Computer simulations are becoming increasingly popular in training departments in just about every industry. Businesses always want to stretch a dollar, and as more organizations are seeing the value of training and skill development, computer simulations have become a vital part of many training programs.
Simulations can be used for a variety of purposes, from analyzing the behavior of systems and demonstrating how equipment works, to teaching a speciﬁc set of skills. This article examines some of the advantages of skills training with computer simulations, and offers guidelines for choosing simulation based software for your training program.
Computer Simulation Advantages
Training with computer simulations offers many beneﬁts that can improve the efﬁciency of your people and your plant. Compared to traditional training methods, such as textbooks or videos, computer simulations can provide learners with practical, hands-on experience that greatly increases their understanding.
Training on real equipment provides hands-on learning, but it’s not always a practical approach. For example, training an entire maintenance staff to troubleshoot malfunctions on real equipment requires costly downtime—not an efﬁcient use of time or resources.
By using simulation-based training software, learners can develop skills on realistic replications of equipment and transfer those skills to real equipment, without slowing down production.
Safety in the workplace is also an essential consideration of any training. Computer simulations provide a safe way to teach important safety practices and procedures. Simulation allows learners to make mistakes—and to learn from those mistakes—without risking injury to themselves or others.
Choosing Training Software
Choosing the right simulation-based training system is critical because the wrong software can completely undermine training. When selecting simulation-based training software, consider these important factors:
- Realism. For simulation-based software to be an effective training tool, it needs to be realistic. Trainees must be able to interact with the simulation the same way they would with real equipment. A good simulation accurately reﬂects possible scenarios in a lifelike environment, and provides the user with the same tools they would use on the job. The more realistic a simulation is, the easier it will be for your staff to transfer their learned skills directly to the workplace.
- Feedback. An often-overlooked aspect of simulation training is the positive impact that interactivity and real-time feedback can have on the learning process. Directly engaging the user with interactive learning is what makes simulation training so valuable and sets it apart from other types of training. High-quality software provides continuous feedback, responding accurately to the user’s interaction with the simulation. Feedback features you should look for include safety warnings, hints for improving processes, tips for developing better techniques and instructive responses when answering questions.
- Evaluation. Evaluation of progress is an integral part of any learning process, and training with simulations is no different. In addition to scoring, tracking and reporting user progress, the software should include an evaluation system at the end of an activity or exercise, allowing users to focus on areas that need the most work. This not only lets your staff see their development and improvement, it also saves the instructor’s time.
The goal of any training program is to improve the skills your staff must use on the job. Simulation-based training software can help you achieve these goals by providing employee skill development in a safe, efficient, and cost-effective way.