in branching stories, more dynamic simulations, from
interactive spreadsheets to practiceware, need live coaches.
Coaches are critical members of any simulation
community, and of any sim deployment, and both technology and
process must be built to support them.
Coaches can be co-located or remote, synchronous or
At least three factors drive the need for coaches
- The divergence of the learning (increase need for coaching)
- The importance that the learning actually occurs (increase
- How well designed the sim is (decrease need)
SimuLearn has two master-level coaches, Graham Courtney and Tom
Parkinson (Tom seen here with an US Army group). Their
mantra is: "Our role is 99% to motivate. Let the
simulation do the teaching." This is really hard for so many
people with training backgrounds, who are, by necessity,
Coaches can give specific assignments, break students into teams,
ask students to redo, or skip ahead. They can run facilitated group
sessions. They can sometimes explain parts of the simulation. They
can make issues more specific (many of our coaches review 360 data
before students begin taking the simulations). They can do live
After Action Reviews or review uploaded or submitted AAR data
hours or days later. And they can still grade.
Preparing coaches requires a facilitator's guide and even a train
the trainer program, all typically part of the simulation
This role, from being a traditional instructor to be a coach, has
often been talked about. But simulations provide a transition
strategy for instructors to leverage many of their traditional
skills to increase their own value considerably to end-learners.