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Simulations and Gaming for Experiential Learning


For an introduction to using simulations in higher education, visit the “teachopolis” page:

Also of interest is Hertel and Millis, Using Simulations to Promote Learning in Higher Education (2002).

Educause is helpful in regards to information about simulations. For the uses, trends and implications of simulations in higher education, see their 2010 white paper. They identify two major trends in the growing use of simulations. First, the growth in access to more affordable simulation programs. Second, due to the growing focus on student learning outcomes, simulations provide a way for students to practice application of knowledge.

Simulations can be found in a variety of subjects, such as the math, physics and engineering “java applets” at and the stock market game as well as Marketplace Live (by UT professor Ernie Cadotte).

For those of you who want to play at the level of higher education institutional practices and policies, “Virtual U players select an institution type and strive for continuous improvement by setting, monitoring, and modifying a variety of institutional parameters and policies. Players are challenged to manage and improve their institution of higher education through techniques such as resource allocation, minority enrollment policies, and policies for promoting faculty, among others. Players watch the results of their decisions unfold in real- time. A letter of review from Virtual U’s board is sent every “year,” informing players of their progress.”

This article addresses both simulations and gaming: “Use and barriers of simulations and games in higher education”



The Chronicle of Higher Education on “Five Teaching Tips for Professors from Video Games.” It includes a video from the creating of Sim City.

goalGame informed learning: Applying Computer Game Processes to Higher Education. This article describes gaming processes as equivalent to a student learning process, particularly a process familiar to advocates of constructivism (the learning creates the knowledge) and problem-based learning:

  • When entering a gaming {class} environment, a player {student} adopts a character role or assumes an identity appropriate to the {class} environment.
  • Once within the gaming {class} environment, the player {student} perceives tasks to be completed and, consequently, progress to be made.
  • In order to progress through the game’s {class’s} more complex levels, the player {student} picks up the necessary game vocabulary.
  • The player {student} explores intriguing hidden corners and alluring vistas.
  • The player  {student} adapts to the gaming {class} environment by interacting with it.
  • The player {student} realigns expectations and judgments through each exploration and interaction, reappraising the cause and consequence of each experience accordingly.

Visual of connected peopleBryan Alexander, “Games for Higher Education” in Educause Review, addresses games as learning objects. In it, he addresses the “movement… to examine how digital games work as pedagogical devices. Starting with the publication in 2003 of James Paul Gee’s landmark What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy, faculty, technologists, and librarians have been exploring how we can learn from and also teach within computer games.”

Links recommended by Dr. Horvath

Tom Chatfield, 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain:

Seth Priebatsch, The Game Layer on Top of the World:

Jane McGonigal, Gaming can Make a Better World:

Jesse Schell, When Games Invade Real Life:

And finally, the following links to virtual worlds and adult education games (the links for adults are on the last third of the page):

More information about UT’s new Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Experience Learning, is available at


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