Teaching simulation design – part 73(ish)

Previously on this blog, I have discussed the issues involved in teaching simulations to other teachers. The uniqueness of each and every simulation couples with the uniqueness of each teacher’s needs to produce a situation where conventional teaching would seem to be rather inadequate.

When I’m written about strategies for addressing this, I suggested that one key approach would be to get teachers to experience a simulation about using simulations, working from the basis that learning is better than teaching, and that it is only through being a participant that one can properly appreciate what is happening.

Now, like a good social scientist and academic, I am about to embark on putting this into effect.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am part of the EU-funded TEMPUS project, INOTLES, which brings together colleagues across Europe to share innovative pedagogies. My role is to help others learn about using simulations.

We’re just entering the second phase of the project, namely training trainers.

Over the rest of 2014, I will be leading a group of colleagues in understanding how and why simulations can bring value to the classroom. This process has several stages, most of it online.

Firstly, we have a face-to-face session in Brussels next week, where I’ll be setting out my stall, so people know what’s on offer.

Secondly, from July, the group will spend time doing some reading – very probably including work from members of this blog – to get a more rounded baseline of knowledge.

Thirdly, in August, I’m going to ask the group to complete my simulation-simulation – which gets people to try out a more structured design process. This is done now, to try and encourage everyone to find their own comfort zone, rather than me imposing from above. I’ll be reading and evaluating the simulations that come out of this process, to support a group discussion in September.

Only then do we play a group simulation, running through to October. Design is a quite different skill from participation and it’s important to see things from both sides, not least because it brings out new perspectives.

After that, we go back to the simulation-simulation, to apply some of that new understanding.

In all this, I’ve tried to stay true to the ideas of experiential learning, placing the focus as much as possible on the ‘students’ rather than me. As a result, I have no good sense of what we’ll end up doing specifically, nor of how successful we’ll be.

However, I’m really looking forward to it all, precisely because it’s new and unknown. As we work through the steps, I’ll be writing up my thoughts, so if other readers want to chip in, then please do.

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