Monday, November 30, 2015

Student Learning Matters

Phase I of the RES-SIM project has focused on:

“develop[ing] the conceptual model for a virtually distributed computer-based teaching and learning tool that enables students within and across disciplines (e.g. engineering, architecture, logistics), both on and off campus, to collaboratively acquire essential decision-making skills through immersion in a dynamic disaster system simulation”.

The team has been busy interviewing experts in disaster management and education (Stage 1) to identify stakeholder needs and perceptions (students, educators, graduate employers, disaster management agencies) and ultimately working towards producing the detailed design specifications for the simulator. Following the analysis of the interviews we are now turning our attention to a series of workshops to map the system (Stage 2) and will be conducting focus groups to develop the scenarios (Stage 3).

We’ve learnt a lot….

Yet it won’t be until Phase II of the project that RES-SIM will come into fruition— that is, be developed by a software consultant and ultimately used by students and staff.

What will success look like?

Most certainly a system that ensures student attainment of learning outcomes and supports a positive learning experience will be an important part of this equation. For this to happen it will be critical that Phase II of RES-SIM considers the complete learning cycle from curriculum design through to assessment and feedback. After all, while many people agree that online games and simulation can promote learning, critics argue that what is learned may be inappropriate and it is therefore important that games are underpinned by learning theory (Shaffer et al., 2005).

The RES-SIM team argue for scenario-based teaching of disaster resilience

Students need guidance when using simulation, they need to be challenged and they need time to reflect. Teachers need resources to be able to support students in these ways. In Phase II the team would therefore draw from a range of “Good Practice Guides” for curriculum development available from the OLT and other educational research and apply and extend these to the context of RES-SIM. We envisage production of sample learning activities, example assessments and guidelines to support learners and teachers so that students get the most out of RES-SIM.

Success will also involve the maximization of impact. It is one thing for the team to use RES-SIM to positively impact our own students’ learning however broader systematic adoption of the RES-SIM and the lessons learned is preferred over narrow adoption (Hilton, 2014). In part, broader adoption will be dependent on the extent to which RES-SIM and its scenarios cater to a wide range of educational contexts. The team is certainly focusing on this in producing the conceptual design during Phase I. Continual engagement with stakeholders, spreading the word about RES-SIM through journals and conferences and production of online resources is also ongoing. There is also the potential for broadening impact by including new partner institutions willing to adopt RES-SIM. If you are interested in being involved, please contact the team.


Hilton, T., (2014) The impact management planning and evaluation ladder (IMPEL), accessed 2 November 2015.

Shaffer, D. W., Squire, K. R., Halverson, R., & Gee, J. P. (2005). Video games and the future of learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(2), 104-111.

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