by Rui Huang
Simulation or scenario-based learning brings real-world contexts into the classroom where students can apply what they have learned to problem solving. Beyond providing fun, simulations allow students to safely practice making high-stakes decisions in work-related situations based on the concepts and principles they have acquired in their courses.
Adjunct Professor Meghan McPherson teaches Introduction to Emergency Management online. To evaluate how well students understand the concepts of Emergency Management, Meghan usually asks students what decisions they would make under certain emergent situations. Traditionally, these questions were presented by Meghan in a text format and responses were collected later for discussion in person.
Last summer, while discussing her online course with Mitch Kase at the FCPE, the idea to design the activity as a media-rich and interactive online simulation came up. What follows is a step-by-step account of how the FCPE collaborated with Megan to create a simulation that met one of her most important teaching goals.
We first met with Meghan to discuss her learning objectives for the simulation activity. Then we began to create a storyboard with her for the project. With the first four questions provided by Meghan, I then created some screen mock-ups with a timeline, an Adelphi map, and text questions. For the prototype design, Mitch acted in the role of public safety officer.
We used Adobe Captivate as our development tool to put everything together. Captivate is an authoring tool for creating interactive video demos, tutorials and full-scale e-learning objects without the need for programming. At the FCPE, we have also used it to create Moodle video tutorials. An advantage to using Captivate is that projects created with it can be easily integrated with our learning management system, Moodle, using the SCORM standards, which means all student responses can be collected, stored and graded in Moodle.
Once the main activity concepts and prototype were evaluated by the FCPE and the instructor, the next phase of design and development involved bringing more real-world elements into the simulation. The campus map was replaced by a new 3D interactive map and professional photos, audio, and video were added to the simulation. In addition, Adelphi’s own Public Safety Officer, Captain Raymond Hughes, generously agreed to act in the simulation, adding a sense of authenticity. The activity was then tested by FCPE staff.
We are still waiting for feedback from students as they just started the activity this week. Nonetheless, the initial overall feedback from Meghan McPherson (see below) is really positive and reassuring.
We will use the instructor’s and students’ feedback to make any necessary changes to the simulation and further updates may also be needed in future semesters. Working together as a team with the instructor on this simulation activity has led us to see the rich opportunities for collaboration between instructors and the FCPE to create tailored, interactive, and innovative learning activities with technology that can help students learn better.“Thank you again for such a fantastic sim cell. I can not wait to see what we come up with next! To see an idea come to fruition like this is more than I ever could have asked for.” – Meghan McPherson, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Emergency Management