Online Simulations

Online simulations allow teachers to fuse learning and play in a format that most students are familiar with, due to the prevalence of video and computer gaming. Simulations can be done both in individual and full class formats and are helpful for students to feel like they are an agent in the learning process. Studies show that students will remember considerably more if they are both physically and mentally involved in the learning process. Engaging in online simulations allows students to become a part of what they are learning and so increase retrieval of information later. Of course, some students may look at the entire situation as a game to avoid "real" learning, but for the most part, students will be able to learn well from simulations.

It can be difficult to find a quality simulation for your particular lesson. It may be more beneficial to search and see what is available and decide then whether or not what is available fits into your learning objectives. Simulations can be used for whole-period activities, or as part of the class period to enrich the day's lesson. They can also be an extra resource for teachers to give to students as a reward for doing well on an assignment or to link to from a teacher's home page.

Good, complete online simulations can be difficult to find. Here are a few examples to look through:

Lord of the Flies
Persuasion Map

Foreign Language
The Sims Teach German (video)

Explore Learning (check out the featured Gizmos and corresponding activity guides)
Virtual Manipulatives
Lemonade Stand
Get Real (personal economics)

Becoming Human - evolution interactive documentary
Secrets @ Sea - ocean habitat and biology
Virtual Frog Builder
Conductive Polymers

Social Studies
Build Your Own (Colonial) Plantation