Enhancing authentic immersive learning experiences through simulations
In this episode of the Tales of Teaching Online Podcast, Ash Quarrell talks with Dr Tara Draper about using immersive simulations for learning. During his time at Deakin, Ash was part of the Digital Learning Team within Deakin Learning Futures and has a wealth of knowledge and experience around the use of immersive simulations and technology to enhance learning.
The benefits of immersive learning
Immersive learning simulations can provide authentic, engaging and realistic learning experiences for learners, helping them achieve the unit learning objectives. As Ash explains, ‘Simulation is an awesome tool that puts the learner in an active role. It allows the learner to take control of what they do and make critical decisions and influence change in how things are going to happen in that space’.
Ash describes some of the advantages of simulation for both learner and facilitator including the following:
- Seeing participants engage in the learning.
- Full control over safety when replicating potentially dangerous situations.
- Scalability for large cohorts.
- Opportunity for all learners to participate.
Pedagogy before technology
Immersive learning simulation experiences can range from the more basic, yet realistic, role player simulations to complex, high-end technology driven activities. Ash talks about how basic skills simulations can often be just as effective as very expensive technological applications, ‘The big pitfall for a lot of people is that technology equals simulation. It’s always reminding yourself that you know pedagogy before technology. It’s always finding what you’re learning objectives are and building around those learning objectives.’
Using role players can provide highly effective learning experiences that challenge learners and help them achieve the learning goals. This approach is low cost and whilst often easier in person, can also be highly effective in an online environment.
Creating and authentic environment
Props, 360° photography, soundscapes, and recreating smells can all help created an authentic environment that helps the learner fully immerse in the experience. As Ash suggests, ‘You don’t have to do too much. The biggest part for the immersion is removing the observers from the space… to allow participants to be active in an authentic way with the role players’. Ash says that choosing role players that are not known to the learners will also help with this.
‘By understanding what you are trying to achieve and what you want to see your participants doing, that’s the best way to make sure you’ve got a great product.’
Listen to episode 61 to learn more about immersive learning experiences through simulations.