Learning styles have always been more of a complication for me than a guide. It's clear that we need to stir the pot well to accommodate a wide group of learners, but in the end, visual, auditory and read/write are a prelude or a sidekick for the kinesthetic. Doing is simply innate and it's in our nature to learn by doing. Somewhere along the way came the theory part (which don't get me wrong has its benefits and purposes) and complicated matters. But for the simpler everyday tasks and skills doing will always be the more effective way. So, let's see why eLearning is the king of doing. Or as I like to call it "The five S's of virtuality":
Virtualization of processes and practices has been around for a while – pilots have been training by simulation for more than a 100 years. Of course the reality gap has been narrowing to a point that Virtual Reality has made simulators almost indistinguishable from the real thing. At least for training purposes. Undoubtedly, simulation is the most powerful tool in the eLearning designer's kit. Wherever there is a skill to be learned it can be taught through rigging a virtual environment for exploration and self-teaching or guided one. And in most cases it is much cheaper to build than the real thing. It requires no maintenance and no expert's time – just good design and smart development.
Engagement skyrockets when employing a simulation for the learner. It's always thrilling to try hands on the thing you are learning. Everyone's eager to try out and get better in the process. It is so natural for us humans, to the point we even forget it is a learning experience. So, with a little bit of creativity almost every learning goal can be pursued through simulation. And the learner will thank us for it.
Probably the most obvious, but also the most precious perk of (virtual) simulation is that it provides an environment where mistakes are not punished. What better incentive than the absence of fear. It is such an inviting and cozy feeling. Pushing the limits, going to the extremes are a naturally mischievous part of the learning process and once they yield no pain, the gain is twofold. Your best pal the Undo button is always there for you. Who doesn't love to feel both safe and in control.
Slow and easy
The absence of a human trainer has its benefits as well. Real world learning takes a portion of an expert's time which always has a cost and is practically never endless. Not so with a simulator. The learner can take all the time they need. No pressure. Just them and the practice. Whenever, wherever.
Another advantage over instructor lead training – the learner can come back at any time and retry, relearn or refresh. All of us need the repetition when it comes to practice. Some less, some more, but it's the tried and true way. And with a simulation the learner can put in all the hours they want or need to ace a skill.
Remember this sssssnake next time you design an eCourse and let's make the virtual a better reality.
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