GuSS as Unique Training System

Modern training regimens often divorce instruction from practice, concentrating on either one or the other. GuSS brings them together. GuSS applications are based on flexible social simulations. On top of this base, GuSS adds four different types of teachers. Each teacher monitors the student's on-going activity in the simulation and offers a particular type of intervention as it is warranted:

Storyteller: Stories convey the cultural knowledge of a world of practice as it is actually seen and performed by experienced practitioners. The Storyteller uses the case-based teaching architecture to deliver real-world stories when it sees they are relevant to the student's activity, situating the knowledge the stories contain in the context of the activity. In George (a GuSS application that teaches selling to business consultants), the Storyteller contains over 100 stories, gathered from experienced sellers and representing a wide range of selling situations and strategies.

Analyzer: Like the Storyteller, the Analyzer is a case-based teaching module. But while the Storyteller tells students about the informal knowledge of practitioners in a field, the Analyzer talks about "textbook" knowledge relating to practice. Such knowledge includes, for example, rules and theories about communication styles, organizational behavior, and personalities. Even though the Analyzer contains much the same information as one might find in a textbook, it is significantly more powerful because the Analyzer can present its material "just in time," at the moment the student is likely to be interested.

Coach: The Coach indicates what sorts of goals the student should have and tracks those goals to see when they have been satisfied. For example, when a student using the George system enters a new organization, his goal should be to find out who the buyer is. A new student is explicitly told that this is a goal worth pursuing. As the student becomes more adept at the task, the Coach gives less assistance, requiring the student to do more. This method of teaching, called scaffolding and fading, is an important technique in how apprenticeships operate in the real world. (Collins, Brown and Newman, 1989).

The Coach is implemented using what one might call a "Learn By Being Told" architecture. This architecture works because the student is ready to hear what the Coach wants to tell. It is an efficient way to bring the student to the point of knowing which goals to have and when to have them. Because the George application is meant for students who have limited time to use the system, simply telling them the answer is a reasonable course.

Evaluator: The simulation itself provides feedback to the student about progress. But, sometimes the feedback offered by the simulator is not enough to help students understand the effects of their actions. For instance, in the High Spotter application, a student who fails to make a sale or angers a client, will know that all is not well. However, it may be difficult for that novice student to diagnose exactly what went wrong. Typically, the student will have made some error early in the interaction, and without help it can be difficult for him to retrace his steps to identify the error. The Evaluator provides feedback to help students understand the results caused by their actions.

Next Story Yello: Selling to Simulated Customers

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