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Case Study: Professional BaFa’ BaFa’ – Building Cultural Competence: Tools to Foster More Productive Community Relations.

Introducing the Rules for BaFa' BaFa' Introducing the Rules for Professional BaFa’ BaFa’.

The Situation:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2015 Community Involvement Training Conference was held on August 4-6, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. The competition for presenters was very strong, they received 118 proposals and only had slots for 37 presentations. Skeo Solutions were excited to be chosen as one of the presenters for their training session, Building Cultural Competence: Tools to Foster More Productive Community Relations. Living and Learning the Alpha Culture. Living and Learning the Alpha Culture.

Skeo Solutions decided to incorporate Professional BaFa’ BaFa’ into the workshop and had received some encouragement from their EPA contact who remembered BaFa’ BaFa’ from her Peace Corps training some years ago. Living and Learning the Beta Culture. Living and Learning the Beta Culture.

The Approach:

Skeo Solutions Building Cultural Competence (BCC) training approach is very different from traditional USA “diversity” training. You can get a snapshot of it here:  http://www.skeo.com/projects/building_cultural_competence_training.

According to the lead facilitator for this session,  Michael Lythcott, “The design is kind of an amalgam of materials I helped develop for Peace Corps Volunteers and corporate executive training’s I helped design while I was at MS&B International working to prepare US executives (and their non-matrixed spouses) for long-term overseas assignments.” Discussion and Analysis of BaFa' BaFa' Experience. Discussion and Analysis of BaFa’ BaFa’ Experience.

Skeo Solutions decided to integrate BaFa’ BaFa’ at the beginning of this full day training opportunity. According to Lythcott, “people […]

Inventory of Hunches

by Hall T. Sprague

Following are some guesses about the educational value of simulations. None of them is proved, but they are more than just idle hunches, since they were formulated by instructors and students with extensive experience in their use. These may help you to decide how you will use the technique and what the outcomes might be. […]

1. Maybe simulations are “motivators.” Their main payoff may be that they generate enthusiasm for or commitment to: (a) learning in general, (b) social studies or some other subject area, (c) a specific discipline like history, (d) a specific course, (e) a specific teacher.

2. Maybe a simulation experience leads students to more sophisticated and relevant inquiry. That is, perhaps the important thing is what happens after the simulation is over, when students ask about the “model” which determined some of the elements of the simulation, about real world analogues to events and factors in the simulation, about processes like communication, about ways of dealing with stress and tension. Maybe participation leads naturally into a critique and analysis of the simulation by the students, and maybe this can lead easily into a model building experience. And maybe the greatest learning occurs when students build their own simulations.

3. Maybe simulations give participants a more integrated view of some of the ways of people. Maybe they see the interconnectedness of political, social, interpersonal, cultural, economic, historical, etc., factors. Maybe simulations help people understand the idea of a “social system.” Maybe the simulation experience helps them integrate ideas and information they already have.

4. Maybe participants in simulations learn skills, decision-making, resource allocation, communication, persuasion, influence-resisting. Or maybe they learn how important those processes are. Maybe they learn […]

By | 2016-11-23T05:11:23+00:00 October 16th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: |0 Comments

Ten ‘Mistakes’ Commonly Made by Persons Designing Educational Simulations and Games

By R. Garry Shirts

If someone were to ask me to identify the mistakes most often made by game designers, including myself, I would, after assuring myself that the questioner understands that game design is a very personal activity and that there are no right answers, reply in the following dogmatic manner: […]

1. Taking a Linear Approach to Game Design.

Most articles and books on simulation design suggest that one should follow a logical sequence of development: first define your objectives, then identify the actors and so on. Such prescriptions are accurate post-facto descriptions of what emerges from the game design process but are not, for the most part, accurate descriptions of that process. I suppose that one can design simulations in this manner, but such an approach defines the important parameters of the game before one starts and precludes an imaginative solution.

The designing process, in my experience, is not sequential at all—new idea “F” requires an adjustment or rethinking of ideas “A” “B” “C” and “D”. And such adjustments in turn may suggest changes in idea “F”. One moves back and forth among the ideas and parts of the game much as the performer who keeps a dozen or so plates of china spinning simultaneously on tall slender polls.

2. Trying to Work with Non-Simpatico Personalities.

It isn’t always possible to choose one’s game designing mates, but if given a choice, they should be selected carefully. Especially for the beginning stages when ideas are being generated. One negative person can stifle the creativity of thousands. Many different skills are required to develop educational simulations. The person who may be very creative at thinking up alternatives may not be able to write, follow the game […]

By | 2016-11-23T05:11:30+00:00 October 15th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , |0 Comments

Philosophy of Science, What Is a Game?

By BERNARD SUITS, University of Waterloo

By means of a critical examination of a number of theses as to the nature of game-playing, the following definition is advanced: To play a game is to engage in activity directed toward bringing about a specific state of affairs, using only means permitted by specific rules where the means permitted by the rules are more limited in scope than they would be in the absence of the rules, and where the sole reason for accepting such limitations is to make possible such activity.

Prompted by the current interest of social and behavioral scientists in games and encouraged by the modest belief that it is not demonstrably impossible for philosophers to say something of interest to scientists, I propose to formulate a definition of game playing. […]

1. Game-Playing as the Selection of Inefficient Means. Mindful of the ancient canon that the quest for knowledge obliges us to proceed from what is knowable to us to what is knowable in itself, I shall begin with the commonplace that playing games is different from working. Games, therefore, might be expected to be what work, in some salient respect, is not. Let me now baldly characterize work as “technical activity,” by which I mean activity in which an agent (as rational worker) seeks to employ the most efficient available means for reaching a desired goal. Since games, too, evidently have goals, and since means are evidently employed for their attainment, the possibility suggests itself that games differ from technical activities in that the means employed in games are not the most efficient. Let us say, then, that games are goal-directed activities in which inefficient means are intentionally (or rationally) chosen. […]

By | 2016-11-23T05:11:46+00:00 October 14th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , |0 Comments

Why I Hate Reality TV

By Garry Shirts
January 2005

I am talking specifically about Survivor and The Weakest Link. I haven’t watched any other reality TV shows but I assume they follow a similar format. Both of these programs are zero sum contests. If one person wins another person loses. Most sports are zero sum games. I enjoy watching sports, betting on sports and participating in sports, so it’s not the fact that these are zero sum contests that bother me. […]

In the Survivor show, teams compete against other teams and team members also compete against each other. I don’t mind teams competing against other teams, that’s a reflection of the real world. Pepsi competes against Coca Cola, Toyota against General Motors, etc. But the assumption that teams are made up of people who are competing against every other member of the team galls me.

There are such teams but, as in these reality shows, they are highly dysfunctional. The arguments, the sabotage, the conspiracies, the secret alliances, the third party communications that characterize the interaction on these teams make interesting viewing, but I’m concerned that people will start to believe that this is the only model for a team. Believing and acting as though every other team member is your potential enemy greatly reduces the team’s effectiveness and suboptimizes any system for which the team is responsible It also creates pain and suffering for everyone but the winner and even the winner often comes out a loser because of the damage done to his or her reputation and to his or her feelings of self worth.

In our Power of Leadership simulation, participants assume it is a zero sum game and generally base their decisions and behavior […]

By | 2016-11-23T05:11:51+00:00 October 12th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , |0 Comments

Ten Secrets of Successful Simulations

By R. Garry Shirts

An experiential simulation can be a wonderful training method. But it’s easy to create a one that is not as effective as it could be. Here are some suggestions for improving your chances of being successful.

One of the most satisfying experiences in training or education, no matter what the subject, is the so-called “Aha!” moment, that instant when sudden, spontaneous insight cuts through the tangle of loose ends in a learner’s mind to reveal a memorable truth. […]

Having spent nearly 40 years designing experiential simulations, I believe simulations are the most likely teaching method to create those “Aha!” moments. In a simulation called StarPower, the moment occurs when trainees, who might be police officers or corporate managers, unexpectedly realize that the only way to keep power over others is not to use it. In BaFa’ BaFa’, the moment comes when trainees suddenly grasp the idea that good intentions can actually worsen cultural misunderstandings. In a team-building simulation called Pumping the Colors, it happens when trainees abruptly comprehend that the rules a team operates under are actually the team’s responsibility.

When combined with other unique strengths of simulations-their ability to simplify systems, to demonstrate other people’s perspectives, to develop “battlefront” skills in safety, and to solve problems from the inside out – these eye-opening moments can endow trainees with a vivid, often deeply personal understanding of even the most abstract training concepts.

Simulations, however, are widely misunderstood. The most experienced trainers, called upon to design a simulation, often create a workaday version of the board game “Monopoly.” These are sometimes successful as play, but rarely effective as training.

Here are 10 secrets for creating successful training simulations. They represent lessons learned from […]

By | 2016-11-23T05:11:54+00:00 October 12th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Creating a New School Culture

By R. Garry. Shirts, Ph.D.

For the past 40 plus years, I’ve been designing simulations to help people learn how to work together productively, live together in harmony and resolve conflicts peacefully. I’ve designed simulations and other experiential learning activities for corporations, schools, government agencies, and churches.

Each simulation is like a mini-laboratory of human behavior. In this “laboratory” one sees the way people compete, allocate resources, respond under pressure and most important, how they relate to one another under different conditions. So if we assume there is some carryover from simulations to the real world, then what we learn from designing simulations ought to give us some insights and help in designing healthy, real-world organizations.

Today, my goal is to give you some suggestions for creating a new school culture in which staff members, teachers and students feel safe, feel valued and have the opportunity to be as productive and creative as each person wants to be. […]

I should point out that these criteria are based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which are as follows:

maslow's hierarchy of needs

His great insight was that one can’t address a higher need if the lower need is not satisfied. (Thanks to Wikipedia for the graphic.)

I also believe that it holds for communication as well. If one tries to talk to a student about achievement when he or she is worried about his or her safety, it’s going to be hard to communicate effectively with that student until the safety need is met. At least, it is important that one acknowledges one’s need for safety or any unmet need before moving up the needs ladder. But that is another […]

By | 2016-11-23T05:12:02+00:00 October 11th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , , , |0 Comments