Services: Content Development
Whilst the tools we produce are freely available
we understand that the skills or time to produce educationally valid
simulations may not always be present within small teams. using our
Using our inside knowledge of the tools and the educational use of
simulations, we can help with all aspects of the design and development
process: from model specification and coding, through to interface
design and delivery.
Simulation Development Process
We see the delivery of
interactive learning content with simulations as a linear (sometimes
iterative) process which has the following steps:
Bringing together all the requirements for a simulation or set of
simulations is the key step in the process. It is vitally important to
consider all possible uses for a simulation - different educational
contexts (demonstration, lab replacement, revision assessment etc.),
different educational levels (beginner to expert) and to build support
for all these objectives into the requirements specification to be
given to the programmer. This process is dealt with in more detail below.
The simulation model is written in java. For most simulations, the
model will not be particularly complex (JeLSIM takes care of all the
GUI programming, and the simulation model mainly defines the simulation
algorithm and the inputs and outputs required by the simulation).
Exceptionally, a simulation may require a custom visualisation object
(for instance to allow visualisation of the orbit of a planet around
the sun in 3-dimensions) and for this, greater programming skill may be
Interface authoring is best done by a teacher but could be carried out
by a designer working in tandem with the teacher.
to WebThe end of the
process of creating a simulation is to 'Save to web'. JeLSIM provides
one-click deployment of simulations to the web, with all the relevant
files and directory structures created. In addition, SCORM and IMS
Content Packages can be created to archive the applets generated.
Simulations should not exist in isolation, and good content will place
the simulations in context with introductory materials, supporting
materials and opportunity for reflection provided by post-simulation
Planning and specifying the
simulation model, as highlighted above, is the key stage in the
process. Usually the need for a simulation is identified by a teacher
who may see their students struggling with a particular concept, or who
feels that the course requires more active learning. Once a need has
been identified, a simulation team can be assembled. The team might
who provides the initial specification and ensure that the interfaces
produced are educationally valid.
who will ensure that the simulation is valid and accurate. The subject
expert may also be able to extend the scope of the simulation so that
it can be used in other contexts and at other levels.
who will actually write the model, and who may be able to suggest novel
visualisations or optimise the model.
who may suggest novel applications for the simulation model based on
other educational uses of simulations. the instructional designer can
also provide advice on how simulations might be integrated with
who can make the final simulations look attractive, and provide a
consistent 'look and feel' or house style.
Briefly, the User
Requirements Document asks the following questions:
- What process / system does
the simulation model?
- How is this subject
- Do the students have
specific problems or misconceptions?
- How would you expect the
simulation to improve upon current teaching of the subject?
- How will the simulation be
used in class?
- How will the success of the
simulation be tested?
- What are the main inputs,
and input methods?
- What are the main outputs of
- Sketch of the simulation.
- What Introductory Content is
- What Supporting Material is
- What Analytical Material is
- How could the model you have
specified be extended to support different educational aims?
Once these requirements have
been captured, the user requirements are given to the programmer who
can create a model. This is then supplied to the teacher or designer
with sample interfaces which can then be customised to fit specific
The key advantage of the JeLSIM tools is that a single simulation model
can give rise to any number of visualisations, each suited to a
particular educational objective. The programmer provides the
simulation model to the teacher or designer who then loads the model
into the JeLSIM tools and starts to create interfaces. In addition to
the model, sample interfaces and documentation can be supplied.
Advising on and creating simulation models and interfaces would be
charged at our normal consultancy rates. As we see the value of
providing content to the community more generally, we are sometimes
able to reduce costs if the model is put into the public domain. There
may also be the opportunity to raise some money from external agencies
if the work is of research value.