Business simulations are an excellent tool for educators to capture the attention of their students and improve their hands-on business skills. However, many still believe that business simulation games are more trouble than they are worth, and have a number of inherent problems associated with them.
Amongst these myths are the fear over instructor redundancy, the distraction of students by a "game", and the lack of consensus on how to measure learning through business simulators.
While it is good practice to be mindful of potential pitfalls when implementing a new technology into your course or training program, it is important not to let groundless fears and fairy tales cloud your judgment when making decisions about it.
Here are the top 5 myths about business games that we have encountered:
A common misconception about novel learning tools (especially if they are rather sophisticated and automated) is that they can essentially replace or reduce the need for an instructor, because the entire course is largely facilitated by the system itself, with learning materials readily available for download.
This couldn't be farther from the truth. Although modern business strategy games are indeed designed to make the facilitation process as seamless as possible, they are not fit to replace the knowledge and real life perspective given by the educator. In fact, true learning takes place at the convergence of the experience provided by the simulated environment, and the discussions initiated by the instructor around it.
Many business simulator games by nature lend themselves to creating healthy competition between the participant teams, in order to illustrate the realities of business life. The students in fact are expected to be motivated by the dynamics of team play, as it is a very representative aspect of how real life companies struggle to maintain a leading position against an ever intensifying competition.
When asked about the key takeaways of business simulations however, students never fail to mention the improvements to their teamwork and business decision-making skills.
Due to their vast variety and browser-based nature, educators today are able to choose from a number of business simulators to fit their course curriculum perfectly. Facilitation is largely automated by the simulation itself; Cesim business games for example don't require anything other than the course schedule to run, and results are calculated automatically after each deadline.
Whether you teach in a classroom, blended or completely online format, students only need internet access to be able to participate in the simulation.
Following from the previous point, the assumption is that simulation based courses can only be facilitated in a computer room. While these rooms are good to have, especially for the introductory lecture, the rest of the course can easily be run using the participants' own laptops or iPad's. All that is truly necessary is the possibility for the teams to collaborate, either face to face or online. If you have rooms with round tables and plenty of opportunity for the students to work together, you are well on your way for a great business simulation course experience.
This may be the hardest myth to dispel, because assessment methods and requirements greatly vary, however, there are a few excellent ways to test whether your students really understood what business games meant to teach them and the premise of the simulation itself.
Three examples include: (1) ask your students to create a learning log during the simulation rounds. This forces the students to structure their thinking and helps you to evaluate their train of thought. (2) Have your students make a final report or presentation that will demonstrate their intended strategies and what actually happened. (3) Utilize Cesim's readily made multiple-choice quizzes or create your own to assess the students’ comprehension.
Wonder how business simulation games complement theoretical knowledge?