Think for a moment about someone you know that is an expert at something. They could be great at their job, defusing conflicts, or managing their health. Now think about how they do it, and how you would build a program to help others achieve better performance in that area. Pretty challenging, right? Why is it so hard?
Does realism really matter in training? The short answer is... yes.
Realism is essential when the goal is to create virtual learning environments to transfer knowledge from the classroom or an e-learning program to real-world behaviors. Two cognitive science concepts provide the underpinnings for why experiential realism improves knowledge transfer.
Why do so many e-learning programs focus on acquiring knowledge and then afterwards, expect learners to master the knowledge transfer to practical situations on their own? That’s like offering a course on flying a plane and then expecting learners to climb into a plane and take off.
What’s missing? Well, it’s an enormously important part of the learning process: skill acquisition. This is the skill to apply learned knowledge in fluid, real-world situations, and make more optimal decisions. This skill-building process – the flight simulator – is the critical part!