Portrait of young african american professional using augmented virtual reality in modern loft office. VR technology
ATD Blog

What Motivates TD Pros to Choose Tech-Based Simulations?

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

When thinking of technology-based simulations—those that rely on computers to create the environment or experience that they simulate—it’s natural to imagine wowing learners with deep, immersive, and high-fidelity experiences. However, in reality, the chance to use showstopping tools such as virtual reality is rarely a factor in choosing technology-based simulations over nontechnology-based alternatives. Much more important, according to participants in a recent ATD Research report, Simulations and Scenarios: Realistic, Effective, and Engaging Learning, are tech-based simulations’ logistical advantages.

When the research asked participants whose organizations used technology-based simulations about the specific reasons they had chosen them over ones that didn’t involve computer technology, they cited learners being able to complete simulations on their own time (58 percent) more frequently than any of the other 13 factors presented to them. Learners being able to complete simulations from any location was close behind, cited by 56 percent of respondents.

Research from ATD Research on Choosing Technology-Based Simulations
These responses lead to an important question: Why would convenience play such an important role in deciding which type of simulation to use, being even more influential than safety precautions taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic or simulating environments and situations that can’t be recreated without technology?

The simple answers are time and money.


Karl Kapp, professor of instructional technology and director for the Institute of Interactive Technologies at Bloomsburg University, illustrated this point in an interview for the report by telling the story of a simulation he worked on for a medical device company. The experience was conceived as an instructor-facilitated simulation conducted in-person without technology, and all 150,000 of the company’s employees would be asked to complete it. However, that presented a major problem—only 10 to 12 employees could complete the simulation at the same time, and at that pace, it would have taken three years for everyone to complete it, pulling key experts off their jobs to serve as facilitators.


“We realized that the technology-based option was much more convenient because the experts could spend one chunk of time getting the simulation right, get everyone trained, and go back to their regular jobs,” said Kapp. In the end, the organization went with a self-paced online format.

For a deeper dive into the research, join me February 16 for the webcast Simulations and Scenarios Research: Highlights and Best Practices.

About the Author

Alex Moore is a research analyst for the Association for Talent Development. Alex returned to ATD in 2019 after spending a year living and working in Chile. Prior to moving abroad, Alex was a writer/editor for ATD working on TD magazine, a research coordinator at ATD, and a customer care advocate at ATD. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 with a B.A. in English.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.