Virtual Simulations have many benefits. the top three they mentioned that resonated with me were:

  1. Students can play more than once
  2. Everyone gets to be the decision maker
  3. They are more accessible


After initial equipment costs the only cost is time. this group is now at the point where game development is free (other than the time put into developing it). Here are a few game development tips:

  • Students want to know why the right answer is right (not just why answers are wrong)
  • Pre-simulation games
  • Ideally you have a scenario that you have already developed and tested (or adapt a module)
  • Games help with preparing students for in-person simulations
  • Plan out decision points
  • Identify learning outcomes and make sure that all decision points are related to the learning outcomes
  • Film from the first person perspective (or whatever makes sense for the learning outcomes)
  • Plan the scene and responses
  • If using a go-pro keep your head as still as possible. A good trick is to hold the actor’s ponytail.
  • The actor needs to look at the camera not the person (especially if they are reading a script)
  • Having a clapperboard helps to identify clips
  • Backup tech is needed – lots of backup tech
  • Think critically about the environment
  • Check that the sound recorded properly
  • Having a director in addition to actors helps to make sure that no re-takes are needed
  • Observe lighting, blocking, sound, the environment, content
  • Remove signs to make the environment authentic
  • If filming over multiple days make sure that the actors wear the same clothes and have the same hairstyle (maybe keep their clothes)
  • Shoot in one day as much as possible
  • Think about colour contrast
  • Decide based on the complexity of the role if a paid actor (standardized patient) is needed or if a volunteer can play the role
  • Still photos may work for some decision points (along with rationale)
  • Plan the flow out of the correct response.

Here is a previous post with some nuggets from the first time I heard these presenters share their gamification lessons. The presenters also recommend to plan for a maximum of 30 minutes for the correct path. Virtual simulation needs more research in terms of how to do better debriefing. Join CanSim for access to the game, rubric and in-person scenario for free.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit


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