• Conference Proceeding

User interface lessons learned from distributed simulations


Evens, N., Whiteford, B., Frank, G., & Hubal, R. (2006). User interface lessons learned from distributed simulations. In Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation & Education Conference (I/IT SEC). Paper No. 2844,.


The Army is pursuing distance learning strategies to meet Soldiers’ lifelong learning needs. One cost-effective approach to providing Soldiers with learning by doing is to develop and distribute simulation training systems. The U.S. Army Signal Center & FT Gordon is leading the implementation of this approach through a series of distributed simulations accessible via its University of Information Technology (UIT) portal.

This paper reports on the many user interface lessons learned from development of a series of distributed simulation systems, mostly but not solely for the Signal Center, developed over the past six years, as well as lessons al-ready learned from several simulation systems currently being developed. These systems are designed to meet contractual requirements that they be downloadable and usable by Soldiers anywhere in the world with an AKO connection within 15 minutes, but able to run in standalone mode.

The paper describes a host of issues dealing with visualization and interactivity, context and usability, navigation and tool use, and policy and technology. The lessons learned include observations, solutions, and suggestions to these issues. The paper provides guidelines for future simulation systems building on a model that considers task affordances and demands, user characteristics, and the nature of the domain.