Simulation education is currently flourishing in the United States and around the world. Simulation technology has improved, and its costs have dropped. When faced with demands for more accountability for quality education and increased enrollment, disciplines and specialties are embracing the idea of simulation as a valuable tool. Frequently, institutions develop simulation programs based on a narrow understanding of the technology and teaching potential of this tool. The purchase of simulation equipment often precedes the development of a sound program "vision" and plan. Only after understanding the tools and equipment can a meaningful plan be developed. This article introduces and clarifies the different types of simulation equipment, and attempts to make sense of the roles and limitations of these technologies. It is through this knowledge that educators and program directors can best develop programs that are educationally meaningful. Similarly, a good understanding of simulation technology and terminology will likely lead to more thoughtful and cost-effective purchases.
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