Gaming and simulation

Simulations are a great way to learn more about

Subjects take on positions in game simulations that are governed by a set of laws. Mock trials, for example, have been held with actual jury candidates, judges, and cases, and they are extremely realistic. Field simulations are free of rigid guidelines, use extremely realistic staged environments, and allow participants to believe they are taking part in a natural event. These may be so lifelike that subjects in simulations involving negative actions can actually experience damage. Perhaps the most realistic simulation substitute for deception is role playing. Although the role player is aware of the illusions produced, he or she is expected to behave as though the situation were actual. Geller (1982) had participants role play the different conditions of Milgram’s obedience experiment using Milgram’s tools. He confirmed Milgram’s findings!

Environments for Inquiry-Based Learning that are Enhanced by Technology

Simulations, sports, and adventures, as well as remote laboratories, data sets, and hypermedia environments, are technological environments that are ideal for inquiry learning. All of these environments are founded on the fact that learners must infer information from the environment rather than being directly confronted with it. For example, students must infer relationships between variables by manipulating them and observing their behaviour; this relationship is not clearly stated in the environment. Hypermedia environments (e.g., WISE; see Linn et al., 2004b) can be an exception, where knowledge is often presented in a more straightforward manner. In all other environments, students must make their own inferences to see what knowledge is available.

The situation in which learners conduct experiments by changing the values of variables and observing the results of their experiments is a basic method of inquiry learning. This form of investigation can take place in physical laboratories, such as Klahr and Nigam’s wooden ramp, or in technology-enhanced learning (TEL) settings. TEL environments can imitate a real laboratory (van Joolingen et al., 2005), provide learners with virtual environments based on simulations (Blake and Scanlon, 2007; de Jong and van Joolingen, 1998), or include a combination of real and virtual offerings (Blake and Scanlon, 2007; de Jong and van Joolingen, 1998), or include a combination of real and virtual offerings in exceptional cases (Zacharia, 2007). The benefits of TEL environments are that they provide students with a secure atmosphere in which they can experiment (and redo) with ease. Furthermore, technology allows for the use of scaffolds for students (see later). There is a benefit for students in virtual learning environments on the acquisition of conceptual skills, according to research comparing physical and virtual learning environments (Zacharia and de Jong, in preparation).

Zimmerman (2007: 217) cites a number of studies that indicate that simply doing inquiry tasks contributes to more skilled inquiry method execution. However, it is now clear that the only way to achieve successful learning is to use a scaffolded or assisted inquiry mechanism (Mayer, 2004). These effects have primarily been observed for domain awareness, but they have also been recorded for inquiry skills (Linn et al., 2006).

What Is Multimedia Instruction and How Does It Work?

Assume you’ve developed an interest in solar energy, specifically solar cells, as a means of helping the world. You go to the library and find a magazine article that uses terms and diagrams to illustrate how solar cells function. You go online and find a website with a narrated animation explaining how solar cells function, as well as a simulation game that lets you see how changing the number of cells, their orientation, and the amount of sunlight affects the amount of electricity generated. You also go to a solar cell company meeting at your civic centre, where a speaker gives a PowerPoint presentation on solar cells.

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