Simulations bring together technology, learning, and research to solve a practical problem in skill development.
We know that people need to develop new skills & get experience using those new skills. Yet, who wants to turn people loose in organisations when they may not know what they are doing and may make mistakes? No one. Thus, the chicken & egg problem in skill development. It is just as frustrating for organisations as it is for their employees. For educators, it is often even more frustrating because their students cannot get a good job or even a good placement/ internship without experience, yet how are they meant to get experience if they never get the chance to develop their practical skills?
If you are a reader of philosophy, you might have noticed the ‘simulacra’ part of our name and if not, it is helpful to explain it because it does ground what we do. The concept of simulacra has been around since the days of the Greeks and it represents a likeness or representation of a person or thing. Its meaning can range from everything from a perfect replication of reality to something that bears no resemblance, but takes on a life of its own.
Simulations Develop Efficacy
What we take from simulacra is that we are attempting to create a virtual reality — something that we know is not real but feels real enough that we can suspend our disbelief and have an authentic immersive learning experience.
What this provides for learners – no matter whether professionals or students – is the opportunity to gain efficacy in their own skills. Efficacy is a two-part concept. First, our belief in our ability to perform a specific action (i.e., the skill). Second, that if we perform the skill successfully, it will lead to positive outcomes. The concept of efficacy grounds most good learning & behaviour change theory these days.
What is brilliant is that there are four ways that we can gain efficacy:
- Direct past experience
- Modelling or vicarious experience
- Social persuasion (being encouraged or discouraged)
- Psychological factors (positive or negative feelings before performing behaviours)
Using simulation-based learning lets acknowledge that when we are developing student & employee skills, they lack direct past experience. Simulation-based learning creates an environment where participants can directly practice skills they have already learned about in a realistic context. Let us emphasise this again — a realistic context. But the controlled environment also lets us focus on encouraging good skill performance and discourage bad skill performance without leaving the organisation or employee at risk. Importantly, because it is still a simulated environment it helps us to reinforce a positive experience, even with less that perfect performance.
The realistic context and targeting efficacy is what sets SimulaCranium’s approach apart from basically every other simulation tool or approach that we have seen available. It builds on decades of learning theory and gives learners a decidedly modern experience.
In a nutshell — this is what SimulaCranium is about — getting peoples’ head space in the right place to perform tasks well without necessarily relying on prior experience to guide them. For employers, it adds the benefit of identifying strengths and weaknesses in their team’s knowledge, abilities, and situational capacity ahead of time. It can be used as an investment in upgrading their employees’ abilities, in screening candidates for positions, and as a diagnostic tool for organisations to improve their ability to manage different situations.