Introduction to Simulation Learning in Emergency and Disaster Management

Introduction to Simulation Learning in Emergency and Disaster Management

Nicole K. Drumhiller (American Public University System, USA), Terri L. Wilkin (American Public University System, USA) and Karen V. Srba (Saint Francis University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4087-9.ch001
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Simulation and game-based learning is an essential learning application especially as it pertains to a high-stakes field like emergency and disaster management. Introducing real-life learning applications into the classroom allows the learner to make critical decisions at different points throughout a simulation providing practical learning that leads to a cognitive understanding of the material. These simulated practices ensure memory and longer retention of these events or tasks, a requirement to ensure that learning transpires. Likewise, these simulations also place the learner under acute stress, something that replicates the stress felt during real-life disasters. Therefore, it is crucial to have students apply what they have learned in simulations as a demonstration of their learning. These learned skills are essential for students to be marketable and thrive in a career field where decision-making, problem-solving, and critical thinking are vital for their success.
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The use of simulations and games to foster learning is not a new phenomenon. As an applied learning tool, simulations and games offer unique methods for teaching a variety of concepts. Simulations, game-based learning, and gamification, while used interchangeably, have different meanings. Simulations are a way to present real-life events in an authentic fashion where the learner responds to the event as they would if they were in a live event (Rutherford-Hemming, 2012; Khallifa, 2011). Gamification, an activity used to achieve game-based learning, is the act of taking something already in existence and adapting it with game mechanics to increase participation, loyalty, motivation, and engagement (Zemliansky & Wilcox, 2010). An example of this within a classroom may include incorporating a points-based badging system where students can earn supplemental achievements when carrying out assigned tasks, like answering questions about varying components within the syllabus. As technology has advanced, a combination of game-based applications in conjunction with simulations makes for a productive learning environment as content becomes enhanced to make learning more fun and engaging. Simulations without some game aspects can fail to be engaging; therefore, adding gaming aspects to simulations creates an optimum learning environment. Gamification in online higher education combines technological tools with real-life scenarios to make an immersive experiential simulation that motivates the learner.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Debrief: A reflective learning activity carried out at the end of a simulation that further places the simulation into the context of the associated learning objectives.

Applied Learning: The act of directly using learned knowledge in a manner relevant to its intended use.

Playbook: An asset developed for a specific simulation which sets the stage for the simulation itself by placing it into context. It can include background information and provides the rules and proceedings for how the simulation is to be carried out.

Gamification: An activity carried out to transform something already in existence and alter it by incorporating game-based mechanics to enhance cognitive engagement.

Game-Based Learning: A learning activity designed to draw from the principles of fun and play to enhance cognitive learning.

Simulation: A tool used to present an event in a true-to-life fashion to enhance learning.

Experiential Learning: Refers to learning that is grounded in lived experiences and includes learning though activities like simulations, games, internships, and study abroad experiences.

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