Teaching 21st century competencies through simulation. ELSE Part 2

In my previous blog about the ELSE European project I gave an introduction to some of the ideas that struck me as being key. Here I will look at one of its outputs.

The E-core simulation software is introduced as an easy authoring tool for the creation of open and reusable resources. The development team claim that the only skills that a practitioner needs to have to use E-core is the ability to create an engaging story as well as design effective formative assessment.

Fire with two bikes nearby
Firefighter demo.Markus Spikse. Unsplash


The overall aim of the tool is to support learning by, amongst other things, simplifying “reality” so that learners can better understand the complexity in a given learning situation, support exploration of risky scenarios and make invisible relationships between things tangible. The latter, presumably, is the application of  a ‘systems thinking’ approach often quoted as being an important 21st century competency.

‘A discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots” Senge, P. (1990).

This reminded me of the recent Systems integration symposium organised by the School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering and the Institution of Engineering Designers here at City. Industry and academics came together to discuss ways of developing STEM students’ understanding of how system integration is essential for the success of complex projects. So potentially something like E-core could be a useful learning technology for the teaching of subjects such as engineering.

In groups we were invited to try out a simulation activity which was of a new teacher dealing with a difficult situation in her school. However, we all appeared to struggle to understand what exactly we needed to do and it took us a while to realise that there was no clear feedback indicating if we were doing the individual steps correctly. What we did get at the end was a percentage based on a series of weighted answers that graduated towards the right or wrong side. The reasoning here is that a clear cut right or wrong answer is not a reflection of real life. There is however a focus on setting up a more qualitative feedback.

Loud discussions across the group ensued and the development team certainly took on a lot of feedback, including questions about the tool’s accessibility. We could not change the font size or the background color for instance. Furthermore, some of us felt that the interface could be improved for clarity. However, the tool is under development so work is still being done. We were also told that we could request an account if we were interested in trying it out. I personally felt the principles behind E-core are very interesting and I do look forward to seeing it in the future.

To find out more about the E-core project go to the ELSE website.


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