Session 9: Gamification and Simulation


Gamification & Simulation

  1. Define the terms “Game” and “Simulation” as they relate to eLearning.

Gamification is visual storytelling, feedback, and visual cues. It is measureable and has an objective for the learner. It reinforces previous learned behavior or facts. It’s a trick the learner to play a fun game that results in retaining information. Gamification allows the learner to explore information in a way that doesn’t feel like a test.

Nate, B. (2013, Dec. 4) What is gamification? eLearning Brothers.   Retrieved from

An educational simulation is built around set learning objectives. These objectives may involve-

  • acquiring a certain attitude (like customer-centered care)
  • acquiring certain skills (like learning how to word-process)
  • acquiring certain learned behaviors (like how to communicate with a customer)
  • gaining a complex world view (like understanding how global political systems may work through a simulation), and
  • troubleshooting problems in a real-world context (like identifying when to notify authorities about suspicious looking signs or symptoms or plants that may / may not be infected with a high-risk pathogenic agent)

An educational simulation involves the conveying of an online experience in which a learner goes through a sequential or non-sequential experience that models or emulates a real-world experience. The simulation consists of “selective fidelity”; in other words, the experience does not pretend the whole complexity of a learning experience but highlights the salient parts of a simulation.

A simulation that emulates a real-world machine will have certain common scenarios coded for the learning level of the student. Real-world actions that may be too complex may not be depicted at the lower levels of the simulation learning.

Educational simulations. (n.d.). eLearning Faculty Modules. Retrieved from

  1. What are the key characteristics of a Simulation?

Effective simulations, foremost, have to be accurate to the world. They have to have clearly defined learning objectives. They have to offer salient and clear learning. They have to offer the proper level of complexity for the desired learning. They should not lead to “negative learning” or mistaken ideas or practices. (The simulation itself should involve clear definitions of what is / is not covered in the simulation and the limits of the underlying model.) Incomplete or inaccurate knowledge may actually impede the learning process. (Alexander and Judy, Winter 1988).

  • The information in simulations should be timely and current.
  • The technological interfaces should work smoothly.
  • The simulation should be fun and entertaining.
  • The simulation should be as accessible as possible to the widest possible group of potential learners.
  • The simulation should involve all members of the class and offer fresh insights to real-world challenges.

Educational simulations. (n.d.). eLearning Faculty Modules. Retrieved from

  1. What are some of the strengths or advantages of Games and Simulations in eLearning?

Cognitive advantages include: repetition—games are played over and over again for a higher score, to beat a colleague or to reach the next level. We know that distributed practice (or spaced rehearsal) is an effective learning technique and a well designed games naturally embody that concept. Another advantage is problem-solving. You can’t get to level two in a game if you can’t problem solve.

Immediate feedback is another advantage. Games provide immediate feedback unlike a test or a quiz which requires time for an instructor to grade and return. Engagement or flow works in video games and simulations and is another advantage. If the learner is absorbed in the learning, he or she will loose track of time and only focus on the game. Another advantage is motivation. Games and simulations tend to motivate learners more than text on a PowerPoint slide.

Perhaps one of the most powerful cognitive elements is transferability. In a well designed simulation, the learner is put into a realistic situation and he or she must act as they would in the actual situation. This makes the learning highly transferable as opposed to learning about something in the environment of a classroom which is not the typical environment in which the learner needs to apply the learning. So, ironically, an electronic simulation can be more realistic than a lecture because of the visual cues of simulations. They provide a context for the learning that can be highly realistic for knowledge transfer.

Malamed, C. Games and Simulations. The eLearning Coach. Retrieved from

  1. What are some of the weaknesses or disadvantages of Games and Simulations in eLearning?

Educational simulations need to offer sufficient feedback streams to learners to fully enable them to anticipate the realities of a real-world situation. Learners should also fully understand the limitations of the simulation, particularly the underlying models. Learners have to understand the amounts of serendipity (and open-endedness) that have been built into the simulation (such as those that involve human-embodied avatars in public virtual spaces).

There are ADA concerns- Various non-profit and professional organizations have been working on standards for both electronic game and simulation accessibility. The basic concepts have been that games and simulations must allow players to control the pacing; to interact with the interface using more than a mouse or a keyboard (but also accessibility devices); to access relevant information with more than one channel (not just visual or auditory or symbolic reasoning / reading), and so on.

Clearly, some of these types of mitigations may not be possible in every game or simulation situation.

Malamed, C. Games and Simulations. The eLearning Coach. Retrieved from

  1. Explain the term, “Gamification” and explain how this concept might apply to eLearning.
  • Over 75% people are gamers (50% casually and 27% moderately to fairly often).
  • Learners recall just 10% of what they read and 20% of what they hear. If there are visuals accompanying an oral presentation, the number rises to 30%, and if they observe someone carrying out an action while explaining it, 50%. But learners remember 90% “if they do the job themselves, even if only as a simulation. (
  • Almost 80% of the learners say that they would be more productive if their university/institution or work was more game-like.
  • Over 60% of learners would be motivated by leader boards and increased competition between students.
  • 89% would be more engaged win an e-learning application if it had point system.

Favorite Gamification Techniques 

  • Progressing to different levels
  • Scores
  • Avatars
  • Virtual Currencies

The Most Effective Uses of Gamification in Learning 

  • Illustrating progress
  • Increase engagement
  • Creating challenges
  • Instilling a sense of accomplishment

The Future of Gamification in eLearning Industry

  • By 2015 50% of organizations managing innovation processes will gamify aspects of their business. (7)
  • Accordingly, by 2015, 40 percent of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations. (7)
  • 53% of responders say that by 2020 gamification will be widely adopted by most of industries, communications scene and most of all education. (8)

Laskaris, J. (2014, July 30). 30 Facts about gamification in elearning. eLearning Industry. Retrieved from

  1. Pick a topic and describe a game or a simulation or gamification concept that would be effective.

My “gaming” experience is limited to childhood Atari playing Ms. Pacman, so I’m rather out of my element here. I have tried avatar tools that allow students to publish presentations using an avatar rather than recording themselves, but that’s the tip of the iceberg in the world of simulation. Some of the eText software I use has grammar games, but I personally didn’t find them to qualify as “fun”, so again, I don’t think they count. I’m not sure if/how I would use gaming or simulation in my discipline.

I did find a program that I thought would be perfect for a different online project I’m assisting with at my college thought out Kinesiology program- it’s a wellness competition for faculty and staff. The idea is to hold semester competitions between departments. The program would be based on a gamification program called “Keas”- Wellness platform for employees that helps keep the group health insurance costs lower for enterprises, reducing sick days and implement healthy habits. Personal dashboards with stats, tasks and achievements keep both employees and companies healthy.

Laskaris, J. (2014, July 30). 30 Facts about gamification in elearning. eLearning Industry. Retrieved from


One thought on “Session 9: Gamification and Simulation

  1. Good job! I like the various sources you provide to show engagement and to support your ideas. I think you might be able to create a virtual scavenger hunt for students that would engage them and have them learn some skills you are trying to teach.


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