Incorporating Simulations Leads to More Effective Safety Training

By Roy Maurer Jan 12, 2015
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Research sponsored by the American Red Cross shows that adding interactive, scenario-based online simulations to in-person classroom training is more effective than lectures alone for instructing people on health and safety topics such as CPR and first aid.

According to the study, supplementing classroom training with online simulation learning offers four key benefits:

  • A safe environment in which trainees can test their knowledge of concepts and practice skills without real-world consequences.
  • Realistic interactive scenarios that offer high “psychological fidelity,” or situational realism that will prepare them for real-world situations.
  • A more engaging platform than classroom or text learning. The use of gamification increases trainees’ emotional connection to the subject matter, increasing the likelihood that they will retain the knowledge taught, according to the study.
  • A practice-ready tool allowing learners to repeatedly test their skills and knowledge at their own pace and through a variety of hypothetical enactments.

The Red Cross stressed that online training tools are not intended to replace classroom instruction, and that simulation learning is best when combined with in-person classroom training. This blended learning format allows trainees to engage with instructors after becoming acquainted with the topics through simulations and also to then reapply their knowledge online.

The study follows a 2014 survey by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in which nearly 5,000 Red Cross trainers responded that simulation learning is a good addition to current teaching methods.

A blended learning format is expected to be incorporated into all Red Cross first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) training, as well as training for first responders, by spring 2015.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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