Last week I wrote about five of the ten best practices for using our simulations. This week, I’m going to cover the next five!
Over a thousand instructors every year use our simulations and each has a unique way they’ve implemented the sim into their class. Most follow a similar basic structure and flow, but what we’ve found is that there are principles they employ to make the experience the most effective.
This week and next, I’d like to offer to you a list of Best Practices for Using Our Simulations to start the conversation. That is, we hope you’ll talk to you about this to see how they might work best for you.
It’s challenging to use a sim in your class, particularly if you’re a new instructor. It’s one of the many reasons that the largest department at our company is Customer Support. We’re committed to helping you and your students get the most out of the experience. For Instructors, this means virtual walkthroughs with our Customer Relationship Manager, phone and email support. For Students we offer quick response email support, as well as plenty of materials to guide them through. The point is, you don’t have to be an expert in the simulation. We want you to know them sim well enough to use it as a resource, an experience for your students. Technical questions about logging in, basic sim operation, etc. is something we’ll take care of for you.
Each of our simulations comes with Comparative Results on sim performance. Within that is the ability for you to weight certain results in order to create an aggregate score of performance. We can certainly recommend some common measures, but this is your opportunity to assess the students based on your objectives of the class. For example, your weighted score could be a combination of Net Cumulative Income (30%), Customer Satisfaction (20%), ROI (20%), and Brand Awareness (30%)—all of those percentages must equal 100%. From that you will get a score that provides a snapshot on overall company performance. It’s a quick measure to gauge the effectiveness of their decisions! Beyond that, you can drill down into specific results to find out more. But this helps you get a good indication overall on how they’re doing.
We have simulations that range for classes in Intro to Business all the way up to MBA level Strategy. Each of these sims requires some measure of time to get familiar with the sim. So it’s important to inquire with our Support Staff how much time you should allot your students to get up to speed. Primarily you will want them to 1. Read the case, 2. Do a practice session of the sim, and 3. Read the accompanying material in Student Manual. This can range from 2 hours to 6+ hours depending upon the sim. It is very important to set the expectation in your syllabus that the students must take the time to explore these materials.
As I mentioned in the previous post, our sims come with an area called Decision Rationale where they can record their thinking behind their decisions. This is vital! The sim experience is most valuable when it’s reflective, where students learn from their decisions. You want to encourage them to analyze their position vis a vis their decisions. Setting the expectations that they need to explain their decisions will motivate them to keep these notes. Some instructors will hold several review meetings with their teams (usually via Zoom) to discuss their decisions. Your role in this is to ask questions, see what they understand and don’t understand about the implications of their decisions. This will help them learn more from their experience.
A simulation should be a reflective experience. How your students’ teams perform is less important overall than how much they understand why they performed the way they did. For that reason, we try to encourage instructors to aim the students towards the Final Report. They should be keeping track of their decisions and reasoning, and be prepared to submit to you in final report form. Some instructors set this up formally, asking the teams to do an in-class presentation. For larger classes where that’s not practical, many instructors ask for it in written form (from the team). In the end, their experience is a story, and the better that they understand the story, the more they will take from the experience.