Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Modern Classroom & Smartsims

“K-12 education isn’t using technology effectively and isn’t investing nearly enough in IT infrastructures to enable next-generation learning”

That’s the conclusion of a new report, ‘Unleashing the Potential of Technology in Education’, which called for greater financial commitment to educational technology in our schools.¹ By not focusing more on boosting student outcomes with online technology, traditional educational practices may end up leaving a vast gap in the coming generations’ capabilities.

A 2011 XpertHR learning and development survey announced that using online computer training improves skills at considerably greater rate than traditional methods.² This makes online learning an indispensable educational tool.

The good news is that once students reach College/University, they are being given the opportunity to experience online technologies as business schools across the board have been increasing their use of online learning. The economic downturn is also increasing demand for online courses. As of April 2011, 60% of private sector colleges and universities reported that online education is critical to their long-term strategies.³ This can be attributed to online student enrollments continuing to be the most rapidly growing sector in higher education.

This transition to online learning has opened new teaching methods previously unavailable to Instructors. Experiential learning, like that of simulations, allows students to translate theory into practice. Simulations help students retain far more information than traditional teaching methodologies, as they become immersed in the experience of the concepts being taught, rather than only reading or hearing about them.

From an Instructor’s perspective, using a business simulation allows them to come alongside their students to direct their learning, rather than simply talking at their students. This also gives students a sense of ownership over what they learn, and the experience itself will remain in their memories long-term. In fact, we have past-students contact us on a regular basis to request our simulations be used in their new workplace, or even at the school they now teach at, as it was the highlight of their degree and something they now want their colleagues or students to experience.

Smartsims have a reputation for high quality simulations and world-class customer service; something we’ve developed over our 20 years of industry experience. Students are taught the fundamental concepts of business and strategy directly through business simulation. Students also learn important real-world skills such as working within a team, situational analysis, how to read real financial and market reports, and the formulation of strategy based on their findings. Our business simulations are extremely flexible and can be integrated into a wide variety of on-campus and online courses.

– Danny Master and Ian McPherson

[1] The Journal. (2011, August 9), Closing the Loop in Education Technology,

[2] Computeach, (2011, May 10), Computer Training: Learning Online ‘Rising’,

[3] The Examiner (2011, April 18), Economy Sparks Rising Demand for Online College Courses,

Music2Go Marketing Simulation at USMA – West Point

Katie Matthew is a Major in the United States Army and Course Instructor at The United States Military Academy at West Point. Katie uses our Music2Go Marketing Simulation in her Introductory Marketing Course. At a 2011 Society for Marketing Advances Annual Conference, Katie spoke about her integration of Music2Go Marketing into her course, and how this has added value by bringing Experiential Learning to her classroom.

Some of the key benefits of Music2Go that she mentioned included the following:

  • Encouraged more student engagement/involvement;
  • Produced better learning outcomes;
  • Students indicated they preferred this style of learning;
  • Better prepared students to make real-world decisions.

Katie fully embraced the Experiential Learning process by having Music2Go as the “Major Event” for her course. She notes that the “time tested and proven” nature of the Music2Go software, which included teaching resources and 24 hour support played a big part in adopting the Simulation. Another feature she mentions that is typical with Experiential Learning is the immediate feedback students receive on their decisions, which enables them to see what works and what doesn’t. Whether or not decisions are optimal, the results give students a clear and immediate insight into the linkages between functional decision areas – something not possible with traditional learning methods.

“It helped us apply what we learned in class; to see the how wrong or how right we were in making decisions. This experience can’t be replaced except by real life.”

From an educator’s point of view, Katie enjoys the flexibility that Music2Go gives her, with adjustable timelines that can change with course needs, and the ability to easily monitor student performance. She has adopted a “Consultant” role to students, giving teams the option of approaching her for guidance on certain decision areas, and is able to deduct a virtual “fee” from their Marketing Budget within the simulation. This further enhances the real-world feel that the Simulation brings to the classroom, while encouraging participation.

“I enjoyed it so much more because of the competitive aspect it offered. I also learned more because it is a nice change of pace to move away from the books and to see what we would be doing if we actually were in marketing as a profession.”

To be truly effective, Experiential Learning needs to incorporate the entire learning wheel – from goal setting, to experimenting and observing, to reviewing, and finally action planning. The complete process allows students to learn new skills, new attitudes and entirely new ways of thinking.

Credit: to Katie Matthew (USMA), Bill Madway (The Wharton School) and the Society for Marketing Advances.

Using Simulations for Seminars, Corporate Training and Team Building

Smartsims Business Simulations have been used within Corporate Training, Business Seminars and Team Building exercises globally for many years.

Today, close to 70% of corporations are using Business Simulations as part of their repertoire of training methodologies to educate their management and staff at all levels. One of the many reasons for this is that experiential learning programs have very high information retention rates amongst participants. A study in the Training and Development Journal, stated: ” People retain about 25% of what they hear, 45% of what they see and hear, and 70% of what they see, hear and do.

The following are just a few organisations that have taken their Corporate Training to the next level using our state of the art Business Simulations.

MAHLE Industries, have been using our MikesBikes-Advanced Strategic Management Simulation in recent years as part of their Management Development program. Ralf Roeske, Senior Director of Finance, chose the MikesBikes-Advanced Business Simulation as it tied in all of the functional areas of a business, and encouraged a better understanding of how these functions are important in the efficient running of a company as a whole. Through experiential learning, MikesBikes-Advanced provides participants with the unique opportunity to evaluate, plan, and implement strategy as they manage their own company.

MAHLE are the worldwide leader in automotive parts. They supply an extensive range of high quality components and systems to the best known manufacturers of internal combustion engines throughout the world. In North America, MAHLE has 22 locations with more than 5,500 employees.

Illovo Sugar have been using MikesBikes-Advanced for several years, alongside The University of Kwazulu Natal as part of their Leadership Development Program. Participants gain a broader understanding of strategy formulation and team dynamics , as well as polishing their skills in cross-functional management. Participants are required to present a report to Illovo Executives at the completion of the program, detailing their learning, experiences and team dynamics.

Illovo Sugar is a leading, global, low-cost sugar producer and a significant manufacturer of high-value downstream products. The group is Africa’s biggest sugar producer and has extensive agricultural and manufacturing operations in six African countries.

Queensland Rail have used MikesBikes-Advanced in their Emerging Leaders course since 2007 in association with Griffith University with great success. The program is designed to hone participants skills in Leadership for Business, and develop the foundations for understanding the cross-functional nature of modern business. The program begins with a 3 day Strategic Planning Seminar where the participants develop their skills in strategy formulation, while using MikesBikes-Advanced Single-Player. The participants then move on to the Multi-Player where they form Management Teams and compete against one another for the highest Shareholder Value.

With over six and a half thousand staff, six billion dollars in assets and eight thousand kilometres of track, Queensland Rail is a strong and powerful integrated customer and rail infrastructure business.

Repco New Zealand have recently integrated MikesBikes-Intro into their annual National Conference. The conference runs over two days, and MikesBikes-Intro was chosen to assist in training managers to understand the impact of decisions – good and bad – on businesses. MikesBikes-Intro allowed the 150 participants to fully participate in all aspects of running a business. Feedback concluded that the use of MikesBikes-Intro was an engaging and successful way of up-skilling managers in the company.

With sales in excess of $900 million and employing over 4,000 staff across New Zealand and Australia, Repco is the largest reseller and supplier in the automotive parts aftermarket in Australiasia.

Smartsims has worked with dozens of other organisations, including DB Breweries, New Zealand Post, Microsoft and HP for cross-functional training and middle-management up-skilling over the years. We continue to receive consistent feedback praising the effectiveness of our Business simulations  from participants and administrators alike for training purposes.

If you are interested in adding value to your next Corporate Training day, Seminar, or Team Building Exercise, please contact our friendly sales team who can provide you with detailed information on fitting one of our Simulations to your needs.



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