8 Benefits of Simulation-Based eLearning for Learners (and Instructional Designers)

elearning image on laptop

The Benefits of Simulation-Based eLearning for Learners (and Instructional Designers)

A study in the Journal of Effective Teaching titled Learning by Doing: An Empirical Study of Active Learning Techniques found that one teaching technique aided in increasing learning more than other teaching methods.

Performed in a college classroom setting, the study concluded that in-class activities were more effective than lectures, demonstrations and discussions in aiding comprehension and application of learned knowledge in practical tests.

According to learning theorist and author of the ground-breaking book Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development David A. Kolb, learning is a four-step process: watching, thinking, feeling and doing. The active technique of ‘doing’ is critical to learning success.

Simulation eLearning incorporates doing, by mimicking real-world situations in which learners have to perform the tasks they have learned, within a safe environment.

8 ways learning outcomes are better with simulations

#1 Hands-on experience minus the risk

There are obvious risks to putting learners in live projects where even a few errors can have serious repercussions. A simulation program that looks and functions like the real-world application or task offers a risk-free environment to learn and practice by doing. Simulations encourage learners to think logically and/or creatively, depending on the industry and lesson. It could be as simple as learning to fill and send forms, to survival or life-or-death scenarios in high-consequence industries.

#2 Psychological safety

For best results, learning should occur in a safe environment where learners don’t feel as if they’re performing in conditions where their personal risk may be at stake, such as reputational damage from doing the wrong thing. Simulation elearning removes fear and doubt from learners’ minds, empowering them to focus solely on moving through the steps of practice and not feel held back emotionally in any way.

#3 Unlimited tries to get it right

Simulation elearning offers unlimited tries to learners, allowing them to rectify their errors until they are able to achieve the desired/correct result. Learners get numerous opportunities to apply their knowledge practically, which goes a long way in helping newly acquired skills really sink in and giving learners the confidence to perform in real-world situations.

#4 Immediate feedback

Unlike traditional learning methods, where feedback is delivered after the completion of a test, simulation elearning programs can provide immediate feedback even as learners are running through the steps of an activity. This allows learners to address their errors instantly, as well as make note of those mistakes and avoid committing them further on in the task.

#5 A test of cognitive and creative abilities

In simulation elearning activities that involve multiple scenarios, there is no one correct answer, only different choices that lead learners to the same conclusion. The objective of such tasks is to encourage learners to find the safest or most efficient route to a solution. It allows learners to apply their skills in different scenarios for a more well-rounded understanding of real-life situations.

#6 Better learning engagement for technical training

Traditional technical training is inherently quite dull. Although video, audio and infographics are making learning more engaging, they continue to be passive learning formats. Simulation via elearning makes learning participative by allowing learners to do rather than just assimilate and understand. Businesses can break down long technical lessons into multiple simulation models to boost learner interest. Simulation elearning programs can incorporate gaming features to further increase learner engagement.

#7 Potential for immersive learning experiences

Simulations in elearning have come a long way, adding 3D elements to make courses more visually engaging and fun. A 3D simulation can model the exact situation or scenario, such as walking field service technicians through complex maintenance procedures, or imitating conversations for a learning module on sales negotiations.

#8 Simulation elearning delivers the impact businesses seek by:

  • Mapping out real-life steps to help learners grasp the ideal procedure they need to follow.
  • Adding conversations, suggestions/hints, cautionary messages and any element that aids active decision-making.
  • Anticipating and addressing potential fail points to allow learners to make mistakes and rectify them, as well as rewarding correct decisions and stating the impact of less effective choices.
  • Adding the necessary details such as audio, polls, reward points, and set the right atmosphere (fun or suspenseful) that suits the training in question.

While simulations in elearning should faithfully replicate real-world scenarios, it is best to exclude the stressful aspects of the training and focus on features critical to individual skill-building or real-life teamwork. Adding one too many challenges or putting learners through progressively stressful situations can defeat the purpose of learning and exaggerate any existing negative perceptions about the nature of the job.

A worthwhile skill for instructional designers

According to research from Docebo and Ambient Insight, demand for elearning content will fall by 7% in the next five years, and will be replaced by simulation and game-based content. Instructional designers can make the most of the emerging demand for 2D and 3D simulations by offering simulation and scenario-based elearning. Besides marketing the beneficial outcomes of simulation-based educating for trainees, designers can also sell the business benefits of simulation.

Businesses can save considerable time and expense without compromising on training speed or quality. Simulation elearning courses are modular by design, and can be scaled to instructive aims precisely. They can meet short- and long-term training needs cost-effectively.

Simulation elearning finds its highest value in high-consequence industries with significant risk and compliance requirements, and in instructing environments where self-learning is emphasized or a large number of employees work remotely. Simulation-driven elearning programs can also take the pressure off trainers, teachers, and managers in high-turnover industries. They deliver dynamic and enjoyable experiences when the tutelage helps learners with dry subjects such as compliance or confusing topics such as mitigating ethical tensions at work.

The good news is that you can create interactive training experiences with your existing content. With SimTutor, you can map out and visualize branching scenarios easily using the drag and drop function, upload media, add quizzes and hotspots, recreate real-life working scenarios, and track and report on training, all on one platform.


About the author


SimTutor Inc is a global leader in simulation-based learning.

SimTutor Author is an authoring tool designed to help you build interactive procedural simulations and branched scenarios for any industry where realistic, just-in-time, measurable training is critical. 

SIMTICS is a library of ready-to-use simulations for learning medical and healthcare procedures and skills, powered by SimTutor Author.