Introductory Videos

Introduction to Research (watch on YouTube)

David Joyner introduces Simulation-Based Learning as part of Technologies.

Joyner, D. & Udacity. (2016, June 6). Technologies: Simulation-Based Learning Introductory Video. Retrieved from

Introductory Resources

Games and Simulations and their Relationships to Learning

Gredler provides a conceptual framework for analysis of both games and simulations when applied to learning. She provides additional research games and simulations, then concludes with a brief discussion of research and design issues regarding games and simulations in education. This is a chapter 21 from the Handbook of Research on Educational Communicaions and Technology (2004).

Gredler, M. E. (2004). Games and simulations and their relationships to learning. Handbook of research on educational communications and technology, 2, 571-581.

Simulations, Games, and Learning

Oblinger argues the importance of recognizing games as teaching tools, even though conceptually we think of games as the opposite of work and intentional learning.

Oblinger, D. (2006). Simulations, games, and learning. Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) White Paper.

Simulation Technologies in Higher Education: Uses, Trends and Implications

This report from the Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) is a high-level overview of simulation-based learning, covering topics such as uses, trend, and implications; using simulation for assessment and learning, and what it means for higher education. It also includes a few questions an academic can ask about their institution's readiness to adopt simulation as part of the curriculum.

Damassa, D. A., & Sitko, T. D. (2010). Simulation technologies in higher education: Uses, trends, and implications. ECAR Research Bulletin, 3, 2010.

Teaching Tools Using Online Simulations and Games

The author discusses simulations and games as teaching tools. As examples, she uses Jane McGonigal's creation for the World Bank Institute called Evoke, a game created by the principal of the American International School of Budapest called SimCEO, a teacher who uses World of Warcraft, and another teacher who has a weekly podcast about the topic of games to teach other teachers how to use them. Links to all are in the article.

Boss, S. (2010) Teaching Tools: Using Online Simulations and Games. Edutopia. Retrieved from:

About Simulation

This document is a primer for simulation-based learning with focus on healthcare. It provides definitions for simulation education, simulation-based assessment, simulation-based research, and systems integration. It also provides advantages to using simulation in the healthcare education environment.

About Simulation. (2017) Society for Simulation in Healthcare. Retrieved April 19, 2017 from:

Instructional Simulation

Wikipedia is an open encyclopedia. This link is for the entry for Instructional Simulation.

Various. (2017). Instructional Simulation. wikipedia. Retrieved April 19, 2017 from:

Learning Theories: Simulation-based Learning

This site provides a brief explanation of simulation based learning, it's position in the constructivist learning camp. It also lists the challenges of simulations for subject novices and ways to overcome the challenges and increase learning.

Learning Theories: Simulation-based Learning. Retrieved April 19, 2017 from:

Simulation and Gaming Software Development Tools and Languages

This page is an aggregation of simulation and gaming software development tools and languages. Each item has a link and a brief description. The page is supported by The European Multidisciplinary Society for Modelling and Simulation Technology special interest group. The site also has many other areas such as publications, conferences, and courses.

Simulation and Gaming Software Development Tools and Languages. (2017) eurosis. Retrieved April 19, 2017 from:

Scholarly Readings

Support for Simulation-Based Learning: The Effects of Model Progression and Assignments on Learning about Oscillatory Motion

An oscillation simulator was used to better understand the process of discovery learning, an educational process simulation-based learning seems well-suited to support. The results of the experiment were generally positive, with significant improvement in intuitive knowledge and a small gain in definitional knowledge.

Swaak, J., Joolingen, W., & Jong, T. (1995). Support for simulation-based learning; the effects of model progression and assignments on learning about oscillatory motion. University of Twente, Faculty of Educational Science and Technology.

Thinking in Levels: A Dynamic Systems Approach to Making Sense of the World

Wilensky uses levels in a manner similar to scaffolding, meaning one piece of knowledge builds upon another to add to learning. This concept can be seen in differently using graphs of knowledge bases. Wilensky proposes the StarLogo modelling language to help students understand and work with levels. Some information about StarLogo can be found here:

Wilensky, U., & Resnick, M. (1999). Thinking in levels: A dynamic systems approach to making sense of the world. Journal of Science Education and technology, 8(1), 3-19.

Distinguishing Between Games and Simulation: A Systematic Review

The research subject for this paper is the attributes of games and simulations and what makes them different from each other.

Sauvé, L., Renaud, L., Kaufman, D., & Marquis, J. S. (2007). Distinguishing between games and simulations: A systematic review. Educational Technology & Society, 10(3), 247-256.

Scientific Discovery Learning with Computer Simulations of Conceptual Domains

Using the scientific discovery process as the basis for research, the authors examine the effectiveness of discovery learning through the use of simulations and offer solutions to the problems they found.

Ton De Jong, Wouter Van Joolingen. Scientific discovery learning with computer simulations of conceptual domains. Review of Educational Research, SAGE Publications, 1998, 68, pp.179- 202.

Current Issues and Future Directions in Simulation-Based Training

This paper, as the title suggests, examines the pros and cons of simulation-based training, a research review of simulation-based training effectiveness, identifies research needs, and closes with a funding plan to meet the needs.

Bell, B. S., Kanar, A. M. & Kozlowski, S. W. J. (2008). Current issues and future directions in simulation-based training (CAHRS Working Paper #08-13). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and LaborRelations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.

The Use of 'Exploratory Learning' for Supporting Immersive Learning in Virtual Environments

In this paper, de Frietas and Neumann examine the impact of 'exploratory learning' environments and software on the teaching practitioner and how lessons are planned.

de Freitas, S. and Neumann, T. (2009) The use of 'exploratory learning' for supporting immersive learning in virtual environments. Computers and Education, volume 52 (2): 343-352.

Simulation-based Medical Teaching and Learning

Medical simulation increases the skill of the practicioner because they are directly learning clinical procedures instead of learning by apprenticeship. The article highlights the importance of using simulation at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Al-Elq, A. H. (2010). Simulation-based medical teaching and learning. Journal of Family and Community Medicine, 17(1), 35.

Simulation-based Learning: Just Like the Real Thing

Medical simulation allows immersion in real-world situations in an interactive fashion. Lateef makes a case for simulation as a technique, not a technology, thereby broadening the possible applications.

Lateef, F. (2010). Simulation-based learning: Just like the real thing. Journal of emergencies, trauma, and shock, 3(4), 348.

MILA-S: Generation of Agent Based Simulations from Conceptual Models of Complex Systems

The authors present a system called MILA-S used to create NetLogo agent-based simulations of model ecosystems. 50 middle school students learning about ecosystems were the test subjects for the paper.

Joyner, D. A., Goel, A. K., & Papin, N. M. (2014, February). MILA--S: generation of agent-based simulations from conceptual models of complex systems. In Proceedings of the 19th international conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (pp. 289-298). ACM.

The Use of Immersive Virtual Reality in the Learning Sciences: Digital Transformations of Teachers, Students, and Social Context

This article illustrates the utility of using virtual environments to transform social interaction via behavior and context, with the goal of improving learning in digital environments. We first describe the technology and theories behind virtual environments and then report data from 4 empirical studies. In Experiment 1, we demonstrated that teachers with augmented social perception (i.e., receiving visual warnings alerting them to students not receiving enough teacher eye gaze) were able to spread their attention more equally among students than teachers without augmented perception. In Experiments 2 and 3, we demonstrated that by breaking the rules of spatial proximity that exist in physical space, students can learn more by being in the center of the teacher’s field of view (compared to the periphery) and by being closer to the teacher (compared to farther away). In Experiment 4, we demonstrated that inserting virtual co-learners who were either model students or distracting students changed the learning abilities of experiment participants who conformed to the virtual co-learners. Results suggest that virtual environments will have a unique ability to alter the social dynamics of learning environments via transformed social interaction.

Bailenson, J. N., Yee, N., Blascovich, J., Beall, A. C., Lundblad, N., & Jin, M. (2008). The Use of Immersive Virtual Reality in the Learning Sciences: Digital Transformations of Teachers, Students, and Social Context. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 17(1), 102–141. Retrieved from doi: 10.1080/10508400701793141

Virtual Reality Training Improves Operating Room Performance

Study that shows that surgeons who practiced for a particular procedure using a virtual reality simulation improved their operating room performance.

Seymour, N. E., Gallagher, A. G., Roman, S. A., O’Brien, M. K., Bansal, V. K., Andersen, D. K., & Satava, R. M. (2002). Virtual Reality Training Improves Operating Room Performance. Retrieved from


Guatam Biswas

Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor, Computer Science and Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department Senior Research Scientist, Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS) Fellow, IEEE, PHM (Prognostics and Health Management) Society

Guatam Biswas. Vanderbilt University. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Center for Connected Learning & Computer-Based Modeling (CCL)

The CCL is the home of NetLogo, a long-time project of Uri Wilensky, the center director. The CCL develops tools and technologies suitable for deployment into classrooms. It also creates tools for simulation-based learning and computer-based modelling.

Center for Connected Learning & Computer-Based Modeling (CCL). Northwestern University. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Center for Immersive and Simulation-Based Learning

"Stanford University School of Medicine and its affiliated hospitals are home to world pioneers of techniques, technologies and applications for Immersive and Simulation-based Learning (ISL)." CISL simulation-based learning is accomplished using devices that put medical students into real-life situations. Instead of being a pure software simulation, these also include mechanical and electrical interfaces.

Center for Immersive and Simulation-Based Learning. Stanford University School of Medicine. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Eric Klopfer

Creative Director of the Education Arcade and a research director in the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program. "He is a designer of award-winning educational games, working in both academic and commercial environments, and his work has focused on what is authentically playful in challenging academic subjects. He has designed games for computers, handheld devices, and multi-player on-line environments."

Eric Klopfer. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Mitchell Resnick

"Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, develops new technologies and activities to engage people (particularly children) in creative learning experiences."

Mitchell Resnick. Media Lab. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Quinn Sutton

This is the blog page for Quinn Sutton, a VP of Marketing at Certiport. He advocates for the use of simulations in learning, but his blog also covers other different topics.

Sutton, Q. Simulation-based Learning and Assessment. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Scot Osterweil

Scot Osterweil. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

The Teachable Agents Group

The Teachable Agent's Group at Vanderbilt University has developed software such as Betty's Brain, CTSim, C3STEM, and Educational Data Mining tools.

The Teachable Agents Group. Vanderbilt University. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Ton de Jong

University of Twente inquiry learning, ict and education, online labs Verified email at - Homepage (

Google Scholar. (n.d.) Ton de Jong. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Uri Wilensky

Northwestern University Professor, Learning Sciences Professor , Computer Science Director , Center for Connected Learning & Computer-Based Modeling (CCL)

Uri Wilensky. Northwestern University. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Wouter van Joolingen

Professor of Science and Mathematics Education Science Education Verified email at - Homepage (

Google Scholar. (n.d.) Wouter van Joolingen. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Ongoing Projects

Betty's Brain

This is the landing page for Betty's Brain, a project of Vanderbilt University's Teachable Agents Group. This is an intelligent tutoring program where students learn by teaching the agent.

The Teachable Agents Group. Betty's Brain. Vanderbilt University. Retrieved April 17, 2017:


This is the landing page for NetLogo, "a multi-agent programmable modelling environment." The project was developed at Northwestern's Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling (CCL).

NetLogo. Northwestern University's Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling (CCL). Retrieved April 17, 2017.

In the Media

Simulation Based Learning

This article discusses the Stanford Centers for Immersive and Simulation Based Learning. The labs are used to develop simulation processes, technoligies, and techniques usable in medical education settings.

Jung, S. (2011). Simulation Based Learning. MedGadget. September 18, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

This article discusses the simulation based learning in the context of emergency medical services training.

Smith, A. (2011). Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment. MedGadget. August 29, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Teaching Geopolitics: Fantasy Football as a Learning Game

This article is an excerpt from the book The Game Believes in You (, by Greg Toppo. It provides background for how a high school teacher used fantasy football to teach world affairs, geopolitics to his uninterested nineth grade students.

Mindshift. (2015). Teaching Geopolitics: Fantasy Football as a Learning Game KQED. May 4, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Simulation Based Learning: A New Pedagogical Approach

Simulations, this article proposes, is a way of challenging students and making them analyze information, create solutions for complex problems, experiment with various ideas, and potentially apply those new ideas to real-life situations.

TradeArabia. (2015). Simulation Based Learning: A New Pedagogical Approach. May 25, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:

Can an Immersive Video Game Teach the Nuances of American History?

This article reports on the use of an immersive video game to teach history at Brooklyn International High School ( The video game is Mission US ( and it covers parts of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. One of the challenges in video game is avoiding bias and the pre-Civil War unit was questioned about whether it portrayed slavry accurately.

Schwartz, K. Can an Immersive Video Game Teach the Nuances of American History? KQED. August 7, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2017 from:


Exploratory Learning Environments: David Joyner Interview (watch on YouTube)

Jason Barros interviews David Joyner, Course Developer at Udacity, about the role of Exploratory Learning Environments in Educational Technology.

Barros, J. & Udacity. (2016, June 6). Exploratory Learning Environments: David Joyner Interview. Retrieved from