How Simulation Could Transform the University Experience for the Better

Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

2020 has seen a surge in use of technology, with COVID-19 forcing many to work from home and Zoom calls becoming a daily occurrence. Never has an application shaped society more than it has this year, and with a second wave predicted to hit the UK according to Johnson, technology use could become even more of a necessity. 

Filtering heavily to the home and beyond, technology use is growing more popular in the teachings of university degrees. It changed the way lectures and seminars were taught for students in university during the pandemic and will persist similarly in the coming September. But through the use of simulation, the university experience could be transformed for the better in the near future. 

Simulation-based education refers to the use of simulation software to benefit the teaching and learning process, helping to convert theoretical learning into real-life situations. 

Roger Lane, founder of Roger Lane Consultancy, has been working with universities to integrate simulated experiences into student’s learning. What began as creating a political simulation for a client has now attracted the attention of universities in the UK. Simulation offers a transformation of the “theoretical learning that you get in the lecture halls, tutorials and seminars, and brings it into practical application”, according to Lane. In turn this helps make student’s skills much more transferable and themselves more employable. 

Since 2017 the team at RLC have been working with Stirling University to deliver realistic crisis response experiences through simulation, Lane comments, “We support what is now an MSE programme in International Negotiations with Stirling University. It started off as a voluntary module, they would come in over the weekend to play the simulation. Now it is part of a formal assessment where the points count towards their degrees.”

An NLP practitioner, Lane alongside his colleagues, place a large focus on creating a safe space for clients to learn. Vital for creating the bridge between education and the working environment, simulation in universities can boost employability and provide an insight into realistic situations. 

“We know that Universities are under pressure to maintain high-quality teaching, we know that students are anxious about going to uni or not and getting their money’s worth as well as a job at the end of it”. Roger Lane remarks, “ If we can provide them something that gives transferable skills, makes them more employable, they have fun doing it and it can be assessed – why wouldn’t you want to have that experience?”

For students in sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, they are prone to dealing with complex models of real-life systems. Studies have shown that “simulation-based methodologies in coordination with other techniques” are often required to facilitate the practical understanding of complex systems, allowing students to better their learning experience. It has also highlighted their easy integration within blended and online courses has shown their “expansion and popularity” in universities worldwide.

Simulation allows students to experience realistic events and procedures in a safe environment where errors can be thoroughly assessed and feedback given for future reference. Students who have been subject to simulation courtesy of Roger Lane Consultancy have shown positive feedback, with one participant commenting “I think it really builds confidence, being someone who struggles with clinical anxiety I was petrified when making my opening statement, but about 1 hour in, I came right out of my shell and excited for the next day!”

Image: Roger Lane Consultancy

84% of participants agreed that their experience of simulation-based learning had provided a powerful learning opportunity with the remaining 16% agreeing with the statement.

Simulation could be the way forward for universities and a way of calming the worries students face about employment after graduation. As the recession hits, employability is a major concern for graduates and those considering university.

“We know that universities are under pressure to maintain high-quality teaching, We know that students are anxious about going to uni or not and getting their money’s worth as well as a job at the end of it.” Lane comments, “If we can provide them something that gives transferable skills, makes them more employable, they have fun doing it and it can be assessed. We create an environment where people are stretched but in a safe and supported way and can overcome some of those self-limiting beliefs and go from being petrified to excited”.

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Wellbeing writer, host for The Inspired Narrative podcast and mental health support worker.

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