LS & T Component Roadmap 4 

Building Simulations

computerThis document is a research roadmap for developing technologies that can facilitate the use of computer-based simulation in learning.

Research has demonstrated that simulation environments are powerful learning tools that encourage exploration by allowing learners to manipulate parameters and visualize results. Simulations used in academic settings, can enhance lectures, supplement labs, and engage students. In the workplace, simulations are a cost-effective way to train personnel.

Synthetic or virtual environments are capable of supporting games, exploration, and assignments with clear goals or challenges. If they’re well designed, learners will be highly motivated to meet the goal, and eager for help to build the needed skills.

This Roadmap reviews supportive evidence on why simulations are important  and pprovides practical application in domains such as aviation training, including theories of constructivism in educational psychology, context-dependent learning in cognitive science and transfer-of-training studies in flight, military and medical simulation.

It then cites a few current domains where simulations have already been successfully applied, including medicine, the military, industry, and a variety of educational contexts.

The roadmap identifies four key areas for further research based on the limitations of those current applications:

  • interoperability for integrating simulation (including issues of ontology, geometry, and message passing);
  • the reuse, updating, and maintenance (including issues of open architectures and certification and management techniques);
  • adapting simulation to learning environments (including issues of user modeling and assessment, fidelity, distance learning, and collaboration); and
  • developing navigation techniques in virtual environments (including issues of presence, viewing, manipulation, movement, and haptics).

The roadmap focuses on post-secondary (two-year and four-year colleges and universities and industry training functions) and lifelong science, math, engineering and technology education, directly addressing workforce development needs. The insights gained will, however, be useful in all learning—for children, adolescents, and adults.

This roadmap helps to ensure that technology based solutions for learning are developed systematically with scientifically validated principles.