Simulation activities vary on:
  • whether they’re face to face (like meetings) or in the background (like a deadline to turn something in)
  • who is involved (everyone or only certain groups or roles)
  • whether they have an outcome (like a vote) or whether they build toward activities that have outcomes (like a strategy session or pre-vote meeting)
  • whether they are dependent on a previous decision or outcome in the simulation

Questions & Answers

What do you mean by activities?

A simulation is intended to capture the key steps or elements of a decision making process that you want participants to experience. Think about the activities as the discrete steps or elements of that process. Some examples of activities in different kinds of simulations include:

  • Legislative decision making: committee hearings, lobbying sessions, votes, press conferences
  • Crisis management: negotiations, hearings, press conferences, stakeholder meetings, strategy sessions
  • Legal or business negotiation: information gathering, negotiation sessions, mediation, resolution
  • Poverty simulation: family budgeting, connecting with community resources, debrief and reflection
  • Health care team decision making: case reviews, consultation with specialists and care partners, deliberation, root cause review

How do I choose activities?

Think about how the activities map into your learning objectives. If the point of the simulation is to give participants the opportunity to practice navigating a process, you want the activities to be as realistic as possible. If you want learners to develop soft skills, you want your activities to give them opportunities to communicate, form partnerships, learn to compromise, and so on.

Be deliberate about the purpose of each activity – each should either be a decision that’s being made or be an interim step that leads up to that decision. It might be helpful to work backwards: decide on the key decisions that need to get made, and then decide the steps participants will take to get there.

How many activities should I have?

The answer depends on the complexity of your simulation, how much time you have, and your number of participants. Remember, you may not be able to capture all the complexity of the real-world process that you’re simulating. The key is to focus on the most important elements that align with your learning objectives. A well-designed simulation with just a few activities can provide participants with a rich, informative, and complex role-playing experience.

How much detail should I include?

The more clearly activities are defined, the better able participants will be to engage effectively. Some activities will involve a single role or group; others will involve multiple roles or groups simultaneously. Think about the who, what, when, where, and why for each activity and each role or group.

How do I plan for activities that are dependent on each other?

If your simulation involves a sequence of multiple decisions, then what happens later depends on what happens earlier.

  • For example, in a legislative process simulation, if a committee votes yes, the bill goes to the floor.
  • If not, there’s no floor action and something else happens in the simulation.

This can get complicated very quickly. If you want to capture some of the interdependency between activities, we recommend drawing it out in tree form beforehand. Here’s a really simple example.

How do I keep track of all of my activities?

ViewPoint has a activity Calendar that allows you to easily keep track of all of the simulation activities. It is searchable by day and group, and allows you to designate dependencies so that participants can see what will happen after any possible decision. After you map out all of the activities and decisions – who does what and when – and the dependencies between the activities, you can easily enter all of that information into the Calendar.

Use the questions below to think through the details of your simulation. 

Mapping out your activities

What are the main decisions your participants need to make?

Event planning logistics

Where and when will various activities happen? What size and number of rooms do you need? Can the rooms handle the number of people and number of concurrent meetings?

What equipment or supplies will people need in each room and for each activity?
What kinds of spaces do people need to meet spontaneously or privately?