Monthly Archives: July 2016

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Tutorial Video: How To Use Offline Mode (All Simulations)

The video above will run you through the offline mode; what it is and how to launch it within all of our simulations. Please do note that some courses have the offline mode disabled, in which case you won’t have the option of launching an offline mode to test your Multi-Player decisions.

We have provided you with the text of the video for you below:

“Our simulations feature an offline mode which allows you to test your Multi-Player decisions through it. This video will first run through how you can launch an offline mode and following this I will discuss the limitations of the offline mode.

Now we will show you how to launch your offline firm. Please do note that some instructors have chosen to have the offline mode disabled for your course.

When you login to the Smartsims website and navigate to the simulation page, you will see a blue launch button and also an Offline button under the Multi-Player heading. Clicking on the blue button launches your live firm and clicking on the offline button launches an offline version of your firm where you can test the quality of your decisions. You are able to rollover to try out different options and strategies before you finalise your decision for that period.

The offline mode has several limitations to it, so bear these in mind.

In offline mode, your competitors use only their default decisions so it is important you don’t read too much into the results. For instance in Offline Mode you might launch new products into empty markets and do very well due to the lack of competition. But if you use those same decisions in the live Multi-Player, you could do poorly if the other firms choose to launch new products at the same time. Always think about what might happen if your competitors were to do something differently.

Decisions in Offline Mode are not saved back to your Multi-Player firm, so if you like the decisions you made, you should copy/paste the Current Decisions report into an Excel file, and re-enter the decisions by launching your live firm.

Now try using Offline Mode yourself, and feel free to email if you have any questions.”

By Dany Master and Brook McFarlane

Jaya, Maria And Rezyl Share Their Journey To First Place

Rezyl, Jaya and Maria (pictured above) form the team “Aether Bikes” from King’s Own Institute, Australia. While competing with other teams within their course (taught by Rex Walsh), Aether Bikes managed to achieve First Place within our MikesBikes-Intro Top 20 Hall of Fame!

Why is this significant? What does it mean?

Our Hall of Fame historically compiles the top 20 Shareholder Value results from firms played by students in courses worldwide. This means Aether Bikes beat every other team within our database. Considering our database includes hundreds of other firms and thousands of other students, for them to beat every single one of them is quite a feat in itself! It is fair to say this team had quite a good grip and understanding of business as a whole.

For those not in the know, Shareholder Value is the main Key Performance Indicator used within MikesBikes. Further, a rollover is the simulation’s way of showing a progression in time.

How did Aether Bikes achieve this?

“We found MikesBikes-Intro very competitive and engaging.

We adapted our strategy based on the current situation of the market and our competitor’s actions. In doing so, we made sure to keep track of all the Key Reports in the simulation, such as the Industry Benchmark Report and Market Summary (All Product Details) report. In addition to that, we have also made sure to read the Player’s Manual and watch all the videos available in the website.

The competition started out steady, but as time progressed, it got more competitive than we had anticipated. It became more difficult to come up with a plan that will differentiate our firm from others, as our decisions and strategy were quite similar to our competitors. What helped us on this were the resources available in the website, such as the manuals, videos and the key reports in the simulation.”

What advice did Aether Bikes have for other students?

“We would like to advice future students to read the manuals and watch the videos available in the website. These are very helpful in understanding the game. It’s also important to look at what your competitors are doing by utilizing the reports available. We strongly advice students to take advantage of the Single-Player, as this will better prepare them for the Multi-Player part of the simulation.”

Aether Bikes’ final comments:

“We believe that Smartsims has developed a great program in providing a real-world business experience. We have learnt and gained extensive knowledge about business, and how to run a company, just like in the real world. We would like to thank Smartsims for their efforts and our lecturer, Rex Walsh for being supportive and for providing us with helpful advice.”

By Brook McFarlane

Click Turning Back in Time

Flashback to MikesBikes Way Back When

There’s a social media trend that’s been going on for quite a while now, where you post old photos or memories from the past to share among your friends. Along with the photo is your caption, for which you will add either #FlashbackFriday, #TBT, #ThrowbackThursday or both if you wish. These hashtags denote that your photo is a “blast from the past.” This trend is the theme of our article and today’s piece is certainly a major #TBT. Continue reading Flashback to MikesBikes Way Back When

What are the benefits of using a simulator in a business course?

The Benefits Of Business Simulations

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”

– Albert Einstein

Instructors have felt the pull away from traditional teaching methods such as pure theory and case studies thanks to technological advancements in ICT and education. The student of today has been raised in an environment of connectivity with access to PCs, laptops, smartphones, and phablets. It is a part of their social context (Canaleta, Vernet, Vicet & Montero, 2009). Technology has permeated into everything we do, shaping our minds and affecting the way we teach (Carr, 2010). Today’s student may be inseparable from technology in itself (Canaleta et al., 2009; Woollaston, 2013); it is then fair to say their learning environment naturally requires ICT for any form of meaningful engagement. Not only in education but in daily life, the consumer and the student seek to gain a more active role within their environment (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004). Teaching methods therefore are moving away from the student as a passive learner, limited to taking notes and listening. Emerging from this is a new focus on learning surrounding the students actively constructing their own knowledge (Canaleta, Vernet, Vicent & Montero, 2009) and the instructor fulfilling the role of facilitator.As facilitators, the instructors’ role changes from simply distributing facts and theories to allowing the construction of a student experience. This is consistent with increasingly popular experiential learning theories purported by scholars such as Kolb (1984). With this in mind, it is easy for us then to state that online applications like business simulations rightfully occupy a pivotal place in learning environments.

Benefits of Business Simulations

Business simulations allow students and instructors to interact meaningfully. Further, by making various decisions for their simulated firm, students are tasked with transferring learned knowledge from class into a relevant and new scenario which is a requirement for engaging and memorable learning (Dirkx, 2001).

Stumpf and Dutton (1990) recognised that simulations resonate on both cognitive and emotional levels. Students gain the ability to apply learnt theory in action, validating that what they studied is relevant and applicable in the real world. At the same time, they develop communication and analytic skills which will be relevant to their future careers. On the other side of the spectrum, facilitators often feel that they made a positive difference to students’ learning, which is both relevant and required in today’s business world.

Anderson’s (2009) framework outlines three major outcomes from business simulation and cognitive learning:

Learning – Students gain first-hand experience of how business management decisions are interrelated. (e.g. how marketing decisions can affect manufacturing or finance decisions). Executing these concepts themselves, students learn skills such as:

  • Performing under pressure;
  • Analyzing environments to develop and implement a business plan;
  • Collaborating with teammates and managing conflict; and
  • Reflecting upon their performance and identifying areas of improvement to fare better.

The desired learning outcomes of a course are a major factor in the decision of whether or not to incorporate it as part of the course. Over several decades, scholars such as Bloom (1959) and; Gentry and Burns (1981) have provided descriptions of learning and the assessment process:

Cognitive Domain: Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Objectives

Learning Objective Description of Learning Assessment Process
Basic Knowledge Student recalls or recognises information Answering direct questions/tests
Comprehension Student changes information into a different symbolic form Ability to act on or process information by restating his or her own terms
Application Student discovers relationships, generalizations, and skills Application of knowledge to simulated problems
Analysis Student solves problems in light of conscious knowledge of relationships between components and the principle that organizes the system Identification of critical assumptions, alternatives and constraints in a problem situation
Synthesis Student goes beyond what is known, providing new insights Solution of a problem that requires original, creative thinking
Evaluation Student develops the ability to create standards of judgement, weigh and analyze Logical consistency and attention to detail

Source: Bloom, Englehart, Furst, Hill & Krathwohl, as cited in Anderson & Lawton, 2009.

It is our cognitive comprehension that allows us to adapt to what we have learnt in one situation to other situations”

– Anderson (2009, p. 199)

Attitudinal – Students engaging in the simulated learning experience gaining an appreciation for business and its nuances. The experience leads to applying learnt concepts to make effective decisions, leading to higher academic/executive performance. How does the engagement start? In his 2015 article, Gove identified that the reason simulations are able to hold learner attention is because they are immersive! Students have to navigate a complex environment and make decisions for interrelated functional areas. This complexity creates a need for students to actively engage with their simulated exercise on multiple levels such as product level, firm level and market level.

Behavioural – Tying in with student attitudes are their behaviours. As immersive as the backdrop of simulations are, they are competitive and instil in students, motivation to succeed and outperform their peers. Add to the fact that they are in a safe, risk-free environment, and you have the makings of a structure where students are willing to spend their time and energy to make well-informed and competitive decisions.

To summarize, as technology became prevalent, so did our ability to co-opt it as a method of teaching and learning. Online applications like business simulations have benefits like allowing teachers to become advisors and moderators in their own classrooms.  Meanwhile, student minds are trained how to think, adapt attitudes and behave competitively to succeed in business decision making.

Contact us if you would like more information on simulations or access to a free demo account.

– Danny Master