How Simulations Are Reshaping Online Ed Leadership Programs in Higher Education

March 28, 2022

By Nick Kovalcik

Some universities relocated their students to robust online learning programs when COVID-19 forced campuses to close two years ago. Many other colleges and universities, on the other hand, were scrambling to create online education courses from the ground up. Students and instructors frequently found themselves logging onto Zoom or other platforms for the first time, unsure of how to navigate a new virtual learning world.

Many educators are now rethinking how virtual learning might improve the student experience by providing more flexibility than in-class options, especially for hybrid and all-virtual learning models. Colleges and universities now have the potential to progress beyond these improvised models. They can try to create more stable online learning platforms that cater to a diverse group of students who require coursework at various times and in multiple formats to fit their own goals and lifestyles.

Educational Leadership Programs are now turning to simulations for their online courses. Simulations are experiential learning tools that emulate real-world scenarios in a “choose your own adventure” format. Programs across the country have found that simulations are easy to distribute online to their students. Simulations allow for asynchronous learning for online course assignments on students’ own time. Many of the programs have their teacher candidates go through these modules and, in the end, discuss the decisions they made during the simulation.

Including simulations in an educational leadership program will allow aspiring leaders to practice dealing with challenging scenarios in a safe space. Simulations can be used in group meetings, asynchronously, or both. Simulations are proven to improve judgment and decision-making so that when aspiring leaders become sitting leaders, they are ready for the challenges of the job.

Today, online learning makes it easier for older students, working adults, persons from atypical backgrounds, and those who may be neurodiverse to access the content. Graduate and professional institutions, too, have many possibilities, with several of them offering totally or partially online programs in recent years.

The most effective Educational Leadership Development Programs provide students with the conceptual tools and professional preparation to become accomplished school leaders. Successful, capable leaders must develop the critical problem-solving skills necessary to positively influence their classrooms’ educational practice and manage the diverse demands of the overall communities in which they serve.

Our simulations can be deployed within a course’s current curriculum to provide practice to these aspiring leaders to inform their decision-making with virtual, situational experience. Developed with school districts and universities throughout the country, the topics covered by the SchoolSims Simulation Library relate to many of the issues facing the districts of enrolled students. By incorporating simulations into the existing curriculum – either facilitated in groups or deployed asynchronously – participants gain practice and begin to develop the essential muscle memory to make the best decisions in real life.

Some concerns with online learning are that professors want to ensure that students can connect with their peers and that social interaction is not lost. Simulations guarantee that interactions with classmates are not lost when taking a class online. Simulations are rich in discussion; the emotions that participants share and the decisions are not always the same. Simulations are one of the best ways to keep students engaged and open to sharing their thoughts in a safe space. Professors in Ed Leadership Programs have found that their students received almost the same amount of socialization in their online courses after implementing simulations than they would have while in person. Simulations create a discussion that cannot be replicated with other learning tools.

Unlike traditional education systems, simulations allow students to practice strategic thinking, cooperation and leadership, system operations, problem-solving, and decision-making in a safe setting. Various courses or teaching modules can be upgraded and made more acceptable to the new generation of students by assuring adequate simulation use in higher education. It is not only a powerful and significant instrument for students but also for educational institutions. Simulations are here to stay as a cost-effective and technology-driven learning approach that mimics real-world settings and allows students to learn via failures and trials.

Learn more about simulations for higher education programs:

Simulations for Ed Leadership Programs

TeacherSims for Teacher Candidates