Although the article, “Simulations: The Next Generation of E-Learning” by Sarah Boehle is more than a decade old, many of her observations are still relevant today.

 While there is no hard research to prove the following quotes, logic will tell us that, in spite of the shaky percentages used, for most learners her conclusions are probably accurate:

 “ .  .  . The experts generally agree that simulations boost learning retention rates dramatically.  An often-cited study conducted by the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Sciences in Alexandria, Va., found that on average, students retain 5 percent of what they hear in lectures, 10 percent of what they read, and 20 percent of what they see and hear in audiovisual presentations.  But add “practice by doing” and “teach others/immediate use” to the mix—two learning techniques that computerized simulations possess in spades—and retention rates shoot up to a jaw-dropping 75 and 80 percent, respectively.

Some also credit simulations with accelerating the learning curve.  According to James Lundy, vice president of Gartner, the Stamford, Conn. research firm, students learning via simulation-based training become proficient more quickly.  When students learn on the job, it usually takes them longer to be able to perform the same task with the same proficiency, he says.

Proponents also point out that simulations allow students to practice newly acquired skills and apply new knowledge in a realistic, yet risk-free, environment.  That means, for example, students feel they can experiment and explore the cause-and-effect relationships between operating decisions and business outcomes without facing real-world consequences—like plummeting a company into bankruptcy or worse. “

Trainers first witnessed this boom in longer term retention rates more than three decades ago with the adoption of interactive laser videodisc technologies (IVD).  For the first time, an affordable simulation model was available to everyone and longer term retention rates took off.

After those initial analog successes, digitally-based CD-ROM replaced IVD but the early digital limitations took away some of those previous simulation advantages.

Today, the training world has adopted e-Learning as the delivery method of choice — but, many of the practitioners have all but eliminated the simulation aspect of learning and reverted to reading-based programs (i.e., PowerPoint adaptations).

And yet, the only training initiatives that have positive impacts on an organization’s performance — and, future — are those programs that generate the longer-term retention that immediately translates into positive applications of that initial training.

E-Learning that incorporates multiple media and includes a word-for-word audio option feature will bring us much closer to the “simulation learning” we enjoyed in the days of IVD.

And that goal, along with learning-on-demand, is what we all should be pursuing!

More on Monday  –  –  –

   — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

   December 6, 2017  (Mondays & Wednesdays)


 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)