eLearning Design and Development

Could Simulations Help You Capture the Holy Grail of eLearning?

The perfect combination of learning, application and performance: It’s what every eLearning professional wants learners to get out of a program. It’s the Holy Grail of eLearning, proving that the delivery and material get results.

Of course, if you really want to capture the Holy Grail, you’re going to need a lot more than a few PowerPoint presentations. Instead, utilizing simulation-based eLearning could help get you there. As learners participate in and test out their newfound knowledge and skills, they’re more likely to engage with the material and apply what they’ve learned in real world situations. The improvement is then properly attributed to the training, and that Holy rests safely in your hands – until your next eLearning task, anyway.

Understanding eLearning simulations

Before we dive into the benefits and design considerations, let’s first define eLearning simulations. Simply put, eLearning simulations are interactive virtual environments that replicate real-life situations or scenarios to provide learners with practical experience in a risk-free setting. They allow learners to explore and experiment without the fear of making mistakes that could lead to costly consequences in the real world.

When Simulations Work

While simulations have proven to be highly effective in training and learning settings, they’re not ideal for every situation. Instead, reserve simulation environments, exercises and games for when the training is hands-on and skill-based. When a learner is tasked with following a new technique or changing the way things used to be done, simulations make sense: They give learners a chance to practice in a controlled environment before entering a real world setting.

Simulations don’t really make sense when eLearning is knowledge based only. Take compliance training, for example: Learners don’t need to “act out” or test out compliance before going to work. Instead, compliance training is one of those knowledge-based or “need to know” tenants of onboarding, so information-based delivery methods are usually more appropriate.

Still, there are a number of areas where simulations are highly effective and instrumental in achieving the highest degree of eLearning success:

  • Sales training
  • Safety procedure training
  • Military applications
  • High-risk environments (learners can test out new techniques before applying them on the job in a high-risk situation).
  • Any time a change in behavior is required for the learner to be successful.

The benefits of using eLearning simulations in corporate training

Simulations offer a range of benefits for corporate training programs. They provide a safe and engaging environment for employees to practice and apply new skills, leading to improved retention and transfer of knowledge. Simulations can also be tailored to specific job roles or industries, making them a valuable tool for targeted training initiatives. They can also save time and resources by reducing the need for physical training facilities or expensive equipment.

How eLearning simulations improve employee skills

One of the key advantages of eLearning simulations is their ability to improve employee skills through experiential learning. By allowing learners to practice and apply new skills in a realistic environment, they can build confidence and competence faster than traditional training methods. Simulations also provide opportunities for employees to learn from their mistakes in a safe setting, reinforcing important concepts and improving knowledge retention.

Designing effective eLearning simulations for corporate training

Designing effective simulations requires careful consideration of several factors, including learning objectives, audience, and technology. It’s important to identify the key skills or knowledge areas you want to target and design the simulation to reflect real-world scenarios that align with these objectives. The audience should also be considered, with simulations tailored to their needs and skill levels. Finally, the technology used to deliver the simulation should be chosen based on factors such as accessibility, compatibility, and user experience.

Factors to consider when designing eLearning simulations

When designing eLearning simulations for corporate training, it’s important to consider a number of factors to ensure they are effective in achieving the desired learning outcomes. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

Identifying learning objectives

Before designing any eLearning simulation, it’s essential to identify the specific learning objectives that you want to achieve. This will help you tailor the simulation to meet the needs of your audience and ensure that it provides a valuable learning experience. You should be clear about what knowledge, skills, and behaviors you want your learners to develop and incorporate these objectives into the simulation design.

Tailoring simulations to audience needs

Different learners have different needs, preferences, and learning styles, so it’s important to tailor your eLearning simulations accordingly. You should consider the characteristics of your audience, including their age, experience, education level, and cultural background to design simulations that are appropriate for their needs. 

Choosing the right technology and platform

There are a wide range of technologies and platforms available for designing eLearning simulations, and it’s important to choose the right ones for your needs. You should consider factors such as the complexity of your simulation design, the size of your audience, and the level of interactivity required. You should also ensure that the technology and platform you choose are compatible with your existing learning management system and other tools.

Incorporating feedback and continuous improvement

Once you’ve designed and implemented your eLearning simulation, it’s important to gather feedback from learners and continuously improve the simulation based on this feedback. You can use surveys, quizzes, and other evaluation tools to gather feedback on the effectiveness of your simulation and identify areas for improvement. You can then use this feedback to refine the simulation design and create an even more effective learning experience. By continuously improving your simulations, you can ensure that they remain relevant, engaging, and effective over time.

Challenges and considerations when implementing eLearning simulations

While eLearning simulations offer many benefits, there are also challenges and considerations to keep in mind when implementing them in corporate training programs. Here are some of the most important challenges and considerations:

Overcoming resistance to change

One of the biggest challenges when implementing eLearning simulations is overcoming resistance to change. Employees may be used to traditional training methods and may be hesitant to embrace new technologies and learning formats. To overcome this resistance, it’s important to communicate the benefits of eLearning simulations clearly and provide ample training and support for learners.

Ensuring compliance and regulatory requirements

Depending on the nature of your organization and industry, there may be specific compliance and regulatory requirements that you need to meet when implementing eLearning simulations. For example, if you work in the healthcare industry, you may need to ensure that your simulations are compliant with HIPAA regulations. It’s important to understand these requirements and ensure that your simulations meet them.

Addressing cultural and language barriers

You may need to address cultural and language barriers when implementing eLearning simulations. You should consider the cultural backgrounds and language abilities of your learners and design simulations that are appropriate for their needs. You may need to provide translations or subtitles for learners who are not proficient in the language of the simulation.

By considering these challenges and considerations and implementing strategies to address them, you can ensure that your eLearning simulations are effective in enhancing employee learning and development.

Evaluating the effectiveness of eLearning simulations

Measuring the effectiveness of eLearning simulations is crucial for assessing the return on investment and identifying areas for improvement. This can be done through various methods, such as measuring learning outcomes and ROI, gathering feedback and incorporating improvements, and tracking employee performance and progress.

After implementing eLearning simulations in your corporate training program, it’s important to evaluate their effectiveness to ensure that they are achieving the desired outcomes. Here are some important aspects to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of eLearning simulations:

Measuring learning outcomes and ROI

It’s important to measure the learning outcomes of your eLearning simulations to ensure that they are achieving the desired knowledge and skill development. You can measure learning outcomes through assessments and tests, and also by gathering feedback from learners. Additionally, measuring the return on investment (ROI) of your eLearning simulations can help justify the cost of the technology and platform used.

Gathering feedback and incorporating improvements

Gathering feedback from learners and incorporating improvements based on that feedback is crucial to the success of eLearning simulations. You can gather feedback through surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Based on this feedback, you can identify areas for improvement and make changes to your simulations to enhance their effectiveness.

Tracking employee performance and progress

Tracking employee performance and progress is important to ensure that they are applying what they have learned through the eLearning simulations in their day-to-day work. You can track employee performance through metrics such as productivity, customer satisfaction, and quality of work. Additionally, tracking employee progress can help identify areas where additional training or support may be necessary.

Making the Switch to Simulation Training

Feel like simulation training is your best bet? Start by identifying which of your eLearning programs would benefit from the addition of a simulation or role-playing situation. Again, focus on learning objectives that are performance-based, like sales or customer service. Any time a learner would benefit from hands-on experience, simulation works.

Sure, simulation can be high tech: Obviously the program used to teach a bomb squad how to dismantle a threat is going to be vastly different from a simulation for face-to-face sales. Starting with role-playing among participants, something as simple as designing a simulated customer or service experience allows you to implement simulations in your eLearning program almost immediately.

Eventually, role playing, games and even computerized simulation training can give you a method to accurately gauge the proficiency of each learner. In the end, capturing that Holy Grail of education, application and performance may be less about luck and more about practice makes perfect.

The future of eLearning simulations in corporate training

As technology continues to advance, the potential applications of eLearning simulations in corporate training are expanding. From virtual reality to gamification, there are exciting new ways to incorporate simulations into your training programs. By embracing these innovations, you can create more engaging and effective learning experiences that enhance employee skills and drive business success.

eLearning simulations are a powerful tool for enhancing employee skills and performance in corporate training programs. By providing a safe and engaging environment for learners to practice and apply new skills, simulations can improve knowledge retention and build confidence.