This course’s faculty wanted to diversify their course content towards increased and sustained engagement while also strengthening the students’ comprehension, allowing students to internalize and apply what they were learning. In discussing these desires and reflecting on the course objectives, they worked with an instructional designer in brainstorming how best to address the two items (instructional goals and learning objectives). Focusing on the course goal to “develop strategies involved in conducting organizational change management and establishing governance” and active learning as a strategy, the online interactive simulation was selected as the technology best suited to integrate in her course design.
While other third-party simulation technologies were considered, the ultimate determination was stick with a technology supported by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (BSPH): the PathFinder tool. This scenario-based, active learning option is part of the BSPH CoursePlus learning management system (LMS) platform. The activity requires faculty script a scenario, or story, that takes students through a series of decision points. Each time a student is faced with a decision, the faculty has the opportunity to build in automated feedback – even scaffolded support – based on the student choice. And each choice can, in turn, allow students to start over, try that decision again, continue to the next decision point in the scenario, or find success in completion. Taking the storyline, pathways, optional feedback, and actual creation of the activity into consideration, the simulation takes a lot of “up front” work on behalf of the faculty. However, as demonstrated in this instance, the well-designed PathFinder usually leads to satisfaction on behalf of the faculty and students both.
In choosing a tool inside of the BSPH CoursePlus system, faculty made certain the activity:
- Was readily available to everyone enrolled in the course site
- Required no user requirements beyond the LMS terms of service
- Was verified as digitally accessible
- Provided immediate, automated feedback (as designed by faculty) to students during and upon completion
- Quality simulation-based (also referred to as scenario-based) learning takes careful planning including developing the story, deciding the decision points, and writing appropriate choices with results and feedback