Simulation may be the e-learning “killer app”
By James Lundy, Debra Logan, Kathy Harris
August 29, 2002

Simulation software has been used in equipment service and military applications since the 1980s. Now it is poised to become a mainstream corporate application through e-learning.

What you need to know

Simulation-enabled content can revolutionize learning and accelerate the transfer and application of knowledge. Enterprises should leverage the scalability and immersion characteristics of simulations to accelerate time to competency and depth of competency. By 2006, 70 percent of all off-the-shelf and custom e-learning content will include some application of simulations (0.8 probability).

Analysis

Enterprises that have invested in e-learning have told Gartner that their biggest payback occurs when they include simulation as part of their overall e-learning curriculum. Simulation will evolve to become the “killer application” for e-learning. Interest in simulation is increasing for several reasons. Research with adult learners consistently shows learning is most effective in problem-solving or hands-on situations. Simulations bring students closer to the real experience than do simple unidirectional (teacher or courseware to student) instructional techniques. Technology is now available (and continuing to evolve) that enables enterprises to build simulations that are complex, visually stimulating, interactive and provide immediate feedback. Finally, Web capabilities-such as collaborative commerce applications, rich media (audio-conferencing and videoconferencing) and network connectivity-can enable rich, complex simulations to be extended across enterprise boundaries.

Gartner has identified seven categories of simulation:

Animation or spatial simulation
Role-playing
If-then process simulation
Hands-on practice
“What-if” interactive models
Virtual reality or immersive simulation
Games
Benefits
Simulation-based learning provides benefits in five key areas:

1. Accelerated learning: Simulation can reduce the time to competency and increase the depth of competency. Studies have shown that simulation can make a student proficient at a skill four to six months earlier than those who took a training class but had no application of the knowledge.

2. Scalability: Simulations are highly scalable, which can lead to increased throughput in learning programs. Computer-based simulations allow more people to be trained in a shorter time frame than the traditional method of learning in hands-on labs.

3. “Anywhere” access: Simulations enable students to practice exercises repeatedly and from any location. This is particularly useful for skills that need to be practiced on or with equipment.

4. Lower costs: Simulation can provide significant cost savings. If test equipment is mission-critical or expensive, simulating it can be a real money saver.

5. Increased attention span: An increased attention span means an increased likelihood of the student completing the course work: Interactivity holds the learner’s attention longer than unidirectional instruction. Increasing the intensity and time of the student’s attention improves the quality and the retention of learning.

Applications of Simulations in the Learning Process
Simulations can be used throughout the learning process to improve teaching and learning practices.

1. Teaching: Key areas where simulations can improve teaching include supervisory skills (role-playing), customer service skills (what-if interactive models, role-playing), maintenance and repair (animation, spatial simulation, virtual reality) and certifications (hands-on practice).

2. Planning: Administrators may use the modeling forms of simulation for curriculum planning or analysis, and students may use what-if scenarios and models to evaluate the time required to complete a course of study.

3. Testing or progress evaluation: Key uses of simulations include testing, evaluation and certification.

4. Collaboration: Simulating classroom interactions (for example, using icons for each class member, employing group games) can improve the adoption of and attention to e-learning. These, in turn, improve learning as well as retention.

Outlook for Corporate Use

Adding simulations to e-learning content and curricula is an investment worth considering. Simulations can be done by custom content providers or in-house development staff using general-purpose authoring tools such as those from Macromedia. Tools and services are emerging that should lower the cost of developing simulations. The majority of these tools focus on specific types of training, such as IT and sales; but once proven, they will be applied more broadly. A number of tools are now available for simulating software training.

Enterprises can also consider vendors of simulation authoring tools that allow system dynamics or other processes to be modeled and simulated. The Simulab project created under the Telematics in Education and Training program is a tool for building role-based scenarios focused on language learning. Simentor, a tool from Access Technologies Group, focuses on simulating sales scenarios. The readiness of these tools for mainstream corporate use varies. Those that are the most well-developed focus on a narrow curriculum area.

In the corporate environment, IT and sales force training have long been the focus of e-learning development. Consequently, these areas will have earlier access to and better-developed simulation tools. However, enterprises should expect the application of simulation techniques to expand throughout the business environment. They should also expect that high-cost or high-risk professional or service jobs will also be good candidates for early application of simulations.

Enterprises should expect that simulation design and construction will be complex and time-consuming. Building a curriculum that is rich in simulations will require new skills among course designers, instructors and students. Costs of enterprises’ early work will be high. Service providers are available to assist enterprises in developing simulations. A viable option is to outsource the initial simulation work while building or acquiring the needed competencies and experience.

Key Issue

Which technologies will best support the learning needs of knowledge workers?

Simulation May Be Your E-Learning ‘Killer Application’
By James Lundy | Debra Logan | Kathy Harris
First published August 19, 2002

在英国,更多的政府和学术界支持的研究工作开始发挥了成效,让更多的学校和学习者获得开放带来的好处。最近NLN和JISC就合作公开了一些教学资源给大学的教师使用,让他们能够下载到本地服务器上给学生提供服务。这些课程(有些是PLATO制作的)都非常精美,交互性很好。NLN的网址在这里,今后可以查阅。

昨天下载的Aggie, 不但有源代码让人兴奋,而且确实让人看到了未来语义网络的发展趋势,让网络上的各种信息能够最大程度地汇聚起来,形成个性化的信息服务。这个程序应用了RSS (Rich Site Summary, or RDF Site Summary) 的模型,能够更好地把网络上现在最流行的Blog 应用和未来的语义网能够衔接起来,成为专业人士的最爱。Aggie的可爱之处还有它把每个RSS中的信息摘要部分用非常小的字体显示,鼠标点过可以放大,好!

中国在外留学人员总数达46万

  广州讯据广州日报报道,资料显示,中国已经迅速成为世界上最大的留学生派出国。据悉,目前中国在外留学人员总数达46万人,分布在至少103个国家和地区。

  专家指出,近几年来,中国人投入“洋学校”的钱就像打开闸门的水,源源不断。据权威部门的估计数据,仅美国,中国留学生每年都要送去数亿美元。而就中国46万名留学生的消费推算,其民间教育资本的流失至少突破了100亿元人民币。

港教育开支削减9亿元
2002年09月03日 09:43

凤凰卫视9月3日消息:在政府全面紧缩开支下,财政司长已勒令教育统筹局下个财政年度要削减9亿元经常开支,教统局高层正急谋对策。

教统局现正部署如何减省9亿元,考虑的方案包括向逾千间中小学「开刀」,每校一律削减经费1.2%,即约42万元。

学校议会和教团对「一刀切」削学校经费的方案大表反对,认为会对学校构成冲击,并会影响教学质素。

财政司长梁锦松上周向所有问责局长派发「财政信封」,并要求他们10月「交功课」。信内要求各政策范畴全面削减下个财政年度的预算开支,连特首「爱护有加」的教育也不能幸免。

消息称,政府拟削减预算中的教育经常开支1.8%,即9亿元。由于教育经常开支大部分属教师薪酬,那部分属「减无可减」,教统局要减省9亿,可谓难上加难。据悉,教统局正研究多项「省钱」方案,其中一项是学校划一削减经费。

消息人士透露,如果当局真的将1.8%减幅全数转嫁学校,以一间有30班的学校每年经费3500万元计算,要「扣回」63万元拨款,相信会带来很大冲击。

因此,政府高层考虑将减幅调低至1.2%,学校要「扣回」的款项约42万,相信学校可以负担得起。若以全港1200间中小学计算,此举可为当局省回5亿元,实时纾缓一半的财政困局。至于余下的4亿元,则要向其它方面打主意。

基础教育要面临削减经费,大学教育也「难逃厄运」。据悉,另一项节省开支方案是撤回受资助的副学士及修课式硕士课程,其实政府早前已表明有此意思,虽然反对声音不小,但以现时的恶劣环境而言,撤回资助可谓势在必行。

不过,当局不会要求院校一次过将课程转为自负盈亏,只会逐步转型。此外,一些冷门科目或社会需求较大的培训课程,也会保留资助,如教育文凭等。

除了削减资助,当局也要重订政策的优先次序,暂缓的项目包括2007年全面落实小学全日制目标。本学年内全日制学额有60%,余下未转全日制的小学有168间,但转制的难度及成本愈来愈高,新校舍既不易觅得,部分受家长欢迎的半日制小学也不愿搬迁到他区的新校舍,故当局考虑放弃坚持按时间表推行。

此外,高中及大学改制也因财政问题而暂缓,原定10年内全盘落实的目标将无法实现。但当局仍会投放资源改善师训。

教统局常任秘书长罗范椒芬说,政府投放教育的资源实在不少,现在是时候检视资源是否有效运用。她说若留心看,一定可省钱,再将省下的资源投放在新措施。至于如何节省,她说每个人都要想想用纳税人的一分一毫是否达到最佳成效,没成效的活动可能减少或删除。她举例说,如培训活动可集中一点做

专家认为七巧板起源于中国古老的测量工具矩
2002年09月01日 15:02

新华社北京9月1日电(记者孙晓胜 李颖)中国最权威的七巧板专家傅起凤在她最新出版的专著《七巧世界》中指出,七巧板应该来源于4000年前中国古老的测量工具——矩。

七巧板是中国民间流传最广、也是最常见的一种古典智力玩具,人们可用七块大小不同的正三角形和矩形拼出各种图形。关于它的起源历史上众说纷纭,有说是源于勾股法,有说是由宋明以后的生活用具燕几、蝶几演化而来。

历史上关于七巧板的记载最早见于清嘉庆甲戌十九年(1814年),桑下客在《正续七巧板图合壁》序言中说:“七巧之妙,亦名合巧图,其源出于勾股法。”傅起凤经过30多年的考据证明,从文化数理源渊来看,七巧板源于人们对“矩”——直角三角形的认识。

“七巧板最显著的特点,是全部图形都以矩为基础构成,七巧游戏可以说是矩的游戏。”傅起凤说,“我们的祖先对矩情有独钟,认识、研究、应用矩非常之早。中国古代的数学经典《周髀算经》和《九章算术》中,最早讨论了矩的性质和勾股定理的应用问题,在世界科学史上具有极其重要的作用。”

西汉时期的中国数学经典《周髀算经》中,有周公与大夫商高关于矩的对话。而在中国四川、山东、河南等地的汉墓中也发现了伏羲和女娲,一人举规,一人握矩的画像石。

傅起凤说:“把几个直角三角形或合或分,可以千变万化,得到无数的图形,这本身就是非常有趣的事。古人就是在实践中获得这种灵感,以矩为基础创造出七巧板游戏。”

在新书《七巧世界》中,傅起凤还阐明了七巧板与矩、与勾股法、与出入互补和与燕几、蝶几的关系。书中还提供了她多年收集的3000个七巧古谱和答案,以及傅起凤的父母傅天正、曾庆蒲创造的1000个新图,此外还收录了构思巧妙的七巧书法900幅。(完)

从现实的局部角度来看,却是很难看到标准、元数据、语义对应用的好处,但是一旦扩大到一个区域,一个生态系统中,有不同的角色完成不同的任务,则立刻可以显示出这些技术的作用价值。所以应当充分考虑这个因素,可能从消费者的角度入手,用更大的测试平台来发展标准化的电子教育,这也正是互联教育体系的用武之地。