ESSA special track: guest talk by David Crookall

We are pleased to announce that David Crookall, editor of the Simulation & Gaming journal and professor at the University of Nice, will give a guest talk at the special track of the Social Simulation and Serious Games (SSSG) track of the 2015 ESSA conference.

The special track will take place on Wednesday 16 Septembre from 10:45 – 12:15.

In his talk, entitled ‘It is not so much the simulation, it is what you do with it: Processing to learn’, David will explain how simulation games can be used to teach and inform people using his motto of ‘learning starts when the game stops’. The full abstract follows below.

My main objective in this talk will be to show that it is the processing of the experience that leads to learning (insight, understanding, change, development, …), rather than the simulation, model, role-play or serious game. In other words, it is the way in which we examine the experience that is the crucial generator of learning, not the simulation or model per se. Several terms are used to refer to this processing of experience, such as debriefing, after-act-review and critical assessment.

Three confusions arise : one related to the ignored necessity of conducting debriefing, the second related to an erroneous idea that debriefing is reserved for pedagogical games and roleplays only, and the third arising from the (mostly unspoken and unwritten) assumption that learning happens only after having built our module, simulation, etc., whereas much learning happens during construction. Students may learn more by building a simulation than by participating in it (but this is not usually acknowledged).

My slogan is “the learning starts when the game stops” – or before it starts. I think that this is true of all types of computerized or participatory methods, including computerized models, ABM, simulation, role-play, games, etc. Thus, we need to engage in a paradigm shift, one in which the simulation or model or role-play is a spring board for experience to be processed, and from which learning can take place. However, we need to use the same level of rigour in our design of processing protocols as we put into our design of the models and simulations. The result would be greater cost-effectiveness in our endeavours. Games can be snazzy, even sexy, but debriefing is truly engaging.

This fairly simple insight into simulation and related methods is often overlooked – overlooking an insight may slow enlightenment.