being in the actual environment of practice.
Real tools: simulations tools, thanks to technology, are now more prevalent and cheaper than ever. Using virtual tools instead of real ones should be done with caution
Real problems: this is a tenant of simulations in general and should be adhered to. The lure of technology may introduce limitations that tempt us to alter scenarios to suit the fidelity of the simulation.
In the sales training I do I always incorporate a role play exercise. This is a low fidelity simulation of a real world sales experience designed primarily for students to develop a mindfulness for their sales process. It also requires them to think quickly and respond; valuable skills in sales. While I don’t think Ill be incorporating a VR headset or a customer “dummy” I’ ll definitely be looking for ways to make it more authentic.