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Clark Aldrich is an education technology thought leader – the author of five books and developer of patent and award-winning projects. He currently builds custom Short Sims for organizations using a revolutionary methodology he has pioneered or helps them build their own, through www.shortsims.com. He is also the host of an audio series called Education X Media (www.edbymedia.com) about evolving pedagogy in academics, corporations, and the military. Clark has just released a few chapters from his newest book, on the topic of Short Sims, at shortsims.com/handbook.
This is the second episode with Clark. If you want the full typical episode with Clark you can find it on Episode 94.
In Clark’s opinion, the traditional e-learning today is a PowerPoint presentation or a video of someone talking. What he is proposing with his book Short Sims is a new type of content that is much more interactive and although it might not be exactly game-like, it introduces a lot of interesting decisions throughout the course.
Clark would agree with anyone who criticizes the model for being too basic but would argue that the simplicity of the structure and media does not necessarily mean for a non-profound or non-appropriate experience. In his opinion, there is also a place in the world for simple content as in the corporate world they don’t want training that is too deep or too time-consuming as most people won’t do it.
He wants people to be able to create good content by following a rigorous process. But also he wants us to be done with it so it can be created over a few weekends and isn’t a huge commitment in time. This is important to be able to create enough content that the world needs.
It’s of Clark’s opinion that we need to start editing other people’s content/sims and this is an advantage that comes with short sims. With this, you can go into it, see how it’s been designed and figure out some of the decisions that were made along the way. You can then go in and modify it and make a different version. This happens with case studies and textbooks and Clark thinks we need to get there with interactive content. He has seen a surge in the percentage of learning content that is delivered through short sims in his clients that have been only increasing since they started off.
The first step in the process of creating a short sim is to pick out a good topic. Then it is important to identify the audience. It is then really important to go for an interview process with the subject matter expert. You can usually do this within an hour for a sim that is under 10 minutes. The primary question for that expert is ‘What is the best way of doing this?’ and ‘What are the most common mistakes?’. From the notes, you can then create a bunch of notecards of common problems and interesting solutions. From these notecards, you can then start thinking about the sim. The first question for the short sim is what the setting is going to be. Once you have this, you can then start blocking out the basic interactions in terms of levels with each level dealing with some part of the process and giving decisions along the way. Next, you can start considering graphics, which does by no means need to be sophisticated. Once the sim is created you can start refining it. At this stage, the ease of change is really important so you can start implementing feedback from the first iterations. Since it is something short and easy to manage, you will actually be keen on getting feedback to make changes for improvement, without breaking the bank.
Clark would recommend going to BranchTrack as the first sim you create is free. If you want to start learning it’s a great place to start building, Clark would start by creating a linear sim. Clark would also recommend checking out the shortsims.com/play to see the short sims he has created so you can get inspired.
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