How do I assess students’ knowledge and understanding in an authentic, simulation-based digital environment?

Digital simulations can provide rich and authentic learning activities and can be based on workplace environments, case studies and branching scenarios.

Giving students an authentic experience of the workplace can be logistically challenging. One approach, that can be used at scale, is to develop a work-based simulation that unfolds over a semester. Integrating branching options supports realistic decision-making and linking assessment tightly to the scenario builds an authentic experience.

While you can create a case-based simulation and use it solely as a learning activity, integrating the scenario with the subject’s assessments you can create a far richer learning experience.

What are the advantages?

For students

  • A simulation offers a different and interactive means of integrating substantive knowledge about a topic into student learning
  • Students can examine and analyse an issue/problem/situation in an environment that reflects the complexity and authenticity of the ‘real world’
  • It encourages collaboration among students through discussion, unpacking, analysing and solving issues and problems presented as part of the simulation
  • Self-discovery, inquiry and investigation by the student builds the student’s self-directed learning capability
  • Students have the opportunity generalise from the specific instance presented in the simulation and to develop a range of skills which can be applied in both this instance and generally

For educators

  • Once a scenario is developed, it can be reused in a variety of ways (for example in-class activities, quizzes)

Support and resources

Creating a scenario using Canvas pages with links:

  • In this method the instructor creates a Canvas landing page and sub-pages that link to each other. The landing page exists in Modules (so it can be directly accessed) and the sub-pages only exist in the Pages area (so the branches are not viewable in a linear way). The benefit of using pages is that it provides lots of room for integrating a range of content, for example text, videos, audio, links etc.

Aside from Canvas pages, there are other tools that can be used for scenarios:


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This page was last updated on 16 Jun 2021.

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