Participatory simulations are immersive, experiential learning tools that provide a bridge between classroom learning and real-world application. In these sims, participants are presented with unstructured, dynamic problems. To handle these problems, they’ll need to draw on knowledge from an array of disciplines. Participants have a chance to hone skills like critical analysis, crisis management, leadership, group decision making, and strategic thinking.
In the world of public policy, they provide an opportunity for students and stakeholders to explore the complexities of real-world issues as well as the nuances of effective leadership.
The Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming creates the simulations for the NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition. They take real-world problems such as the spread of a disease or managing food security and turn it into a conceptual system model, which is the basis for a simulation. The real-world system is then turned into computer code.
Opportunities to alter the system’s (and thus the simulation’s) outcome outcome are included: these are the policies students, as role players, may choose to enact.
In the course of a participatory simulation the various role players must interact in order to achieve a common goal. All the simulations that are used in the Student Simulation Competition require participants to balance individual goals with team objectives as well as overall world aims.
The video below will give you a sense of what a participatory simulation looks like in action. The students in this event were using a classroom version of the simulation developed for the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition.
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