Reading Time: 4 minutes

Simulation, in industry, science, and education, is a research or teaching technique that reproduces actual events and processes under test conditions. Developing a simulation is often a highly complex mathematical process. Initially, a set of rules, relationships, and operating procedures are specified, along with other variables. The interaction of these phenomena creates new situations, even new rules, which further evolve as the simulation proceeds. Simulation implements range from paper-and-pencil and board-game reproductions of situations to complex computer-aided interactive systems.

A simulation is an animated model that mimics the operation of an existing or proposed system, like the day-to-day operation of a bank, running an assembly line, or assigning staff in a hospital or call centre. Simulation offers a powerful, evidence-based approach to decision making- by using a virtual representation to test the impact of process changes and ‘what if’ scenarios, to find an approach that delivers the best results. The simulation does exactly what it says, as it mimics what happens in real processes. By mimicking the behaviour of each part of the process, it interacts with other parts, explains the performance of the whole system and provides alternative ways for resource capacity and innovative ways to improve the performance. When testing changes in real life, it’s difficult to repeat the exact circumstances to collect the results of an experiment. This means that it isn’t easy to test different ideas under the same circumstances, and as a result, accurate information is difficult to obtain, to base important decisions on. With simulation software, the same system can be tested again and again with different inputs, ensuring that any changes to processes have been thoroughly tested.

As a technique for instruction, simulation allows students to deal realistically, with matters of vital concern but without dire consequences, even if they make wrong choices. Simulations enable students to understand complex interactions of physical or social environment factors. The student engages in inactivity to achieve the goal of the simulation and has to deal with the realistic factors until the goal is mastered. The learning tasks are made much more complex than they are, in the real world. With this model, students have the opportunity to master various skills. In the conventional method of teaching, the teacher merely conveys the information included in the textbook, but students are not free to explore the content on their own. Simulations transform the content of teaching from mere information to experience. Students taste or experience what they learn and that too in a non-threatening atmosphere. Simulation is one of the two methods for L2 learning. It encourages creativity and motivates students to love and embrace what they learn. In this technique, learning tasks are made much less complex than they are in the real world.

Simulations are a unique educational technique and are particularly suited to language learning. They are in themselves a test as well as a learning experience as they estimate the interactive language competence of the students in the process. The simulation model has four phases- orientation, participant training, simulation, and debriefing. In the orientation phase, the teacher presents the topic to be explored and the explanation of the simulation. In the second phase, learners start practising and hence a high interaction is possible among them. The goal of the simulation activity, rules and roles can be properly conveyed to them. Next is the simulation operation stage, where the students may receive feedback and assess their performance. Finally, phase four consists of participant debriefing. Debriefing is the most important part of the model. It is in this phase that the psychological barriers that inhibit the learners to use the target language are removed. This is possible only when they are exposed to such an atmosphere where they are motivated to use the language, participate in simulation games and receive feedback. Learners also generate new trends to convey their thoughts(creativity), which is an indirect way of mastering a language. Teachers, on the other hand, understand the dynamics of classroom communication and create a congenial atmosphere to develop communicative skills among students. The majority of the learners feel quite uncomfortable interacting with others in the real world using the target language. But when they are involved in games or simulations with their peers, they can overcome this disadvantage. They feel that they are competent enough to use the language, effectively, when teachers allow them to explore their potentialities which later enables them to interact with others in the real world.

Thus, simulation provides impartial insight to facilitate process improvement. The only simulation is capable of incorporating the randomness that occurs in real-world systems, to see the consequences of events being delayed, by resources not being available when they are needed. Simulation helps to think about every aspect of a process. By mapping each part of the process to build a simulation, can bring any inconsistencies and inefficiencies to the surface, particularly between different parts of a process that work independently. As there is no limit to the degree, innovative ways and ideas can be brought in to improve the processes, to test and measure as a result. Sometimes the simulation doesn’t even have to be finished, the thinking itself encourages and can help to reveal the solution! As the simulation is visual and animated, it enables to demonstrate the benefits of process improvement proposals to others.