Creating Engaging and Memorable Learning Experiences

Interactive simulation learning is a powerful tool for education.

GUEST COLUMN | by Chris Stegner

Interactive simulation learning is a method of teaching that combines lessons with interactive exercises. These exercises are designed to allow students to learn through physical experience, as opposed to traditional methods of memorization and reading.

Compared to traditional teaching methods, this method has been shown to be more effective for many students. In the following article, we will explore how interactive simulation learning can be used in the classroom and why it is a more educational approach than traditional teaching methods.

What is Interactive Simulation Learning

Interactive simulations are digital representations of a real-world event that allow users to experience the event as if they were there. In other words, interactive simulations are computer programs that simulate a situation and allow students to interact with it in order to study or learn.

‘It’s an innovative way for students to experience real-world situations and develop skills that can be applied in their everyday lives.’

For example, a simulation could provide visual and auditory feedback, such as video and audio footage of people speaking, or sound effects, in order to create an appropriate environment for learning. The simulation can also be designed so that the user is able to manipulate certain aspects of the simulation in order to understand how these changes will affect the outcome of the scenario.

The most common used technologies in this style of learning are augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR).

Characteristics of Interactive Simulation Learning

The main characteristics of this type of learning are the following:

Scenario-based: A simulation is a computer-generated representation of an actual scenario or location, such as a pilot’s cockpit, an operation room, or an office setting. These environments are created to mimic real-life environments in the digital realm. Simulations take place in these environments. Within the simulation, there is a scenario to react to or a problem to solve.

Impactful Choices: Simulations usually involve a number of choices. Each option has an effect on your progress in the scenario and influences what decisions you’ll have to make next. The questions are open-ended, and there are usually no right answers. Each choice you make impacts the rest of your experience in the simulation, from the next choice that you will have to make to the outcome of the entire scenario.

Role Playing: In many simulations, you will be assigned to a certain role inside the scenario. In certain cases, it might be required for you to interact with learners in other positions who are working through the same challenge from a variety of viewpoints. For instance, you may take on the role of a dental assistant, which means you will have to work with the “dentist” to complete the task at hand in the scenario.

Instructor Facilitation: Simulations are often done by a teacher who prepares the scenario and works with you or your team. When necessary, most simulations may be stopped to examine the progress of learners. Simulations are based on organized reflection to assess the choices made, connect them with the results they have produced, talk about them from a real-life perspective, and strengthen what you have learned from the experiences.

Real Life Implementation of Interactive Simulation Learning

Here are a few real-life scenarios of interactive simulation learning being put to the test:

CPaT delivers a unique software platform that tackles difficulties in aviation training. These courses are available in 2-D, 3-D, or VR. With highly specialized needs and ongoing changes to necessary trainings in the aviation field, this software lets training be modified as needed to continue to stay relevant for learners.


Oxford Medical Simulation lets learners connect with fully interactive, severely ill patients using virtual reality goggles or laptops. Learners can diagnose, initiate therapy, and engage with their interdisciplinary team. Conversation and physiology of the patents responds and adapts to user’s activities and treatments.


Certify-ED is an online school that provides users with instruction in a variety of vocational fields such as welding, nursing, culinary arts, drone piloting, and many more. These classes make learning accessible to people who may not want to attend in-person trainings.


The Dan Marino Foundation designed and developed a virtual reality simulation of a job interview, which walks users through interview practice rounds. The chance to practice interviewing skills with an avatar gives individuals with ASD and other developmental disabilities more confidence.


The Future of Making Education More Engaging

Digital simulation has been a powerful tool in the education sector for years. It is used to teach and train people how to do things better, whether it be how to drive or how to perform first aid. It’s much more effective than sitting is a classroom or reading from a textbook.

Interactive simulation is a type of learning where learners have the opportunity to take on a role and make decisions as they go through a story. It’s an innovative way for students to experience real-world situations and develop skills that can be applied in their everyday lives. Furthermore, it makes learning more engaging and interactive, leading to improved results and an overall better learning experience.

Chris Stegner is CEO and co-founder of Very Big Things, an award-winning digital products and services agency focused on digital transformation and disruption. Chris launched his first startup, 3D Studio Max World Wide, at the age of 13 and has since assisted in launching hundreds of digital products for some of the world’s most recognized companies and government institutions. He has helped countless startups succeed from many angles, including serving as a CTO, founder, consultant, and a former VC firm partner. Connect with him through LinkedIn

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