January 1st, 2016

This article was migrated from a previous version of the Knowledge Base. The date stamp does not reflect the original publication date.


Simulation offers the learning fields the ability to use rich models and visualizations to create interactive learning experiences. The ability of those experiences to explore the elements of time, space and scale, give the learner the ability to understand phenomena such as long-term climate change, the nuances of how agriculture yields differ between locations, and the effects of a single human’s recycling efforts. How learners use simulations to explore, what they take away from the experience, even patterns of learner activity that drive design decisions, are all results of understanding the value of simulation.

Findings from Research and Evaluation 

There is rich research that has been emerging over the past decade on the value of simulation to adult learning, and it is widely recognized that each adult brain functions differently; it is imperative for learning and training activities to be multi-modal, across time and space, and capturing rich data for analysis. The value of simulation allowing individual reflection on decisions made, action take, and the results of those actions, cannot be overstated in its importance to learning.

Directions for Future Research 

Many times when the learning field turns toward youth learning, we don’t necessarily recognize that same understanding of the brain. That is most apparent in the current US formal K-12 educational approach to learning, even with project-based learning being recognized as an important element in the formal classroom.


E. Smith, M. Carney and K Cavendish, “Applying Simulations to Social Learning Experiences”, ASTC Dimensions, May/June, 2013, 48-50.