Session 9 Response to Prompts

1. Define the terms “Game” and “Simulation” as they relate to eLearning.

According to Horton (2011), the two terms can be used almost interchangeably, and are defined as interactions that allow a learner to practice tasks, apply knowledge, and infer principles while having fun.  Games may have an emphasis on score-keeping, and can be thought of as a simulation combined with a “personally challenging task” (Horton, 2011, p. 325).  On the other hand, simulations may look more realistic, and may be designed to more accurately reflect the interactions and/or work environment they are designed to simulate, providing familiar context for the learning.

2. What are the key characteristics of a Simulation?

In contrast to a demonstration, a simulation allows the learner to control the sequence of events.  Instead of being passive, learners are actively deciding and acting within the simulation.  A simulation stimulates learning through the practice of “doing,” not just watching or listening to an explanation, and the authentic feedback in response to that “doing” is what provides the learning experience.

3. What are some of the strengths or advantages of Games and Simulations in eLearning?

Here’s a great PDF on the strengths of games and simulations in e-learning.

It includes a discussion of the following ten pedagogic reasons for including games in e-learning:

  •  Motivation
  •  Learner-centricity
  •  Personalization
  •  Incremental learning
  •  Contextualization
  •  Rich media mix
  •  Safe failure
  • Immediate feedback
  •  Lots of practice and reinforcement
  •  Lots of collaboration

4. What are some of the weaknesses or disadvantages of Games and Simulations in eLearning?

Dr. Heather Coffey from The UNC School of Education, in this page states:

“games may be more distracting than a typical learning tool and that the goals of the games do not necessarily always align with the learning goals of the classroom.”

I think another perceived weakness of learning games and simulations is their necessary simplification.  Often, creating an activity that is fun requires the glossing over of certain details that must be dealt with in reality.  Those details are often extremely important to the task, but would be hard to design into a game or simulation, and so therefore they may not get the attention they deserve.

5. Pick a topic and describe a game or a simulation that would be an effective learning activity.

At the convention where I was working the booth this past week, a question came up regarding the positioning of our products, and how, under certain circumstances, the capacity of our products must be de-rated by 30% or even 50%.  I would like to create a simulation of a job site where a user has to attach our products to a variety different fasteners.  Supplied with the load weight, the learner would have to measure the fastener’s dimensions (pad eye, or lug nut, or swivel hoist ring) and then, using our catalog, determine the appropriate shackle to use.  For scoring, I would use the visual of a truck driving from the yard to the job site, with points being subtracted for every trip (gas + time).  But then a bonus would be paid out if the choice was correct.


6. Describe the development process you would use to create the game or simulation described above.


Rather than try to do all of this in 3D, I think I would choose a 2D approach.  I’d hate to use Flash, because I’d like learners to be able to play this game on an iPad.  So, I’d probably program it in GWT (Google Web Toolkit) or straight JavaScript.

1) I would write out the different scenarios, with the load weights and fastener types, noting which shackles should be used.

2) I’d create the graphical assets:

  • the truck
  • the different job site environments
  • the front, top, and side views of the shackles and the fasteners
  • any other objects that would be populating the different job site scenes

3) I’d build and program interactivity into the interface

4) I’d program the scoring mechanism

5) I’d record voice-over narration for the activity

6) I’d get some formative evaluation to see what I should change

7) I would revise it.

8) I would release it.



Horton, William. E-Learning by Design (Second Edition). (2011) San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Posted in Assignments
4 comments on “Session 9 Response to Prompts
  1. newberry says:

    Very nice, although I disagree with Horton about games and simulations being the same thing.

    • I like the definitions that you provided in your email, stating that a game is an “artificial construct that has its own rules and objectives that can be, but need not be realistic” and simulations “attempt to mirror or replicate reality to the degree that they can so as to replace an experience that may be dangerous, difficult, or expensive to deliver.” Thank you for augmenting the material provided by the text!

  2. bruceosburn says:

    Nice post as usual. I especially appreciate the true-to-life simulation you describe. I can see learners wanting to experiment with the different configurations, and it seems to make a clear connection to the job site.

    • Thanks, Bruce! I can’t wait to actually start implementing the numerous ideas that have been arcing through my brain this past quarter! I think this is one I’d like to get started on pretty quickly!

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