The COVID-19 pandemic has caused, and continues to cause, major disruptions that affect the state of K–12 and college education. More than 290 million students worldwide have experienced learning regressions, anxiety, social isolation, depression, and academic failure. Given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations to cancel formal classroom learning in an attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the efficacy of traditional teaching and learning models consisting of person-to-person education has been compromised. This has left educators and parents confounded with the uncertainty of the trajectory of their students’ education. Discourse and critical reflection on the status of education and learning has escalated due to the adjustments required by the 2020–2022 paradigm shifts—virtual, hybrid, and asynchronous learning—which have presented adaptation challenges for a myriad of students and teachers. However, from a more positive point of view, it has been argued that adjusting to new learning and teaching styles encourages and challenges students and teachers to expand their learning capabilities. The full extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in K–12 and college education is still uncertain. However, the paradigm shifts that are manifested from this situation should serve as an opportunity to motivate all educational domains to consider more fully utilizing innovative technology for teaching and learning, improvising pedagogy, and rethinking the way educators prepare students for academic engagement.
Stefan Schutt, Rebecca Miles-Keogh, and Dale Linegar
For decades, simulations have helped educators build students’ skills and workplace readiness in professions such as health care and medicine. Historically, teacher education has been slower in its take-up of simulations, but the value of practice for pre-service teachers (PSTs) has become more widely recognized as digital technologies have become more. Simulations, however, are not only digital. Although their long history incorporates technology-based platforms such as virtual worlds, “serious games” and online scenarios, they also include resource-intensive face-to-face activities such as role plays involving teachers, student peers or paid actors. In teacher education a range of pedagogies support the use of simulations by recognizing the complexities of classroom practice and emphasize targeting specific aspects for skill development and supporting opportunities for deconstruction, reflection and feedback. An overview of these developments provides social practice theories as a theoretical framework for exploring the potential of simulations to help PSTs practice targeted skills in risk-free environments, followed by a potted history of simulations in education, identifying limitations, and concluding with thoughts about future directions. Examples of contemporary simulations are used throughout to illustrate specific points.