To demonstrate my competence synthesizing knowledge, I present Integrating Features of Constructivism into Emergency Preparedness Exercises In Virtually Simulated Environments which describes how key concepts of Constructivism can enhance virtual reality (VR) simulated emergency preparedness exercises and increase their legitimacy as educational tools. Throughout the paper I presented VR simulation as a valuable asset for increasing the affordability and feasibility of preparedness exercises and Constructivism as the conduit to instructional efficacy and validity. Great effort was taken to merge two disciplines and to draw parallels between the needs of the emergency management field and the solutions provided by the instructional design field. The paper includes a literature review, application of key concepts, and a conclusion.
Emergency preparedness exercises, despite being training/learning experiences at their core, have traditionally been developed apart from direct instructional design influences. Knowing this, I was aware that my understanding of relevant literature while making comparisons and drawing conclusions was all the more important. My literature review in this paper synthesizes the most up-to-date perspectives on the subject while setting the stage for the “Application” section, which would fall flat without the solid knowledge base the literature provides.
For this paper I chose to dive into Constructivism and describe how constructivist principles can be applied to virtual environments to improve the quality of preparedness exercises. Initially, it was difficult to feel as though I had adequately explained the principles of Constructivism and the jargon-heavy world of emergency management, but with more research into the topic it became apparent how inextricably the two were linked; the need for explanation died as parallel concepts were uncovered. For example, after describing the transfer and retention issues faced by exercise planners, basic tenants of Constructivism like creating true-to-life learning environments, presented themselves as natural solutions. As I note on page 3, “Constructivism, and its undeniable compatibility with virtual environments, provides a framework for designers to improve retention and transfer while encouraging concept mastery” (Nagy, 2016).
Developing real-world applications for VR simulations (and Constructivism by extension) to preparedness exercise planning was a—as many emergency managers would say—mission critical, particularly given the disinterest the emergency management field has traditionally displayed towards working at a theoretical level. In the “Application” section of this artifact I provide concrete recommendations for developing VR materials, like focusing on the realism of cause and effect over the superficial environment (p.5) and maintain control of contingencies that can be tailored to different scenarios and geographic locations (p. 7) (Nagy, 2016).
Nagy, S. (2016). Integrating Features of Constructivism into Emergency Preparedness Exercises In Virtually Simulated Environments. [Research Paper].