It can be a real challenge to “engage” your learners in a simulation-based course. Traditional “Show me” and “Let me try” simulations, which are supposed to be guided learning methods are more like spoon-feeding rather than guidance. At the same time, you can’t really do away with the simulations, can you? So how do you make them more engaging and retain learners’ attention so they don’t just click-click-click through the course and get their completion certificates?
However I do believe that the same basics apply to all types of courses as far as “engagement” and “involvement” of the learners is concerned – and that is that one of the best ways to engage learners is to use context.
A typical simulation-based elearning course will have “show me” and “let me try” simulations with guidance at every step. However, once you have shown learners how to complete different tasks in the application, you could try including scenario based exercises instead of step-by-step ‘let me try’ simulations. Give the learner a scenario that they can relate to from their regular work-life, give them a task to complete and all the information they would need to complete that task in the application and then ask them to actually perform the steps to compete the task in the simulated environment. This will be much more engaging than giving them a step-list and asking them to perform the steps one by one!
Another way of engaging the learners is to have them do the “let me try” exercises within a game. So, once you present the learner with the information they need, and tasks they have to complete using that information, get them to use the “shortest possible route” within the application to complete the tasks. The more tasks they complete using the shortest route, the more the points!
For the “show me” demonstrations, try to use edumercials instead of just “Show me” simulations. Edumercials are 5-6 minute self playing animations that are either story or scenario-based and demonstrate the use of different features within an application. The demonstration is woven into the story or scenario to make it engaging.
So just a simple trick, like adding context to the simulations can make them more engaging. Does anyone have any more ideas on this?