Ashland University, a small private university located in Ashland, Ohio, strives to provide its educational leadership students with unique experiential learning experiences with an emphasis on acquiring critical skills in areas such as school climate, professional ethics, school safety, and school administration programs.
Ashland’s educational leadership program required a three-dimensional tool that would be an authentic situation from the world of administration, provide an opportunity for the student to be immersed in the case and have decision points along the way for which they would need to choose a response and generate immediate feedback and the opportunity to go back through the experience any number of times to receive feedback (or feeding forward).
A further desire was to find a tool to allow students to make their own decisions without feeling they had failed. Ashland University wanted them to understand that this preparatory practice is a way to:
SchoolSims was introduced as this much-needed, three-dimensional tool to Ashland University. SchoolSims provides a library of simulations to help school leaders and teachers, both current and aspiring, to manufacture experiences that they can tap into when on the job. Simulations are experiential learning tools that emulate real-world scenarios in a “choose your own adventure” format.
Aspiring school leaders can experience real-life scenarios that depict actual events in a simulated setting. Since there are only sometimes right or wrong answers to human behavior, experimentation is encouraged within the simulation, as there is no way to fail. Participants practice critical thinking and are encouraged to discuss the reasons behind their choices, allowing for peer-to-peer learning.
Students were assigned simulations closely related to their classes and were tasked with connecting the theories and best practices within the simulation to real life. They were also assigned mentors, which allowed them to not only learn from their mentor’s prior experiences but allow the mentor and mentee to grow together while working as a team. The students created a reflection log of their thoughts and lessons learned from the simulations below.
What were the most important leadership lessons from this simulation?
To connect the theories and best practices within the simulation to real life, “How does the information in this simulation apply to your current or future role?”
Which professional norms (integrity, fairness, transparency, trust, collaboration, perseverance, learning, and continuous improvement) were required to make good decisions in this simulation? Explain.
Identify and explain the unethical or unprofessional actions in play during this simulation.
As seen above, the students could connect the events in the simulation to those that have happened or could happen at their job. They experienced unprofessional actions throughout the simulation and had to apply professional norms such as fairness, trust, and perseverance to make difficult decisions and choose the best course.
While going through simulations such as Cultural Competency and EquityExploring Beneath the Surface:
Simulations are a tremendous experiential learning tool for Ashland University students.