SIMPLE Launch event

by Paul Maharg on 07/06/2008

On Monday and Tuesday the SIMPLE project is hosting its final event, and is launching the SIMPLE Foundation. The event, sponsored by original project funds from JISC and UKCLE, and generously supplemented by both UKCLE and BILETA, will be held in Scarman House, University of Warwick. Agenda is on the provisional SIMPLE Foundation site. There had been an initial event, held at Ross Priory which started the two-year project. This one will really be the first event’s book-end. Hope the weather is as good as it was up in Scotland…View this photo

The conference is both a review and preview. On the first day we’ll review what the project has achieved over the last two years of its existence. Our participating institutions, schools and departments will contribute case studies so that the conference delegates (around 50) will be able to see in detail the depth and astonishing variety of simulation learning and assessment that was carried out.

If I’ve not referred in too much detail on the blog here about the project it’s because it was a remarkable roller-coaster ride — in retrospective, hugely ambitious, and that we all managed to carry it off still makes me wonder. Because simulation learning, when taken seriously, is in Christensen’s terms a disruptive pedagogy for law and I suspect for many professions and disciplines that have a split view of the educative process. In all the jurisdictions of these isles, we induct students through academic knowledge and skills, and only then introduce them to the professional arena. But what if we took John Dewey seriously, really took on board the lessons of experiential learning, and began with the varieties of learning by doing — clinic, problem-based learning, simulation? The SIMPLE project is aligned with such pedagogies, stretching back through UK and US education, in effect a set of critical pedagogies, a minority within the mainstream transmission approaches, stretching back to Dewey in the late nineteenth century, to Montessori, to Pestalozzi and many others. Its aim is to transform the curriculum for the professions — nothing less. Has it succeeded? We’ll see from the reports of case studies, which will give us the details of challenges and successes. General principles are not at stake here — we’ve long known that simulation learning is a powerful pedagogy. The book chapter that Karen Barton and I wrote for the Aldrich / Gibson / Prensky volume started with a meta-review of the sim research literature, which as a body proved that beyond doubt. What matters, though, is how it is enacted, within which contexts, resources, the relationship between sim learning and more traditional approaches to teaching & assessment, between life and work within the academy and outside it, and much else.

But the event is also a preview, looking to the future and the creation of the SIMPLE Foundation, along the lines of the Mozilla Foundation. We’ve invited folk who, while we were disseminating the project at conferences, in articles, book chapters and a book, have said that they were interested in joining what we’re calling the ‘second wave’ of SIMPLE participants. So the second day will consist of a workshop where people begin to draft their simulation scenarios, first on paper, then digitally, using the SIMPLE toolset, so that they can take away a first draft of what we call their ‘narrative event diagram’, as well as a familiarity with the tools, and a sense of what works and why, from the first day. From July 2008 the software, which is open-source and free to all FE and HE in the UK, will be available, and we want to spread the word as widely as possible.

Apart from everything else, I’m so looking forward to meeting everyone. Karen Barton will be blogging the two days on the Directions blog, and if I can get the time I’ll do the same here. More about the Foundation later.

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1 Digital Directions June 9, 2008 at 09:16

SIMPLE Platform gets set for second-wave launch

Over the past two years, along with JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee), UKCLE has funded an ambitious project which involved the development of a SIMulated Professional Learning Environment (SIMPLE) as an open-source software application fo…


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