He has been the lead designer for several ground-breaking educational simulations, including SimuLearn's Virtual Leader, which won best online training product of the year in 2004 by Training Media Review and the American Society of Training and Development's T+D Magazine - the first game-like product to win. He currently creates about three new simulations a year for corporate, academic, and non-profit organizations.
His published research, beginning in 1999, outlined the failure of formal education approaches to teach leadership, innovation, and other strategic skills, and then advocated interactive experiences borrowing techniques from current computer games as media to fill these gaps. He argues that computer games represent new, "post-linear" models for capturing and representing content, but that new computer game genres will have to be created, optimized for learning as well as entertainment. His research and simulation design work, which he conducted outside of the influence and prescription of academic and grant-giving institutions, resulted in a series of articles, speeches, and 5 books.
Aldrich's fifth book was Unschooling Rules in 2011. The premise of this book was that current education models have been sub optimized around a series of assumptions (classrooms, books, broad curricula, transcripts) that will repel significant improvement while in place. He advocates that education researchers and change agents look to home schoolers and unschoolers as environments of and for innovation.
Education and Work Experiences
Clark Aldrich, born Clark Wezniak, grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, and graduated from Fenn School and Lawrence Academy. He spent eight summers at the Chewonki Foundation, including four as a counselor, under the mentorship of Director Tim Ellis. He received his Bachelor Degree in Cognitive Science from Brown University. Aldrich worked at Xerox, initially as the speech writer for Executive Vice President Wayland Hicks. While at Xerox, Aldrich became the Governor’s appointee to the Joint Committee on Educational Technology (where he served from 1996-2000). Aldrich then moved to Gartner, where he launched their e-learning coverage, and began his formal writing and analysis about education. He was recognized by Training Magazine as a "Visionary of the Industry" and by Fortune Magazine as an "Industry Guru" in 2000, and by the American Society of Training and Development as a member of "Training's New Guard" in 2001. He left Gartner to begin hands-on work in designing and building simulations himself, where he also increased his external writing about the industry through books, columns, and articles. To find best practices, Aldrich works with military, academic, corporate, government, and non-profit organizations. His simulations have also earned numerous industry awards. including "Best Product of the Year" in 2004 by Training Media Review. In 2004, CNN profiled him as a "maverick." His 2009 book The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games was awarded one of the best training products of the year by Training Media Review.
- Aldrich, Clark (2004). Simulations and the Future of Learning. San Diego: Pfeiffer. ISBN 978-0-7879-6962-2.
- Aldrich, Clark (2005). Learning by Doing. San Diego: Pfeiffer. ISBN 978-0-7879-7735-1.
- Gibson, David V.; Aldrich, Clark; Prensky, Marc (2006). Games And Simulations in Online Learning: Research and Development Frameworks. IGI Global. ISBN 1-59904-304-1.
- Aldrich, Clark (2009). The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games. San Diego: Pfeiffer. ISBN 978-0-470-46273-7.
- Aldrich, Clark (2009). Learning Online with Games, Simulations, and Virtual Worlds: Strategies for Online Instruction. San Diego: Pfeiffer. ISBN 978-0-470-43834-3.
- Aldrich, Clark (2011). Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education. Austin: Greenleaf. ISBN 978-1-60832-116-2.
- US Patent 7401295
- "If I had six hours to learn anything, I would spend four of it practicing."
- “I made a perfect simulation about growing a company. The only problem is that it takes twenty-five years to play.”
- “I would rather be specific and wrong than vague and right.”
- "An inexperienced learner is thrown by frustration, but a good learner uses it."
- "What is taught is restricted by what can be taught."
- "Breaking down the artificial barriers between what we learn and what we do, between business and academics, and between understanding history and controlling our future, simulation development will be a defining 21st century industry."
- "Rather than using game genres, like first person shooter or real time strategy, there needs to be fifteen or twenty new simulation genres created, presumably open source, each of which focuses on one subject area, such as leadership, innovation, and project management."
- "The simulation interface is part of the content, not just a conduit to the content."
- "We are at a time in the history of education when everything can change. Our minds can be as well developed and nurtured as our bodies… the work of a few people will echo through the ages, changing the very wealth of nations."
- Aldrich Repository of Simulations and Serious Games
- Aldrich Simulation Blog
- Aldrich Unschooling Rules Blog
- Leigh, Pam (2001). "Training's New Guard 2001: Clark Aldrich". Training Development (American Society for Training & Development) 54 (5): 34.
- Allison Rossett (2002). The ASTD E-Learning Handbook. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 0-07-138796-X.
- C-Net "Think you can run Enron? Play the game" July 10, 2002
- Audio recorded presentation from Accelerating Change 2004 where Clark Aldrich nicely describes his experiences developing and implementing Virtual Leader and also describes larger trends in corporate learning