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.
A simulation allows students to take part in a business and make decisions to affect the outcome. Students tend to derive the most benefit from the simulation when it is framed not as just another classroom assignment or group project but rather a valuable opportunity to fully experience the real-world challenges of running a business without the real-world risks. Our simulations put the student into a specific role and function within a business, be it as Manager, Marketing Department, Management Team, etc. You want the students to get invested into the simulation so they take their decisions seriously. The way you frame the simulation to the students matters. So, in particular at the beginning, encourage your students to read the case fully, analyze their situation, and take it on as if it was their money and their career. Our simulations last the whole semester so they have a lot of time for reflection. Encourage your students to use that time to take ownership of the experience.
The course alignments include guidance on which simulation decision categories, assignments, and special decisions (if available) connect to a range of key course components and objectives. Suggestions of opportunities for assessment/grading are also provided. We encourage you to take advantage of these recommendations to extract the most value from the simulation for you and your students!” Tie in the experience of the simulation into your lectures. For example, if you’re lecturing about price, ask the students how they determined their price for their product in the simulation. The more you ground the experience in the simulation, the deeper the learning.
As I mentioned in #2, the more you tie the simulation to your objectives and the course material, the better. Think of the simulation as the practical application of the principles they’re learning in your class through lectures and reading. Some of our professors plan out specific lectures during certain decision periods, knowing that some key decisions are coming (like line extensions, new product roll outs, etc.). Also, make use of our Teaching Notes for our mini-cases (Incidents, Special Decisions) which are located in the Instructor’s Manual. We’ve specifically laid those out to encourage integration of the sim into the discussion.
One thing unique about business education is that the student must learn to work with others. It is a very important skill to develop. Fact is, students when they graduate will almost always be working on some sort of team in the business careers. For each decision period, students have to come to consensus about their decisions—and doing so can be difficult. Try to identify problematic teams before they implode, encourage them to work from a plan or a strategy rather than just best guesses. Encourage discussion and ask them to document their discussion. In our simulation we have a section called “Decision Rationale” and this is an excellent place to record those discussions. You’re looking to see how they resolve conflict by getting them to explain their process for coming to agreement. Students can keep track of those discussions in the Decision Rationale.
This is vital—in order for you to best understand the simulation, you have to play it yourself. Logistically this might be difficult for you to arrange, but please reach out to us and we’ll gladly help you with this! Consider playing with your colleagues (ask your Customer Relationship Manager to set up a game for you!). Some of our sims allow you to play on your own—take advantage of this opportunity! Some of our instructors will play along with the students, and we’re glad for you to do so! This creates an interesting dynamic and if it’s right for your class (you be the judge), we highly recommend it.