About Self-Managed Training Simulation

December 11th, 2020
Self-managed training

“What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.” (Confucius)

Yes, doing is the best way to learn, but the ancient Chinese scholar was only “half right”, because just any old “doing” … won’t do!

The fact is, my father taught my mother how to drive the family car long before I was born. And because she “adopted” all his good and bad habits, my parents instead decided to send me to “drivers ed” when I was old enough, to learn to drive properly.

Practically, “drivers ed” does two things:

  • it defines the right tasks to bring you up to speed
  • it provides the right feedback to help you improve

in a way that changes as you progress, That’s how you develop the right habits and (hopefully) none of the bad ones.

More generally, we call that coaching, and that’s why one of our customers used the words “bionic coach” to describe training simulation. Your “bionic coach” never gets angry with you when you make mistakes, or discouraged when you’re making little progress, and it treats everyone in exactly the same way.

The Importance of Trust

Just like my parents trusted “drivers ed” to teach me to drive the family car properly, you need to be able to trust your training simulation to teach people to operate heavy equipment properly, especially when that training simulation is unsupervised and self-managed.

And how can you do that? By evaluating the quality of the instructional design, the quality of the simulation software (graphics and physics), the quality of the simulation hardware, and the quality of the company standing behind everything. Let’s now look at some details.

Instructional Design and Feedback Automation

The best training simulation begins with “task analysis”, i.e. studying (real) people doing (real) work at the controls of (real) heavy equipment, to create an Instructional Design consisting of Simulation Modules that introduce the key elements one at a time, with each module building upon what’s learned in the previous modules. 

Of course, the Instructional Design should also take into account best-in-class practices from leading operator training professionals, and guidance from key “normative” and certifying organizations that have developed standardized demonstration of skills tests or “Practical Exams”.

And to make that correspondence clear, there ought to be documentation that spells out how the simulated tasks “align” with the tasks that are part of those real world “Practical Exams”. Only in this way can you be sure that simulated work is properly preparing you for real work.

Then to track skills development, there ought to be multiple Performance Indicators to measure how quickly, and how carefully, the simulated work is performed. In this way, feedback is presented as the values of the Performance Indicators. Let’s call that “Feedback Automation”.

Finally, for each module, you’ll want to have hundreds of pre-defined trials (exercises) right “out of the box”, to provide many hours of continuous simulator-based training for the necessary drill and practice.

“Self-Managed” Training Simulation

Now with the right kind of Instructional Design, and the right kind of Feedback Automation, there are two more “building blocks” to consider, to make simulator-based training self-managed”:

  • Because there’s no Trainer to show me what to do, there should be videos that I can watch (and re-watch) by myself to understand what needs to be done. And the best videos are instructional, i.e. they “explain” by presenting views of the simulated work from both inside and outside the simulated cabin.
  • Because there’s no Trainer watching me, my simulation results must be automatically saved, and in a way that will make it easy for the Trainer to review what I’ve done some time later.
  • Because I’m by myself, I need to be able to easily compare my simulation results with targets or “benchmarks” set by the Trainer, to be able to monitor my own progress.

Taken together, this is what “self-managing” simulator-based training means. And in this way, your Trainer will be able to spend time where it counts the most, i.e. with trainees who are ready for real work, after preparing so well doing simulated work.

Training for Proficiency (however long that takes)

It’s easy to see that when developing a new skill, attaining a certain level of proficiency means continuing to train until your simulation results meet the benchmarks. But because everyone’s different, the duration of that simulator-based training will vary, sometimes by a factor or two or even three. In this way, training is performance-based, not time-based.

And if you’re feeling discouraged, remember that doing poorly is the “price” of learning to do well. And when you think about it, anything worth doing is worth doing poorly … until you can do it well.

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