When I was teaching I found the use of simulation activities among the most effective ways of engaging students in their learning. In those days I relied on activities that involved lots of paper, and instructions in envelopes etc. Nowadays you can find some really great simulation activities online – such as the simulation games created by World Vision , and available free for teachers and students.
There are five excellent activities listed on the WV simulation games page – I’ve registered and had a dabble with Eliminate – Child labour (experiencing life as a social worker with the goal to eliminate child labour in a community) , and with Frontline (Set in a conflict zone, teams face decisions that save lives and assist those impacted by conflict.)
I’m really impressed with the quality of these activities – both in terms of the way the activities themselves are devised and structured, and in terms of the interface. There’s quite a bit of reading involved – but hey, in a classroom group situation that becomes part of the activitiy, reading together to decode the instructions etc. Those looking for a Play Station or X-Box experience will be disappointed – but let them. These simulations are engaging in different ways. They’re especially useful for developing critical thinking, and exploring ideas and concepts at a deeper level than a superficial read of a magazine or text book article – especially when engaged in as a part of a classroom group activity. Like all good simulations – they’re intended to teach not through the imparting of lots of information, but through the understandings developed through the process of participation, problem solving and decision making.
Well done World Vision for making these available for use on our classrooms – from the comments boxes on the web page it would appear that there are many people making good use of them and finding value in using them.