Business Schools are considered to be the most respected institutions when it comes to learning and understanding the intricate mechanism and working of a business organisation. The industry expects graduates from business schools to know a wide array of theories and concepts, and their application. And, thanks to the advancement in technology, a vast variety of educational tools are available to make learning even more impactful!
Today, a management school can collaborate with the best of the best, from across the globe to deliver a specialised webinar, deploy a learning management system that has a library of self paced courses, or even make online business simulations a part of the curriculum.
Of all the above mentioned tools, business simulations are by far the most hands on and experiential. And, there’s no denying the difference that practical application makes when it comes to impactful training and education.
Online Business Simulations in Higher Education
Higher education institutes are increasingly making use of persuasive digital games to provide students the opportunity to practice the various concepts learnt across courses like finance, sales, and even marketing. There’s an increased focus on building managerial and leadership capabilities through online business simulations.
Online business simulations serve as an active learning tool that simulates an environment very close to a business situation, enables real time decision making, and hence, provides a platform to practice application of concepts in a risk free environment. The participants remain active in behaviour and in cognition throughout the experience.
Imagine you’re a management graduate and you’ve just completed learning about design thinking as a concept. You then solve a case study to understand the different steps involved in following this new approach. This helps you feel confident in understanding the concept, completely. And that’s all well and good, as far your upcoming exams are concerned. However, in a real world situation, there would be unpredictable reactions and responses to the theoretical steps that you take. The customer’s response, the unpredictability of the market – irrespective of the steps that you have taken, will all come together to impact the outcome of your decisions.
However, if you are allowed to practice this in a simulated environment, with real life updates and challenges – you can hone your skills without risking an actual job position. The simulation plays out in the following manner – You will be given a pre-set objective, let’s say that of increasing the customer satisfaction score. You will be provided all the required information regarding the target buyers. You may even interview them to understand their perspective. You can then get the results of this interview and formulate possible solutions. Here, you have the option to prototype and see how the simulated market responds to the changes you make. You then get to conduct feasibility and prototyping to finally implement the best course of action, basis the results.
That’s what a business simulation is – Risk free, Responsive, and Dynamic!
Here are a few more arguments in the favour of simulations as a great learning tool :
Freedom To Make Mistakes
According to Professor Steve Blank at Stanford University,
“Accepting failures and learning from them is one of the things that made Silicon Valley successful.”
It is a skill that students should be equipped with, before they set out on their professional journey. Business simulations offer students the freedom to make mistakes. Their interactive storylines encourage students to try out varied approaches and employ different strategies to to address the given challenges, in a risk free environment. This not only encourages them to try bold and creative strategies but also, gives them the irreplaceable chance to learn from what works and what does not!
Fruits Of The Labour Of Research
Business Simulations are based on real research findings and theoretical models to navigate through actual business scenarios. For instance, a business simulation on effective leadership is often based on situational leadership construct. Students can apply strategies based on different leadership styles in a team, and see real time impact of the actions they take!
Business simulations do not simply rely only on intellectual knowledge of the student. Like in a real life situation, simulations also invoke emotions like frustration, anxiety, achievement, among others. They also provide them with the opportunity to learn the importance of values like team work and effective leadership. Thus, real time application of management tools, team dynamics, leadership behaviours mixed with human emotions makes the learning experience extremely holistic.
Use Of Game Psychology
Most simulations are designed in a way that appeals to the psychology of the students. Similar to any game, business games are a concoction of challenges and rewards. Furthermore, in-game rewards like financial indicators, progress on objectives, competitor results, and leader boards ensures active participation and engagement (and *significantly more as compared to webinars or self paced courses)
When it’s all been said and done, there is no denying the fact that webinars and self-paced courses are important learning tools. The understanding of concepts remains fundamental to learning and both webinars and self paced courses can be effective in delivering academic knowledge. Online business simulations are simply the logical next step. They can help enable practical application of the said theories, in a risk free environment. This will help prepare students for the real world challenges with enhanced efficiency.
Simulations form a critical bridge between academia and the business world –
Urs Peyer, Dean of Degree Programmes at INSEAD”
Urs Peyer, Dean of Degree Programmes at INSEAD”