Software simulations: Six considerations to ensure success

Software simulations: Six considerations to ensure success

Software simulations are a fantastic way of teaching learners how to use tools without the fear or risk of failure, that may come with using the software in ‘real life’. However, there are many considerations you need to make when getting started with software simulations, here’s a few we think you should bear in mind.

1. Who are your learners? How will they access the course?

Understanding your learners is key to getting your software simulation right. Different cohorts of learners will absorb information in different ways. Are your learners more likely to use short video tutorials outside the formal training environment? If so, a short video may be sufficient. Or, will they dedicate time in their day to learning? Then a step-by-step software simulation may be a better choice.

2. How complex is your software to a layperson?

You probably know the software better than anyone. But how complex is the software to someone seeing it for the first time? If your software is mind-boggling to newbies, a short series of software simulations may be best. This allows you to focus on key areas, and specific tasks which need to be carried out. Or, if your software is intuitive and easy-to-use, a single software simulation may be better; with questions interspersed through for knowledge checks.

3. What’s the most important piece of information?

Most software enables users to complete a variety of tasks. Using Articulate Storyline as an example; you can create simple click next courses, or highly complex branched scenarios. When your learner first opens Storyline, do you want them to know how to create a branched scenario straight away? If so, then you will need to ensure your simulation covers triggers, slides and layers. But, if you just want them to get to know the basics, you may just want them to know how to add a slide, and edit a button.

Understanding the objectives of your software simulation will ensure you focus on teaching the most important bit of information first.

4. What device will your learners use?

Your learners are likely to use a range of devices to access your simulation. To ensure your simulation is clear – you should determine the average screen resolution used throughout your cohort. Then, set your Story size to this target screen resolution. If you have specific dimensions, an aspect ratio calculator may help; for example, if you know that you need a 4:3 aspect ratio, and that your width is 1920px, the calculator will calculate the height for you.

When you’re ready to record, set your recording area to these same dimensions. It’s important to note, you may need to adjust your screen resolution down for this – when you do, it may look a little fuzzy when recording your screen capture, but once it’s captured and played back, it will be crisp and clear.

5. What do you want your learners to see?

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember to hide any unwanted applications before you start your screen recording. Close instant messengers and email tabs. Hide toolbars, bookmarks and desktop pictures. Ensure your screen is desirably clear before clicking record.

6. Now, what software are you going to use?

You may have decided this already, but choosing your software is one of the most important considerations you need to make when it comes to creating software simulations. In the Articulate 360 suite alone, you have three options: Peek 360, Replay 360 and Storyline 360 itself. Replay 360 gives you more flexibility in terms of ‘slicing and dicing’ your video, compared to recording in Storyline 360 or Peek 360. Plus, it also provides the option for simultaneous ‘talking head’ style webcam-based recording. However, the inbuilt screen recorder in Storyline 360 is great for ad-hoc recording; whilst Peek 360 is always in your systems tray for easy access.


So, there you have it, the key considerations I think you should take when creating software simulations.

If you’re interested in learning how to create interactive software simulations in Articulate Storyline 360, why not join our upcoming webinar on 7th November 2019? You can register for it here.