Why Using a Simulation Game Might Be the Best Way to “Flip” Your Classroom
When I first began my teaching career as an ESL instructor, the first and most lasting lesson I learned was knowing when and how to STOP teaching. That is to say, sometimes the most impactful thing a teacher can do is understand when to stop teaching and let students take control of their own learning. Today, this has become its own teaching approach, referred to as the “flipped” classroom, but the core principles and benefits to be derived remain the same.
Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach in which the conventional notion of classroom-based learning is inverted, so that students are introduced to the learning material before class, with classroom time then being used to deepen understanding through discussion with peers and problem-solving activities facilitated by teachers.
The Flipped Classroom approach turns traditional homework into active classroom learning, placing the emphasis on practice rather than the traditional “lecture and learn” structure. It is a learner-first, self-directed approach to learning that has proven benefits across a myriad of academic and training disciplines.
Benefits of the Flipped Classroom Approach
Not every learner will take the same amount of time to understand a new a concept. The flipped learning approach can help accomodate different learning styles and paces by assigning core learning material outside of class. This gives students the freedom to learn foundational information at their own pace and on their own terms, and can make a positive impact that is evident when class resumes and learning is put into practice.
Adapt to Student Needs
Perhaps the most important advantage of the flipped classroom approach (for instructors) is that it essentially provides an insider’s view of student learning. Compared to traditional lectures, the ability to observe students as they work through problem-solving assignments and hold peer discussions provides much deeper insight into both a student’s needs and strengths. In a flipped classroom, instructors are also able to identify and correct errors in thinking or concept application, and are more available for one-on-one interaction.
Most instructors recognize the impact of designating class time to peer-to-peer practice and discussion. The flipped classroom approach takes this one step further by making this kind of collaborative learning the standard approach throughout the course. The result? Each individual learner’s knowledge, perspective, and preferences are influenced by that of his or her peers, creating an enriched social-learning experience that cannot be matched by traditional chalk-and-talk lectures.
Business Simulation Games and Flipped Classrooms
For business educators interested in employing the flipped classroom approach, business simulation games are the perfect teaching tool. Business simulations help translate complex economic, operational, and leadership concepts into tangible, first-hard learning experiences where students are able to learn through practice. Simulations allow instructors to capitalize on the benefits of the flipped classroom approach, while also instilling complex, discipline-specific core competencies, skills, and knowledge.
How Simulations Support the Flipped Classroom Approach
Student-Led Learning and Decision-Making
Similar to a flipped classroom, simulations create a simulated environment for learners to put their theoretical knowledge to the test. They provide a safe space for students to practice and test out business strategies and decisions without the real-world impact, allowing them to engage in the kind of risk-free learning by doing that is inherent in the flipped classroom approach.
Game-Play and Collaboration
The best simulations are truly dynamic – requiring learners to compete against one another (not just a computer) and respond to the decisions and actions of others. This interactive game-play fosters a different, deeper kind of learning. Like flipped learning, simulations encourage students to learn from one another, under the guidance of their teachers, with the goal of taking away richer insights, lessons, and knowledge.
Feedback and Learning Engagement
The best simulations are what we call “sequence-based,” meaning players progress through rounds or decision cycles that act as building blocks – where today’s decision might impact decisions tomorrow, or be affected by a decision made previously in the game. This kind of sequencing acts as an informational feedback loop, helping learners refine their game strategy over time, and creating the kind of high-level learner engagement that is critical for both simulation-based learning and the flipped classroom approach.
When done right, simulations provide the perfect “flipped” environment by putting learners at the helm and making them responsible for simulated real-time decision-making. In doing so, simulations help instructors instill many of the benefits of flipped learning and provide learners with hands-on experience that can’t be matched by traditional teaching approaches. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of flipped learning and simulation-based learning, please contact us.