Converting to Simulation-Enhanced Training

Converting traditional lecture-and-discussion training courses to a more effective simulation-enhanced learning approach does not have to be difficult.

In most situations, simulations will give you an increase in learner engagement, retention, and motivation over traditional training methods. You can achieve a time savings over traditional lecture-plus-discussion workshops by using simulations, as well. Here is an example of how to convert a traditional half-day workshop into a simulation-enhanced workshop.


Ethical Decision Making as the Example

For this example, I’ll use an instructor-led, half-day ethical decision making course. This is a very common, reasonable, and potentially effective design. While this example shows the instructor-led delivery mode, the same general principles you will see in this example also apply to converting e-learning courses from traditional to simulation-enhanced designs.

Get the PDF before and after example here


The Design Concepts behind the Second Version

Here are the design concepts I used to modify the traditional course:

  • Minimize lecture; embed the learning, instead
  • Use simulations to make the learning “First Person,” instead of “Third Person”
  • Have learners teach themselves the details; make them use the details inside the simulation
  • Make testing part of the reality-based learning process
  • Strive for rules, rather than action plans, as transfer outputs


Both versions of this example course take roughly the same amount of resources to design and deliver. The amount of time devoted to learner practice, and the amount of learner engagement with the material is at least 50% higher in the simulation-enhanced version of the course. To the extent that this is a practical solution for the audience, you can expect correspondingly higher rates of achievement and learning outcomes. Overall, simulations offer higher engagement, transfer, and satisfaction than traditional courses. Putting the learner “in the driver’s seat” doesn’t have to be hard, and can be very rewarding for both the training team and the learners.

Take a look at your own workshops, and see how you might apply the concepts shown here to work simulations into your training!