5 things to avoid when creating software simulations

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Simulations are a great way to learn new computer software. There are many different ways to design software simulations. Here are some things to avoid so your simulations are to the point and your learners stay awake!

1.  Avoid making your learner do everything

All computer systems have intuitive parts where it is obvious what to enter. Avoid making your learner do everything and explaining the intuitive parts of the system. If it is obvious how and what to enter in a field then complete this part for the learner. You can show the intuitive parts of the system being completed by:  having a video of the information being entered, or fading in data entered in text boxes.

2.  Avoid too much info

As with any learning too much unnecessary nice to know information will detract from the necessary need to know information. For example, if the system has a search box – you don’t need to tell the learners basic information such as, “you need to search more than two letters to return a search result”. They will find this out themselves using the system.

3.  Avoid training for error messages

Sometimes error messages are built into software systems to tell the learners what they should or shouldn’t do.  You do not need to pre-prompt error messages by telling the learners about them. They will figure them out the first time they receive the error message (as long as it’s in plain english of course).

4.  Avoid focusing on data entry

Avoid getting the learner to do data entry in text boxes. Unless the learning objective is on data entry and accuracy there should be no need to force the learner to enter information in a text box letter for letter. Focusing on accurate data entry will distract from the main learning focus. Also, let learners progress if they enter data wrong. Stopping them from progressing creates barriers and could cause frustration.

5.  Avoid making the simulation too long

Today is a fast paced world where people require their information and learning fast! The above tips will help you avoid making the simulation too long. Another thing you can do is break the system simulations into small topics. Learners can then quickly choose what topic they need from a list of multiple simulations. A good length to aim for is 1-4 minutes. If your simulations are longer, look at how you can break them up into smaller topics.

What else do you think we should avoid in simulations to keep the learner alert?

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