Let’s Play! Using simulation games as a sustainable way to enhance students’ motivation and collaboration in Open and Distance Learning: Daniel Otto
Let’s Play! Using simulation games as a sustainable way to enhance students’ motivation and collaboration in Open and Distance Learning
Simulation games in higher education can be thought of as an innovative tool in order to illustrate complex problems and make them more intelligible. As a student-centered approach it allows personal interaction which enhances student motivation and collaboration. Numerous studies show that emotional and personal commitment can result in better learning outcomes. While simulation games in conventional universities can look back upon a comparatively long tradition, Open and Distance Learning (ODL) for a long time did not take on board this idea. However, recent developments in technology have bridged the gap of adequate tools which have long been identified as the central hurdle in utilizing simulation games for ODL. Based on its characteristic features, simulation games seem particularly suitable for learning about environmental topics. First, it allows students to virtually collaborate and learn about environmental problems in a playful manner which can lead to mutual learning experiences. Second, the concept itself is sustainable as it brings together students without environmental externalities. Empirically, this article draws on experiences gained during an online simulation course of international climate change negotiations. In these negotiations groups of students take the role of states to bargain for a common climate change agreement. Data and student surveys collected since 2010 show that the course led to enhanced motivation and comprehensibility of environmental negotiations processes.