Learning by doing simulations attack the first two stages of the natural learning waterfall. They allow students to adopt goals the students care about. And, they raise questions in students' minds. As students work through a simulation and experience failures, they see where they need to improve. Learning by doing simulations help students gain knowledge in the same context that they will use that knowledge. Many teaching methods provide knowledge like the hints provided by the experts in a learning by doing simulation. But learning by doing simulations not only provide the opportunity to want knowledge, they allow for the possibility, if they have been built properly, of providing the knowledge on demand as it is needed.
Another reason learning by doing simulations are effective is that students enjoy using them. These simulations allow for a return to the strengths of the apprenticeship method. They provide a guiding context within which students can integrate what they learn. Students learn details in the context of a larger task -- they are never faced with decontextualized facts that seem to have only a puzzling relationship, if any, to the goals students have. In the end, students feel they have accomplished something, they have landed the plane, invited Marie to lunch in French, or sold an advertisement to a roofer. The sense of accomplishing something is more of a reward than any grade.
Computers Can Support Learning by Doing
Where am I in the content of the book?