5 Instructional Design Tips to Consider for Simulation Training

Designing Digitally


Simulation-based learning is increasingly being used in employee corporate training. VR, AR, MR, and online platforms are more engaging than traditional learning models. This is because immersive learning is great for:

  • Capturing learner attention

  • Customizing employee training experience

  • Improving employee confidence

  • Removing the fear of failure

A well-designed simulation training will improve employee efficiency, increase customer satisfaction, and increase your business's revenue. Still, designing simulation training is not for the faint of heart. It takes real grit to put together a training program that yields the desired results. So, where do you start? 

Here are 5 instructional design tips for simulations that will put you on the path of a successful training program:

1. Set Learning Objectives

Before anything else, make sure you know exactly what you want your employees to learn. Create a plan for how you want the training to unfold and the skills and knowledge you want your employees to walk away with. This will be the outline that keeps the process of designing simulation training on the right track.

You'll need to think about department or job-specific objectives you would like your employees to achieve. If your training simulation is geared toward improving customer service, think about employee-customer real-life situations and include those in the story. You'll need to create the setting, be specific about the language used, and vary the client type.

2. Design the Story and Visuals

Everyone loves a good story, so creating a narrative that draws the learner's interest is the hook that will get them engaged. As the story progresses, make sure to use real-life scenarios that the learner can relate to. The point is to go past superficial issues and teach solutions that the learner can then use to problem-solve similar, work-related situations.

For this to work, your employee needs to feel like the simulated character is believable. Do some research into the issues of your particular industry and the department your training simulation will serve. Bringing real customer or employee complaints into the storyline will assure that the learner empathizes with the virtual character. A deeper bond will be created and the learner will feel like they are getting valuable training they will then be able to apply in their work.

Also, keep each module short and sweet. Too much information can feel overwhelming, so feed the learner information in chunks. It can help if the structure of the course material is designed like the limbs of a tree. Each branch will take the plot in a whole new direction. The story can get more complex the farther down the tree structure they go. Or, the right answer can reveal itself earlier on in the module.

Consider adding multimedia- photos, videos, short quizzes. These will keep the learner engaged and provide short breaks from just reading the content. If the modules teach a more technical subject, voice-over can help in clarifying what the learner is looking at.

3. Set Training Expectations

What outcomes do you want your training simulation to have? Make sure to let your employees know the benefits of the program as well as the expectations you have of them upon course completion. Each training module should have specific goals that can translate into increased productivity, better problem-solving, diplomacy in staff management, etc.

4. Establish a Degree of Interaction

The level of interaction your simulation will have depends on the type of platform you choose to run your training on. Not all eLearning simulations imply virtual or augmented reality. Figure out beforehand how much interaction you want between your trainees and the software. Will they be answering short questions or will they have customized avatars that complete game-like levels?

Choose the level of interaction based on your budget. Although simulations are often more affordable than traditional education modules, the more detail you add, the more money they will end up costing. This is the step where you put into balance employee growth and business needs.

5. Design an Assessment Strategy and Feedback System

You will also need to set up an assessment and feedback strategy before running your simulation with your actual employees. Staff needs to be able to communicate what they liked or disliked about the simulation training. They also need to have self-assessment tools. This will give you a better idea of their own self-confidence in completing certain tasks versus what the test results show you. Regular short assessments throughout the course will help show you individual employee evolution. This type of assessment will also solidify the learner's knowledge since they have to repeat what they learned soon after learning it.

Assessment results and feedback link back to training simulation learning objectives. This is an interactive way of adjusting the course material and content to fit the real needs of your employees and business.


Simulation training design can become a behemoth if you let it. Start logically, check with your employees, and adjust the training program as needed. As with any task, having a blueprint to work off of will be very helpful. Start with refining the learning goals and desired outcomes. Then, write a story that will keep the learner engaged, complete with relatable characters. For your course to become more effective, evaluate the hard data along the way and at the end of the training course. 

For help with your training simulation, get a copy of our eBook or contact our team to discuss your training needs today! 

Please note this article was originally posted by our team on elearningindustry.com but was updated by our team on 3/30/2021.