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Clark Aldrich On Short Sims As The Next Stage Of Serious Games

Clark Aldrich, one of the top educational simulation designers in the world and the founder and managing partner of Clark Aldrich Designs, has been developing what he believes is the next stage of the Serious Games/Educational Simulation concept over the past five years.

Clark has and will continue to speak about it this year and discuss the game changing nature of short simulations as an educational tool, including in New York City at Revolutionary Learning 2016 to be held August 17-19, at the Roosevelt Hotel. Clark Aldrich’s Session: Teaching and Learning with the Short Sim.

Introducing Short Sims

Early July, Clark Aldrich launched a new website where he introduces Short Sims under the motto “Simple Educational Simulations Work Better”.

And here I quote his stand on the concept:

“Educational Simulations and Serious Games have evolved quickly over the last couple of decades, from visionary experiments to predictable tools used to support the leading strategies of organizations as diverse as the US Army and global corporations. The research tells us that sims work, and they can teach some things better than any other approach.”

“But sims as currently conceptualized are a bit too expensive, time consuming to build, platforms dependent, and hard to update to grow beyond a niche. This has prevented interactive content from becoming integral to all educational media including personalized learning and more comprehensive assessment.”

“Until now. The new Short Sim methodology is the next step in the evolution of Simulations and Serious Games.”  
“Short Sims are interactive experiences that take a user between five and 15 minutes to finish. Short Sims can introduce a topic, allow a user to play with the concepts, and they can provide basic role-plays and lab experiments.”

“Short Sims may stand alone or be embedded in the longer document, such as in an HTML-based document, alongside text, charts, and short videos. They can achieve goals from deeper understanding and conviction building, to understanding the application of processes, to user enjoyment and engagement.”

According to Clark, Short Sims are faster to create and update, platform independent, richer content and more engaging than traditional media, 508 compatible, and more flexible than Serious Games and Simulations.

Clark also believes that Short Sims make it possible to retain the strengths of multiple choice tests, while testing entirely new areas of student knowledge, in a way that is often more engaging and satisfying. 

·         Short Sims can put students in social situations with many possible options.  For example, a student can be put in the place of a doctor interviewing a patient, or a police officer interviewing a witness.
·         Short Sims can present complex processes for students to perform, remembering past decisions. This could be rebuilding an engine or completing some multiple step math problems.  Short Sims could even give diagnostic feedback or partial credit.
·         Short Sims can make it easier for assessment to use interactive diagrams or other visuals.  Students can identify the right piece of equipment to do a certain task, or the right place on a map.  These can be multiple step (first choose the right state, then the right region in the state).
·         Short Sims can also be adaptive, tailoring subsequent situations based on past results.

Clark Aldrich has just completed a year-long development effort building Short Sims for The Gates Foundation’s open education Economy 101 textbooks series.