Modelling, simulations and virtual environments

A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is a software system designed to support teaching and learning in an educational setting, as distinct from a Managed Learning Environment (MLE) where the focus is on management. VLEs synthesise the functionality of computer-mediated communications software (e-mail, bulletin boards, newsgroups etc) and on-line methods of delivering course materials (e.g. the WWW). Most of these systems are intended not simply to reproduce the classroom environment -‘on-line’, but to use the technology to provide learners with new tools to facilitate their learning. They aim to accommodate a wider range of learning styles and goals, to encourage collaborative and resource-based learning and to allow greater sharing and re-use of resources. While originally created for distance education, VLEs are now most often used to supplement traditional face to face classroom activities. This is commonly known as Blended Learning.

A computer simulation, a computer model or a computational model is a computer program, or network of computers, that attempts to simulate an abstract model of a particular system. Computer simulations vary from computer programs that run a few minutes, to network-based groups of computers running for hours, to ongoing simulations that run for days. The scale of events being simulated by computer simulations has far exceeded anything possible (or perhaps even imaginable) using the traditional paper-and-pencil mathematical modeling. Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) is a standard file format for representing 3-dimensional (3D) interactive vector graphics, designed particularly with the World Wide Web in mind.


What is a Virtual Learning Environment or VLE?

Examples of VLE's

  • Virtual Singapura (VS)
    This project aims to conduct research into how multi-user virtual environments (MUVE) may be used to engage and motivate students at the lower secondary level in Singapore as they learn important scientific knowledge and skills. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)

What is simulation modelling?

  • What is Simulation?
    Provides an explanation of what a computer simulation is. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)
  • Systems Simulation: The Shortest Route to Applications
    This site features information about discrete event system modeling and simulation and includes discussions on descriptive simulation modeling, programming commands, techniques for sensitivity estimation, optimization and goal-seeking by simulation. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)
  • Computer modelling
    An article discussing the “main hazards” or limitations of computer modelling. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)

Example of simulation modelling

  • Climate Change Prediction Program
    This site features an example of climate change modelling. Emerging technologies in are linked to the development of computationally efficient and numerically accurate climate prediction models. The site provides links to models from other parts of the world. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)

Modelling tools that are free to download (open source)

  • A Collection of Modelling and Simulation Resources on the Internet
    This site offers a review of simulation software with links to various simulation tools. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)
  • NetLogo
    NetLogo offers a cross-platform multi-agent programmable modelling environment which is under continuous development. This site has links to a free down-loadable programme, demonstrations, a user manual and other resources. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)
  • Blender
    This site provides access to a free open source 3D content creation suite, compatible with all major operating systems, that allows users to model, shade, render, animate and create interactive 3D. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)
  • Open CASCADE Technology, 3D modeling & numerical simulation
    This site provides access to open source software development platforms which includes components for 3D surface and solid modeling, visualization, data exchange and rapid application development. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)
  • Open Source Software Engineering Tools
    This site welcomes new contributors to identify a project they would like to develop or join, then provides access to the “widely-used” licence they require after registering as a new user. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)