An investigation of the use of simulations and video gaming for supporting exploratory learning and developing higher-order cognitive skills.
AbstractThis paper demonstrates how new exploratory technologies are currently being used in adult education and training to support discovery learning and the development of higher-order cognitive skills. In particular the use of interactive simulations and educational computer games are being used in a range of different learning contexts to support accelerated learning [shorter learning times], to engage new groups of learners [with low skills levels], to support learning construction and to aid in the development of skills-based learning. Alongside the consultation with expert, tutor and learner groups, the study has produced a range of case studies examining particular examples of effective use of educational games and simulations, the research also provides an indication of how these new exploratory technologies - or tools - are aiding tutors to support blended learning solutions [combining face-to-face and computer mediated approaches]. Furthermore, the research also suggests that there is a convergence occurring between educational simulations and games - or 'gamesims' as we have termed them - which has the potential to result in: innovative uses of technology in a range of educational and training contexts, migration between pedagogic theories and approaches that may lead to new e-learning based frameworks and broader implementation and use of blended learning solutions in specialised learning contexts. The main benefits of combining training simulations and visualisation techniques with the increased interactivity and motivational potential of computer games, include:  increased motivational levels for learners,  access to learner groups with low literacy and numeracy levels,  use of collaborative learning,  accelerated learning times,  increased potential for personalisation according to learning style and preferences,  co-development of skills-based learning,  potential for widening participation and  increased learner retention levels.