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How to Help your Employees, Administrators, and Students Understand What Unites Them - and What Makes Them Unique

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Salalah College of Technology

Salalah, Oman



In one classic simulation named Barnga (1990), which focuses on cultural clashes that develop quickly amongst peoples of all cultures, participants are asked to experience the shock of realizing that despite their good intentions and despite the many similarities among them, people interpret things differently from one another in profound ways, especially people from differing cultures. Participants have observed and learnt through simulations, such as Barnga, that they both can-and-must understand, as well as reconcile--these differences if they want to function effectively in a cross-cultural groups. (Pittenger & Heimann 1998;  Suematsu, Takadama, Shimohara, Katai & Arai 2003/2004,   Thiagarajan & Thiagarajan 2006).

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Recently, a variety of modeling agents, including agent-based models (Axelrod, 1997; Fortino,  Garro, Russo, 2005; Hughes, Clegg, Robinson,  & Crowder, 2012), have been combined with classic game-simulations in order to studying a variety of topics, such as in studying the impact of publication venues by researchers in the computer-science domain or how behaviors can be taught and learned among newcomers in any new global work community, i.e., as performed regularly in the BARNGA simulation. 

The purpose of this theoretical and educational-change-oriented paper is (a) to encourage the wider usage of simulations, such as Barnga, in our schools and in educational & administrative training environments, (b) understand the cross-curricular nature of such simulations and the requisite learning made possible through debriefing and repeated participation in such activities, and (c) to provide a framework for evaluating which sorts of simulation and group-work activities & learning projects work best in the Middle Eastern context.  Finally, this paper also provides an overview (and checklists) of simulation employment and utilization intended for interested educators. This focus on procedure is very pertinent in the Omani context because new procedures for course delivery and for certificates and diplomas are strongly advised by the Omani Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA, 2009a,b).


A major problem with the educational delivery of Oman, a country that has only even had its first university since 1986, has been that a lot of frameworks for education were simply imported from either neighbouring lands or from the West. Some of these self-imposed structures were beneficial in early stages of development of Oman, but they no longer serve Omanis well, especially in today's changing job market (Stoda, 2012). Many educators today particularly lament in the universities of the country the negative washback that the summative- or high-stakes exams have had on learning, especially in the area of students' failures to acquire important lifelong social- and work-related skills. The major focus of too many students and instructors throughout the land (LeRoux 2011; Pocaro & Musawi, 2012) have been on numbers or marks--not on deepening of practice and meaningful skills acquisition outside the traditional classroom design imported to Oman since the 1970s.

LeRoux, Pocaro/Musawi, and various Omani Ministries, such as the ministry that oversee the Omani Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA, 2009a, b) have advocated that continuous assessments be implemented to a much wider extent than has been the practice over the past quarter of century. The four major reasons for this shift have been outlined by LeRoux as:

(1) Continuous assessments are in line with current international trends in assessment theory.

(2) Sociologically-speaking continuous assessments, such as conducted in simulations and on projects, are more sociologically appropriate in Oman, which has historically known an apprenticeship system as the major means of skill acquisition.

(3) Regular or continuous assessments are also statistically more reliable than the Omani high stakes or summative evaluations have been.

(4) Students need to acquire more advanced and less-passive study skills in order to do well academically and in whatever field of work they desire to be involved in.

This paper advocates particularly that the employment of more simulations be created and used by the educational institutions, the Ministry of Manpower, and in training programs of all-sorts across the land. [1]

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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Metaphor of the woven blanket, that keeps everybod... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013 at 1:19:54 AM
Photography, Expanded: Rethinking Engagement and I... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013 at 5:03:42 AM
 Mr. Stoda,  I finally learned the defin... by Ad Du on Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013 at 10:15:27 AM
 Thus, ladies and gentlemen, here is a very ... by Ad Du on Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013 at 10:19:19 AM
The ancient greek philosopher noted that in the ri... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013 at 2:16:20 AM
However, no one can talk about a discrete river, b... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013 at 2:17:59 AM
It is not possible to do anything "continually". T... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013 at 12:18:27 PM
definition of high stakes exam for me is any exam... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Thursday, Apr 25, 2013 at 12:45:46 AM
In short, I have concrete examples of societies wh... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Thursday, Apr 25, 2013 at 12:47:18 AM
I was thinking at the grave consequences on school... by Ad Du on Thursday, Apr 25, 2013 at 2:12:43 PM
nope high stakes means only that someone in societ... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 8:23:20 AM
Sir,  Is it bad to have entrance/exit exams ?... by Ad Du on Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 7:56:59 PM
continuous assessment is an attempt at dichotomy--... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013 at 2:13:07 AM
click here... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013 at 2:18:41 AM
If only you could tell them that "louder" ... It's... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013 at 11:59:49 AM
Are you in USA or elsewhere? I am in M.E. (You ca... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Thursday, Apr 25, 2013 at 1:18:57 AM
... particularly in certain corners of the planet!... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013 at 12:25:51 PM
Most people in Middle East and India have not hear... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Thursday, Apr 25, 2013 at 1:10:40 AM
But I'm still in the dark on matters of content le... by Ad Du on Thursday, Apr 25, 2013 at 2:17:41 PM
One engineer from India said that he appreciated h... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 4:01:00 AM by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Thursday, Apr 25, 2013 at 12:48:34 AM
FairTest finds that nearly 850 four-year colleges ... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Thursday, Apr 25, 2013 at 12:55:05 AM