Teaching Methods Archives

Devon Palmer from Nova Scotia Community College reviewing AdSim

A Student’s Perspective on AdSim Advertising Simulation

Devon Palmer from Nova Scotia Community College

Devon Palmer (pictured above), a student of Professor Harold Lowe from Nova Scotia Community College has previously used our MikesBikes Introduction simulation in his Business course. Upon completion, he was asked by Professor Lowe to also trial both Music2Go Marketing and AdSim Advertising simulations for his work placement.

The review below is written by Devon. He shares his point of view on the AdSim Advertising simulation and some advice on how to do well in the simulation. He also created a few videos on both Music2Go and AdSim business simulations, which you can watch at the end of his review.


What is AdSim?

Smartsims describes it as such in their AdSim Player’s Manual:

AdSim is a computer-based Advertising Simulation of the Digital Camera division of a Consumer Electronics Corporation.  You get the opportunity to experience and understand many of the key decision required to plan and implement an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Plan.

AdSim will give you the opportunity to have practical hands on experience at making critical advertising decisions and seeing the outcome in a live, interactive case study.”

The goal of the AdSim simulation is to maximize your Cumulative Net Marketing Contribution.

How do you do this?

The first step is renaming your firm. This is available to you both in Single-Player as well as Multi-Player. Being able to make this decision gives the simulation a personal feel, rather than just being “Company #12452”. Your two market segments that you get to advertise and sell your product to are the Existing and New markets. Unlike other simulations that allow you to have multiple products in multiple market segments, AdSim only has the one camera that goes into the two segments.

Media Planning

As this is the advertising simulation, your main contribution is the Advertising Plan. Your main goal is to set your advertising budget and allocate it among the five areas; TV, Radio, Magazines, Newspapers, and Interactive Digital Media. While other simulations, like MikesBikes or Music2Go, also give you this option, AdSim goes a step further allowing you to allocate within those five areas. This is more in-depth and a great addition, especially for an advertising class.

Media Planning Decisions in AdSim

Within the TV advertising you may allocate to four segments, Network TV, National TV, Local Spot TV, and Cable TV. Even further, you can allocate your budget into the Network TV segment into six more segments. These range from Early Morning to Late Fringe times of day.Network Allocations in AdSim

Newspapers have four segments as well, which include, General, Business, Tabloid, and Sunday.

Newspaper Allocation in AdSim

You can also further allocate within the General segment to five geographical regions such as North and South East, North and South West, and Central.

Newspaper Allocation in AdSim

Magazines have five categories that you can advertise in, Women’s Lifestyle, Men’s Lifestyle, Entertainment, Family, and News.

Magazines Allocation in AdSim

The Women’s and Men’s Lifestyle choice further breaks down into four more choices based on the age of the customer. These are, Youth 12-17, Adults 18-34, Adults 35-55, and Adults 55+.

Women's Lifestyle Allocation in AdSim

Radio gives you six station formats to choose from, these are, Contemporary Hit Radio, Urban, Country, Rock, Adult Contemporary, and Newstalk.

Radio Allocation in AdSim

The Country Station gives you the option of allocating your budget between the five geographical regions.

Country Allocation in AdSim

The Adult Contemporary Stations allocated between various peak listening times ranging from Morning Drive to Nighttime.

Adult Contemporary Allocation in adsim

Finally, the Interactive segment is new and unknown in this simulation. It gives you two choices of allocation, Direct Mail and Internet. They recommend experimenting within this segment to see how effective it is.

Interactive Allocation in adsim

After doing multiple simulations and seeing how the advertising plan selections work, I find that AdSim does it best out of all other Smartsims simulations I have used. The option to further allocate my budget into different areas is a great choice and would greatly benefit any other simulation. It is also very easy to use and understand as you just need to make sure your “pie-chart” equals 100%. Reading the reports for Chapter 2 of the Player’s Manual will put you in the right direction on how to effectively use each segment to their absolute best.

Agency Selection

Another part of the AdSim simulation is the Agency Selection. Here you decide on either trusting yourself to choose your media selections in a custom plan. This is a high-risk, high-reward option in my opinion. As you may select the right numbers in the right segments, but if you don’t do that it can be disastrous. I recommend only using a Internal Plan if you do the research beforehand. The other three options for your agency include TV Magic, Print Works, and Radio Can. These have their obvious strengths in one area, or two in the case for Print Works, but are still better than the default plans for each segment. I recommend picking one of these three agencies as they will give you good results when used correctly.

Agency Selection in AdSim

Message Strategy

This is where you pick how you want your digital camera to appear on the market, as well as who you want to target. You have four decisions to make in each of the four categories, Target, Benefit, Proof, and Personality.

To make these decisions all you have to do is click the one you want and then click “Apply.” Target is who you are targeting to sell your camera to – Professional, Amateur, Recreational, or Family. Then you select the Benefit of your camera, Simplicity, Small Size, Picture Quality, or Feature Packed. After selecting your Benefit, you will need to select the Proof, which are, Lens, Focus, Digital Chip, or Direct Printing. The final message you will convey to your customers is the Personality of your camera. The options include Simple and Reliable, Fun and Exciting, Precise and Efficient, or Thoughtful and Nostalgic.

There are reports you can read that give you an insight on which choices to make to maximize in your desired market. Like the other choices you are able to make, these are extremely easy to make and understand as its just a simple click to decide.

Message Strategy in AdSim

Customer Relationships

Customer Relationships is another feature made available during the simulation. The options for these screens are: CRM System, Warranty, Support, and Loyalty. When choosing your CRM System, you are given four options, to not have one at all, an Entry-Level, a Mid-Level, or a Custom system. These decisions require a bit more research than others, but by reading the chapter section about CRM, as well as the reports about it, will help you in making your CRM, if you choose to have one.

The Warranty selection give you the choice of what kind of warranty you’d like to offer to your customers: 90 days, 180 days, 1 year, or 2 years. Support is how your customers will go about fixing any issues with the product. This is offered by a manual, a website tool, an email helpdesk, or a telephone helpdesk. The last option is the Loyalty program. You can choose not to have one, having a regular newsletter, a regular photo contest, or offering a Photo School. Information on making these decisions are available in various market research reports.

CRM in Adsim

Marketing Communications

Later in the simulation, you will be given the opportunity to make the Marketing Communications decisions. This gives you the option of four choices, Sales Promotions, Trade Promotions, Sponsorships, and Public Relations.

Sales Promotions give the customer something a little extra when purchasing your product over the competitors, for example a bonus memory card. Trade Promotions are similar to Sales Promotions but give benefits to a Retailer instead. Sponsorships are a way to boost exposure for your product at a specific event. Public Relations is hiring PR consultants to attempt to promote towards journalist interest into writing reviews about your product. Again, there are reports you can read to give insight into which options to choose and when choosing the options, they are straightforward and simple to make.

Marketing Communications in AdSim

Market Research

Market Research reports are available to purchase every year, with new and updated reports available every year. The price of these reports vary from $25,000 to $50,000 and can give you very valuable information that can help you win. Some reports are more important to buy than others, while some are not worth buying at all, so make sure you know what you’re looking for before purchasing.

I feel the price for these reports are very worth it, especially if you were to purchase a report you didn’t need or felt didn’t give you the right information. There are reports that the Player’s Manual recommends purchasing, and I completely agree as the information that is given is highly useful in dominating the market, especially early on.

Market Research in AdSim

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I highly recommend the AdSim simulation by Smartsims for any class or business looking for business simulations that have a focus on Advertising. It gives you the right amount of content where it feels complete and spreads it out evenly throughout the rollovers.

For me personally, my class at NSCC Pictou would have greatly appreciated using this simulation during our first semester in our second year, as we had both an Advertising class as well as a Market Research class. It would have fit perfectly in our schedule as well as setting us up for our final semester where we challenged our Management counterparts to the MikesBikes simulation.

I give this simulation a 9.5/10 and again, highly recommend it to any classes or business that would like to use a business simulation to teach the fundamentals of advertising and its affect on the business.

Here are the videos that Devon created for both AdSim and Music2Go:

AdSim Advertising Videos 

Music2Go Marketing Videos 

Related Articles: 
student review on MikesBikes Advanced

A Student’s Perspective on MikesBikes Advanced Strategic Management Simulation

Ruben Chavez (@thinkgrowprosper)

The quote above by Ruben Chavez of Think, Grow, Prosper acknowledges the impact of experience as the best way to learn. This holds true with one of our students, Sharon Capps from University of St. Mary. She’s currently using the MikesBikes Advanced simulation in their Strategic Management course taught by Lisa Parrott.

The review below is written by Sharon. She shares her insight and lessons she has learned from the simulation.


There are some real benefits from this short-term and intense competition between our teams. We do not have time to get complacent, we are doing two rollovers a week now and constantly have to be reevaluating and making new decisions. We are also establishing the brand for our company through our strategic focus.

This game makes us become self-aware of what we do not understand and need to review so we can be more successful in the next round. What changes we make in one area and how they may impact another area positively or negatively.

Each of us are also discovering our strengths within our teams and what we can focus on that sets our company apart. We are also learning how to better evaluate our competitors and analyze what data we can see from the other teams. This helps us make calculated decisions based on what we think their next move may be and plan accordingly.

We are also learning to plan far ahead to anticipate growth and expansion, not just focus on the rollover within the next few days. Another business mainstay we are strengthening is to always focus on what our customers need and want (Kittaneh, 2015).

We are lucky within this game because we get a lot of helpful data in this area, but our teams have to constantly look at where our bikes fall on the perceptual maps.

Sharon Capps on MikesBikes Advanced

Related Articles: 
20 Years of MikesBikes Advanced at University of Auckland

University of Auckland Celebrates 20 Years of MikesBikes

 

20 Years of MikesBikes Advanced at University of Auckland

2019 marks the 20th Anniversary of using MikesBikes Advanced at the University of Auckland. The “MikesBikes Reunion” took place on the 25th of March to enable alumni to reconnect with their fellow team members and simulation users.

MikesBikes Advanced is used at an undergraduate level in Management in Dynamic Contexts taught by Peter Smith and Andrew Patterson. As well as at a masters level in Managing People in Organisations taught by Darl Kolb.

The evening started with a few words from Peter Smith, Darl Kolb and Smartsims CEO, Dennis Gain.

2019 MikesBikes Reunion at University of Auckland

“It was great to catch up with so many former students and hear about their achievements since leaving University. We were also lucky enough to have representatives from Smartsims (the makers of MikesBikes), come along and support the event (many of whom are also alumni too).”

 – Peter Smith

One of two previous Masters student, David Thomas, who wrote their Thesis using MikesBikes data, were present at the reunion. The other was Emma Dawson, who is now based in California.2019 MikesBikes Reunion at University of Auckland

We also met Sajjad Arastu (first person on the right), who is currently sitting in first place in the Single-Player (All-Time) Hall of Fame.

2019 MikesBikes Reunion at University of Auckland

The rest of the evening was spent reminiscing about the fun times, mishaps (where best lessons come from!) and experiences from MikesBikes.

“Students come back to us and talked about how they’ve gone into an interview in the big four accounting firms. They haven’t had any other experience in other organizations, but they can say with pride and confidence that they’ve actually worked in a team that had real work to do. It’s always heartening because it does actually simulate a professional work team. I’ve also had people at a personal level realize that the simulation gives them a chance to think about their own personal direction, who they are and who they want to be. It’s quite rewarding and fulfilling as professor.” 

– Darl Kolb

2019 MikesBikes Reunion at University of Auckland

We are only now really appreciating how powerful the use of MikesBikes has been. Darl and I  were struck by the warm feelings the alumni had for MikesBikes and the value they saw in its use. For example, I had a really nice email from one student (who now works overseas and couldn’t attend) explaining how useful he had found the lesson learnt through MikesBikes when he worked in Software Development, and how much its shapes what he does now that he is a university lecturer.

– Peter Smith

We would like to thank Peter Smith, Darl Kolb and Andrew Patterson for their continued support for the past 20 years. We’re looking forward to many more years of working together!

Photo credit: All photos are provided by University of Auckland and Natalie Newton

DeltaSigmaPi x Smartsims

Professional Fraternity Exploring Entrepreneurship through MikesBikes Advanced

The article below is written by one of our previous students, Michael Stewart from Boston University. Michael took the Managing a Growing Enterprise course with Professor Greg Stoller and used MikesBikes Advanced as part of this.

Upon completion, he had the idea to incorporate MikesBikes Advanced into their program for this semester’s pledge class in their business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi. The purpose of their fraternity is to foster the study of business in universities and to promote the association of students studying business for their mutual advancement through research and practice.

Michael is in charge of instructing the pledge (underclassmen students at Boston University) as they seek brotherhood within the fraternity. He felt that the simulation would be academically enriching and will create some level of competitiveness and enjoyment.


MikesBikes Advanced Experience in the Managing a Growing Enterprise course

This past fall, I was introduced to MikesBikes Advanced in my Managing a Growing Enterprise course at Boston University. This class was for students interested in pursuing Entrepreneurship and much of the lesson plan was focused on how to strategically position a new company in a competitive market.

Our Professor, Gregory Stoller, used the simulation to further our understanding of class material, as well as a tool to keep students engaged outside of the classroom.

MikesBikes Advanced is an online business simulation that offers students the opportunity to run their own company, while managing all the key functional areas of a business. It is an interactive tool that applies the basic concepts of business in a real-life context. Through the simulation, we received hands on experience making marketing, operations, product development and financial decisions.

After introducing the simulation to us and dividing us into teams, Professor Stoller assigned us our first deliverable; the Strategic Plan.

Boston University MikesBikes team strategic plan

Our Strategic Plan set the guidelines of our businesses and assisted teams as they set variables for the first few weeks of the simulation.

The plan outlined our company’s mission, corporate and functional strategy and the key metrics that would be utilized to measure our company’s performance. The plan allowed for teams to show how they were going to position their companies relative to others in the virtual industry and how they were going to structure their spending in each functional area to achieve this position.

My classmates and I understand how much work would be involved in this assignment and found ourselves working on plans late into the night and often overnight into the morning they were due. This shows the complexity of the simulation and all the variables that you must stay apprised of over the course of the weekly rollovers. Once the first rollover hit, we still found that we failed to account for many of the variables that play into the shareholder value, which happened to be the most important metric in MikesBikes.

As the weeks passed, we saw the virtual market begins to take shape as teams began to adapt their strategies. Some teams chose to launch products into all possible market segments, whereas others held tight within only a few segments. By the end of the simulation, the teams that diversified their product found the most success. With only a few weeks left, teams who were behind did not have the time needed to launch new products and replicated the success of others. The lagging teams resorted to paying dividends and manipulating other financial variables in order to inflate their shareholder values in the final hour.

At the very end of the semester, each of the teams presented their performance and the lessons they learned from their experience in the simulation. Each team spent time discussing some of the mistakes they made early in the simulation and how they could have operated differently. The improper use of cash was a factor that impacted all the teams. Almost all the teams sat on heavy cash balances and did not use resources to reinvest back in their operations. It was not until the end of the simulation that we all began to pay dividends, buy back equity and pay off debt.

The simulation gave the class a more competitive feel than other business classes. Every Wednesday night my classmates and I would stay up to see who was on top after the weekly rollover. We spent hours trying to find the best ways to position our respective companies, may it be targeting a different segment or possibly improving product quality. We knew that if we found ourselves at the bottom of the rankings on Thursday morning, we would be subjected to some friendly banter among others in the class. As a rather small class, a shared bond developed within the group. It also helped that most of us had pre-existing relationships from our shared brotherhood in the business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi.

Delta Sigma Pi (DSP)

Delta Sigma Pi Brothers at Boston University
From left to right: Max Reich, Gabor Imre, Hiro Nango, Eric Zhu and Michael Stewart (Brothers of DSP)

Our fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, or more fondly known as “DSP”, was organized in 1907 to bring students of commerce together, develop their skills and prepare them for the world of business.

Since its origin, DSP has attracted thousands of students to join its organization by emphasizing its four pillars: Brotherhood, Service, Professionalism and Scholarship. Along with a sense of identity, these pillars help guide DSP chapters across the country as they help mold young men and women into business leaders of tomorrow.

The shared brotherhood is also why we all found ourselves together in Professor Stoller’s class. The five of us all have interest in entrepreneurship, a few having some prior experience running their own companies. We were all driven by our shared desire to practice our business skills in an academic environment. Once a few of us signed up for Managing a Growing Enterprise, we quickly influenced others in the fraternity to join as well. I believe that this factor was what led to the simulation feeling so competitive – the fact that we wanted to have higher shareholder value than our brothers on the opposing teams.

Taking the class also opened our eyes to something that could be done to better our fraternity. Our chapter does not offer many outlets for our brothers to practice their business skills, work together in teams and compete against one another. We have been actively searching for different ways to accomplish this in the Spring 2019 semester. It is for this reason that we have decided to partner with Smartsims in order to share the MikesBikes simulation with our pledge class this spring.

After being introduced to MikesBikes this past semester, it became obvious to us that this could be a great tool to be added to our semester-long pledge program. Each semester, our new pledge class could take part in the simulation and practice their skills as they compete against one another. The simulation will provide the pledge class with an opportunity to better understand the functional elements that go into running a company.

MikesBikes Advanced at Delta Sigma Pi

Our plan is to run the simulation very similar to how it was conducted in Professor Stoller’s class. Of course, there will need to be many resources available to the pledge class as they will be less familiar with the functional areas of running a business as they are only underclassmen who have not taken some of the pre-requisite classes yet. We will address this concern by assigning advisers to each team and providing a two-week “ramp up” period before the first rollover.

Each team will work with the advisers to create Strategic Plans that will outline both their corporate and functional strategies. These plans will guide their decision making once the first rollover takes place. Advisers will continue working with teams throughout the semester and help guide them as they set variables that fit related to the simulation. The advisers will also help to further their understanding of topics such as trade-offs, competitive positioning, and other business-related activities. Since these topics are relative to almost every sector of the business world, these students will gain much value from taking part in this experience even if they have no aspiration towards running their own company.

The final deliverable will be a team presentation during which the pledges will talk about the lessons they learned and critical decisions that had the most impact on their performance. We hope this will be a reflective exercise that will also allow the pledges to practice speaking in business settings.

The winning team will be decided by both this presentation and simulation performance. The presentation will also be a tool for Administrators to review how to better implement the simulation in the future with pledges who have no prior entrepreneurial experiences.

As a fraternity, we are looking forward to seeing how we can further experiment with the MikesBikes Advanced simulation. We are certain that it will provide academic value to the pledge class. However, we are realistic in that we expect there to be some kinks given that this is our fist attempt implementing the simulation. We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to share this experience with the pledge class and hope it ignites an interest in Entrepreneurship.


Michael is currently running the MikesBikes Advanced simulation until April, so stay tuned for the next article featuring their pledges experience with the simulation!

Related Articles:

Student Success Stories: Peter Johnson from Des Moines Area Community College

University of Auckland Business Masters’ MikesBikes Presentations

Student Success Stories: Journey from a MikesBikes Business Simulation Student to a Smartsims Employee

Product Update in December from Smartsims

SMARTSIMS PRODUCT UPDATES: December 2018

New Animations when Saving Decisions

Previously, clicking the “Apply” button just reloads the screen, but with the new update it is now more evident that the decisions are being saved.

On-Screen Warning on Unsaved Decisions

Some students miss out on saving their decisions when they move onto a different screen or click away. So we have now added a new on-screen warning to notify students if a decision they have entered has been left unsaved.

On-screen warning on unsaved decisions

On-Screen Warnings on Decision Screens (MikesBikes Introduction)

Forecast Sales and Planned Production Warning

Students will now receive a warning when they have entered a high Sales Forecast, but their Production Quantity is lower.

MikesBikes Warning Message 1

MikesBikes Warning message 4

They will also receive a warning when their Planned Production Units is higher than their Sales Forecast.

MikesBikes Warning Message 2

MikesBikes Warning Message 3

Launching a Second Product in the Same Market Segment

This warning message should not discourage students from launching a second product if they wish, but it just informs them of what this decision entails.

Launching a second product warning message

Missed our previous Product Update articles? You can check these out here:

Best Practice in Experiential Learning by Frank Voehl

While all industries have best practices, they are especially prevalent in IT given that so much of the business revolves around data and business processes. Best practices formally represent tested and proven techniques in the form of procedural documentation. In contrast, undocumented procedures are often misleading because stated parameters are not necessarily true or accurate.

Best Practice

Definition – What does Best Practice mean? 

A best practice is an industry-wide agreement that standardizes the most efficient way to accomplish a desired outcome. A best practice generally consists of a technique, method or process. The concept implies that if an organization follows best practices, a delivered outcome with minimal problems or complications will be ensured. Best practices are often used for benchmarking and represent an outcome of repeated and contextual user actions.

Abstract

Experiential learning is the basic process of learning through experience and is more specifically defined as learning through reflection on doing. It is akin to forms of Hands-on Learning but does not necessarily involve participants reflecting on the outcomes or products of the process. Experiential learning is distinct from traditional forms of rote or didactic learning, in which the learner plays a comparatively passive role. It is related to, but not synonymous with, other forms of action learning and free-choice learning, along with cooperative learning.[1]

Assessing the effectiveness of the training program in terms of the benefits to the trainees and the company is a crucial element of any experiential learning program. Most assessments are data driven, and traditional tools use tests to measure effectiveness. When it comes to experiential learning programs, it is extremely difficult to gather data that can be used for assessments. This is where analytics come in. When combined with simulations and gamification, experiential training products become a powerhouse of data that can be used to deliver assessments results accurately across cognitive learning, skills affect and objective results.

The analytics engines in these simulations (such as MikesBikes) record, analyze and provide a detailed report on the participants’ interaction throughout the simulation. For writing purposes, I have chosen to use the classic Journalism tool called the 5Ws and One H method, starting with What, followed by Why, When, Where, Who — and lastly — How.[2]

What is Experiential Learning

In the words of Lewis and Williams: “In its simplest form, experiential learning means learning from experience or learning by doing. Experiential education first immerses learners in an experience and then encourages reflection about the experience to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking.”[3] The first theories of experiential learning arose in the mid-nineteenth century as attempts to move away from traditional formal education, where teachers simply presented students with abstract concepts, and toward an immersive method of instruction. Students would “learn by doing,” applying knowledge to experience to develop skills or new ways of thinking.

Experiential learning is also built upon a foundation of interdisciplinary and constructivist learning. Experiential methodology doesn’t treat each subject as being walled off in its own room, unconnected to any other subjects. Compartmentalized learning doesn’t reflect the real world, while as the experiential classroom works to create an interdisciplinary learning experience that mimics real world learning.

Similarly, experiential learning is aligned with the constructivist theory of learning in that the outcomes of the learning process are varied and often unpredictable and learners play a critical role in assessing their own learning.  How one participant chooses to solve a problem will be different from another, and what one takes away from an experience will be different from the others.

The context for learning is different—learning may not take place in the classroom, and there may be no textbooks or academic texts to study. Finally, the curriculum itself may not be clearly identified—the student may have to identify the knowledge required and then acquire it themselves, reflecting on their learning as they go along.

Experiential learning can also be defined by the qualities it imparts on its learners. Successful experiential learners have a willingness to reorder or alter their conception of a topic. They can reason for themselves and are able to successfully explain their position. They have clarity of purpose with tasks they undertake and the self-management skills necessary to work successfully both alone and in a group.

Experiential learners are aware of the “rules” governing their discipline or mode of operation, but are also open-minded, and able to work with people with different views. Finally, experiential learners are in control of their voice—they can identify the role of emotion in their learning, as well as reflect on how they have come to their new knowledge (Moon, 2004, p. 163).[4]

Why Use Experiential Learning

The open nature of experiential learning means that it can often be difficult to define what is, and is not, an experiential activity. There are many activities that have the potential to be experiential but may not be depending on the execution.

As outlined by Chapman, McPhee, and Proudman:

“Simple participation in a prescribed set of learning experiences does not make something experiential. The experiential methodology is not linear, cyclical, or even patterned. It is a series of working principles, all of which are equally important or must be present to varying degrees at some time during experiential learning. These principles are required no matter what activity the student is engaged in or where the learning takes place” (1995, p. 243).[5]

To define ‘why,’ the following list of characteristics can be used to define the purpose of an activity or method as experiential, including [6]:

  1. Mixture of content and process: There must be a balance between the experiential activities and the underlying content or theory.
  2. Absence of excessive judgment: The instructor must create a safe space for students to work through their own process of self-discovery.
  3. Engagement in purposeful endeavors: In experiential learning, the learner is the self-teacher, therefore there must be “meaning for the student in the learning.”
  4. Relevance: The learning activities must be personally relevant to the student. Prepared by Michelle Schwartz, Research Associate, for the Vice Provost, Academic, Ryerson University, 2012
  5. Encouraging the big picture perspective: Experiential activities must allow the students to make connections between the learning they are doing and the world. Activities should build in students the ability to perceive and understand the relationships in complex systems, and then find a way to work within them.
  6. The role of reflection: Students should be able to reflect on their own learning, bringing “the theory to life” and gaining insight into themselves and their interactions with the world.
  7. Creating an emotional investment: Learners must be fully immersed in the experience, not merely doing what they feel is required of them. The process needs to engage the learner to a point where what is being learned and experienced strikes a critical, central sweet-spot within the learner.
  8. The re-examination of values: By working within a space that has been made safe for self exploration, students can begin to analyze and even alter their own values.
  9. The presence of meaningful relationships: One part of getting students to see their learning in the context of the whole world is to start by showing the relationships between “learner to self, learner to teacher, and learner to learning environment.”
  10. Learning outside one’s perceived comfort zones: “Learning is enhanced when students are given the opportunity to operate outside of their own perceived comfort zones.” This doesn’t refer just to physical environment, but also to the social environment. This could include, for instance, “being accountable for one’s actions and owning the consequences.”
When and Where: Methods for Assessing Experiential Activities

One of the keys to experiential learning is personalized learning. To enable personalized learning, every program needs to enable a journey through the following phases: Assessment, teaching and learning strategy, and curriculum choice. Experiential learning methodology is highly effective in meeting these requirements to enable personalized learning. It is a radical departure from traditional learning methods and takes the learning beyond the classroom, as the participants set their own learning pace. By combining technology and simulations with experiential learning, companies are making this concept available anytime and anywhere, across multiple devices.  This has introduced the concepts of the ‘flipped classroom,’ where the learning goes to the students and not the other way.[7]

Although there are potentially a wide variety of ways to assess when to use experiential activities, the most productive include both external and internal factors. Although all these methods are tied to reflection, the key is helping learners by focusing their learning while also producing an outcome/ product for assessment purposes.

Moon lists 20 or more examples in the Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning[8], of which items # 1, 3, 10, 13 and 15 have traditionally been selected as the most effective and popular:

  1. Maintenance of a learning journal or a portfolio
  2. Reflection on critical incidents
  3. Presentation on what has been learnt
  4. Analysis of strengths and weaknesses and related action planning
  5. Essay or report on what has been learnt (preferably with references to excerpts from reflective writing)
  6. Self-awareness tools and exercises (e.g. questionnaires about learning patterns)
  7. A review of a book that relates the work experience to own discipline
  8. Short answer questions of a ‘why’ or ‘explain’ nature
  9. A project that develops ideas further (group or individual)
  10. Self-evaluation of a task performed
  11. An article (e.g. for a newspaper) explaining something in the workplace
  12. Recommendation for improvement of some practice (a sensitive matter)
  13. An interview of the learner as a potential worker in the workplace
  14. A story that involves thinking about experiencing learning
  15. A request that students take a given theory and observe its application in the workplace
  16. An oral exam
  17. Management of an informed discussion
  18. A report on an event in the work situation (ethical issues)
  19. Account of how discipline issues apply to the workplace [9]
  20. An identification of and rationale for projects that could be done in the workplace.
Who Uses Experiential Learning

Instructors and participants like to use experiential learning for simulations. Simulations use real life scenarios that depict several challenges that a participant will eventually face after the course completion. It is only natural that mistakes happen during learning; using simulations is like taking kids to a playground, and getting them to have fun, try new things and learn in a safe controlled environment. By moving beyond theory to the realm of “learning by doing,’ the learner gets a first-hand experience of practicing what has been taught.  This plays a crucial role in retaining concepts and ideas.

How to Use the Learning Portfolio

There are very few learning methods that can have a dramatic impact on the participant’s mindset. Experiential Learning is one of them. Management guru Henry Mintzberg pointed out long ago that leadership, like swimming, cannot be learned by reading about it. The high focus on collaboration and learning from each other benefits the participant as it increases engagement. On the other hand, since the participant is immediately involved in the problem-solving activity or event, the level of ownership of the outcome is high.

Of these methods, Qualters[10] focuses on using the learning portfolio as one of the most comprehensive methods of assessing experiential learning, with its purpose being to “strongly determine the themes of the reflective narrative, as well as the types of documentation or evidence selected in the appendices.” A planning rubric representing this can be a table with three columns—purpose, theme, and evidence—and the content of these columns can be quite broad.  John Zubizarreta[11] proposes a simple model for a learning portfolio with three fundamental and interrelated components:

1. Reflection  2. Documentation  3. Collaboration.

Learning portfolios are distinguished from standard professional portfolios through their inclusion of a reflection component. It therefore becomes more than just “a showcase of student materials,” and instead becomes a “purposefully designed collection connected by carefully thought out structured student reflections.”

To plan a learning portfolio project, Zubizarreta[12] provides a short rubric that asks instructors to first identify the purpose of the portfolio, and then answer the following questions:

  1. What kind of reflective questions should students address?
  2. What kinds of evidence or learning outcomes would be most useful?
  3. How will students engage in collaboration and mentoring during the process?

Beyond assessing student learning, well-constructed portfolios can be used for accreditation, university-wide outcome assessment, and to document and understand the learning process at both the level of course and program.

How to Measure and Assess Experiential Learning

Measurement and assessment are very often the most integral parts of the experiential learning process. It provides a basis for participants and instructors alike to confirm and reflect on the learning and growth that has and is occurring. Further, proper assessment methods engender a “reflective process that ensures continued growth long after specific learning opportunities have been completed.

Without the appropriate assessment tool, such as a self-assessment, the educator might not ever realize that significant learning occurred. Therefore, classroom educators should search for assessment techniques that measure more than just the ability to remember information. [13]. The assessment of experiential activities presents a unique problem to instructors. Because in experiential activities the means are as important as the ends, “it is important to look at assessment as more than outcome measurement.

While outcomes are important to measure, they reflect the product of assessment, not a complete assessment cycle” (Qualters, 2010, p. 56). It is therefore necessary to devise unique assessment methods to measure success in both the process and the product—each area requires separate learning outcomes and criteria (Moon, 2004, p. 155).

Summary

I believe there are eight reasons why experiential learning is very likely to become the future of learning: [14]

  • Accelerates the learning process
  • Provides a relatively safe and secure learning environment
  • Bridges the gap between learning theory and practice
  • Produces demonstrable mindset changes
  • Increases participant engagement levels
  • Delivers exceptional Return on Investment or payback
  • Provides measurable and accurate assessment results
  • Enables personalized learning.

Everybody has one’s own model of learning, some of them more effective than others. In this article, I tried to convince interested readers to become enablers of a powerful learning experience which will help build a learning context by experiencing things. The need is urgent; the time is now.

The question is: Are you ready?


For references and footnotes view the PDF copy here: Best Practices in Experiential Learning by Frank Voehl

Frank Voehl

This article is written by Frank Voehl. Frank is an Innovation Coach and expert in the application of the business improvement tools and innovation methods to public and private organizations, including city, county, community government, and non-profit operations. He is also a Grand Master Black Belt Instructor in Lean Six Sigma and Performance Management. He’s a noted author and series editor of over 30 books and hundreds of business management and improvement articles and technical papers. He also provided input on the original design of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and facilitated its crossover to other nations and regions, including the Bahamas, South America, Europe and the Czech Republic.

Why is Shareholder Value the Main Metric in MikesBikes?

Here are some reasons why Shareholder Value is the main metric in MikesBikes:

There are arguments for and against any metric you might choose.  However, if there is a single metric on which students are measured, Shareholder Value is better for grading in most courses. This metric is simple to understand, capture and reward both financial and operational performance, and provide reasonable consistency of grading across courses.

What about alternative metrics?

Share Price

The Share Price valuation model incorporates a number of factors such as:

  • Earnings per Share (smoothed over time to reduce the effect of one-off good/bad performances)
  • Adjustments for certain types of spending which potentially add future value to your company, such as investment in product development, etc.
    • This is important so that firms who only make small profit or loss due to heavy investment in R&D or building product awareness are not punished.
  • Risk – In general, the higher the Debt/Equity ratio of the company, the higher the risk and the lower the Share Price.
  • Since it is based on Earnings per Share, in general, if you issue many shares, your Share Price will suffer. On the other hand, if you repurchase shares, your Share Price will improve.

Share Price hits most of our goals for a grading metric. However, Shareholder Value is a logical choice over Share Price because Shareholder Value is the current Share Price plus the present value of all past dividends paid. It is the value to an investor over time of having owned a single share of the company since the beginning of the simulation.

Market Share

Market Share by itself isn’t a particularly useful metric – your competitors could have a lower market share and be significantly more profitable.

Growth in profitability does not take into account how you financed your growth. Did you have to issue a large number of shares to fund your growth, which dilutes the value to an investor? Did the company heavily leverage itself increasing risk? What is Profitability? Do you look at total periods made in a given time period? Do you weigh more recent profits more heavily? What about the time value of those profits? How would you provide an understandable metric for that?

Total Market Capitalization

If you use total market capitalization, then you are inviting students to issue large amounts of additional equity to grow that figure. This is unlikely to benefit the performance of a successful company in any significant way as they do not require the extra funding.

Therefore, it is difficult to choose another single metric that captures the financial and operational performance of the company as well as Shareholder Value does.

On a side note, you could construct a Balanced Scorecard type metric where you look at various factors from different parts of the organization. In general, you still need to combine those somehow into a score which can be ranked and graded (and Shareholder Value would probably still form part of such a system). You will end up with a similar effect to ranking by Shareholder Value, but your metric no longer corresponds directly to a business concept, and you have to decide how your score should work. Is it an arbitrary number of ‘points’? Is it a percentage? An arbitrary metric may be harder to understand and explain than Shareholder Value. However, this is probably how we would look at grading. If at some time in the future we ever decide that Shareholder Value does not sufficiently capture performance across the entire business.

farming-industry-business-simulations

Business Simulations Help Texas Students Succeed in Farming

Business simulations are helping students all across America succeed in the real world, and this is just as true in “The Lone Star State” of Texas.

Farming is a major industry in Texas, and with technological advancements it has become increasingly important that ranchers and agricultural managers have degrees in business, with concentrations in agriculture, crop science, farm management, agronomy or animal science. Those working in the farming industry need to have a sound understanding of the market, and they need to be able to identify trends, analyze data and maintain their business’ brand.

The booming farming industries in Texas include cattle, cotton, milk and broilers. These are all businesses that produce perishable goods that need to adhere to regulations and laws. They are products that will fluctuate in price depending on the season, consumer demand and competitors, so being business-savvy reduces the risks and helps businesses produce products that are relevant and fit for the current market.

Business Education

One way to obtain a business education is the traditional way, i.e. through rote learning in a lecture hall. A better way to go about studying business is through business simulations, a more modern approach to education that has been proven to help students retain more knowledge and enter jobs with useful real-life experiences. For this reason, many university professors have chosen to incorporate Smartsims business simulations into their courses, such as at the University of Texas – Austin.

Business simulations are designed to make it easier for students to be confidently ready for the workforce as soon as they graduate. There exists a huge opportunity to better equip students with the necessary skills and experience, and business simulations have been tailored to do just that. Active learning through simulated business scenarios allows students to understand business strategy and management concepts at a deeper level.

Why Business Simulations?

The benefits of business simulations are endless. They provide an immersive experience, incorporating a wide variety of teaching methods such as experiential learning, reflective learning, action-oriented learning and the flipped classroom. Students are more likely to be engaged and alert, resulting in better outcomes. Business simulations provide a safe setting for students to bridge theories and concepts with real-life experiences, learning from their mistakes and its consequences as well as celebrating their successes.

Business simulations replicate the informal, reflective and interactive nature of workplace learning. Authors agree that workplace relevant learning is typically created in action as employees form solutions to problems (Gibbons et al., 1994; Marsick & Watkins, 1996; Sternberg & Horvath, 1999). To succeed in a large-scale, highly competitive industry such as farming, workers need to display independent problem-solving abilities. Business simulations help students become more capable.

Smartsims Helps the Farming Industry

We have two business courses designed to help students develop business knowledge and skills, and covert theory into real-world skills. Smartsims’ MikesBikes Introduction is a foundation-level course that allows students to build up their confidence, and MikesBikes Advanced is a highly instructive strategic management simulation that takes it to the next level. The skills learned in these simulations translate well to the farming industry or to any other type of business.

If you are considering entering the farming industry, or you are already in the workforce but want to further your knowledge and skills, contact us to find out more about simulation training. Our business simulation games are changing the shape of the education system, and the success of businesses in Texas and all over the world. Experiential education is the evolution of education.

people looking at computers

New Models Of Corporate Learning – Digital Learning In Business

Adapted from an article written by Karie Willyerd, Alwin Grünwald, Kerry Brown, Bernd Welz, and Polly Traylor and originally published in the Digitalist Magazine by SAP.

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage” – Jack Welch

For companies, traditional training methods, such as classrooms, are still relevant, but they are no longer the prime delivery method for learning. Now digital experiential learning methods offer businesses a versatile platform that connects the dots between learning outcomes and business outcomes, such as attrition, employee engagement, and sales growth.

Brown and colleagues of business software solutions company SAP introduce a convincing argument for the effectiveness and efficiency of modern methods of experiential education. Businesses that leverage custom-made, carefully-integrated digital learning models generate effective employees and dynamic business strategies. The authors outline their findings in six exciting concepts.

1. Continuous mobile learning is the future

The future of learning rests with learning methods that are rapid, mobile and on-going. Brown et al. believe the greatest challenge for traditional learning methods is their inability to keep up with the increased diversity and pace of the modern business climate. Systems like classrooms, slides, and textbooks cannot keep up with these pressing factors.

Digital learning allows businesses to mobilize their training systems to each employee in customised, consumable forms. This portable form of learning turns training into a continuous and ever-engaging experience. Bernd Knobel, a director at CGI Consulting called his company’s digital training, “a ‘moment of need’ reference tool” that assists his employees in their everyday duties. As a continuous system, it is a tool that lets employees access it where and when they require. Like CGI, digital learning methods are continuous training systems that give more employees the autonomy to learn as they work.

2. Digital’s Competitive Advantage

Digital learning helps businesses keep up to date with modern developments in technology and communications. Companies like Uber, Netflix, Airbnb and many others used modern technology and digital systems to outrun the developments of tomorrow. Any business can gain this competitive edge by using and understanding the potential of digital learning methods.

3. The Need for Multi-Skilled Employees

Jim Carroll, a renowned business consultant, uses the automotive industry to describe the modern need for multi-skilled employees. Carroll exemplifies how a regular car dealer requires a range of knowledge, “infinitely more complex than it was 5 or 10 years ago.” The integration of complex technology into normal, day-to-day activities necessitates a multi-skilled workforce in any business. Digital learning’s versatile and mobile systems make it the best tool in closing the skills gap of the modern workforce.

4. Motivation the Next Generation’s Workforce

The authors cite that in less than a decade 75% of the workforce will comprise of Millennials eager for expedient and diverse learning. Digital learning is a necessary addition to common business practice should the businesses of tomorrow want an engaged and prepared workforce. The Oxford Economic Workforce 2020 survey suggests that the top concern of employees surveyed is becoming obsolete. Digital learning benefits both businesses and their employees in addressing that reality of obsolescence.

5. The Defining Characteristics of Digital Learning

The article identifies six key characteristics that exemplify the transition from traditional to digital learning methods. The first is micro-learning, breaking large concepts into smaller consumable pieces. Businesses have the freedom to deconstruct their training into whatever sequence or series is appropriate. The main principle is taking large complex ideas and breaking them into smaller, simpler parts.

The second is self-serve learning. An overarching theme of the article is the importance of mobile, accessible learning systems. Digital learning can be cloud-based, updated in real-time and accessed where and when an employee needs. This is just one exciting foundation of its self-serve learning method.

The third is learning as a form of entertainment. Digital learning’s ability to take the form of business simulations, gamified goal-setting or virtual reality makes it an emotive and entertaining learning style. Joe Carella of the University of Arizona shared his praises of digital learning methods describing them as, “more immersive” than traditional online methods.

The fourth is the social learning of digital learning methods. Learning is an “emotional experience and most people don’t want to be alone when they learn”, says Brown et al. The potential for social collaboration produces new avenues for learning strategies and internal business growth.

The fifth, building off social learning, is user-generated content. Founder of The MASIE Centre, Elliott Masie described “raw, user-created content” as having a higher demand above “polished corporate-created content.” Digital learning leverages this social trend allowing employees to learn from each other in a collaborative environment.

Finally, the sixth characteristic is video. Video content can now be created, edited and consumed by anyone with access to a digital device and the internet. VP Cushing Anderson of the firm IDC says “[digital] learning is often about substituting convenience for perfect quality”.

6. The Human Equation of Shifting to Digital

The article concludes by emphasizing the importance of having a strong human connection throughout the digital learning experience. The point is succinctly summarised by the authors, “excellent learning depends on excellent instructors.” Blending digital into traditional, formal modes of learning leverages its human connection to produce knowledge that sticks.

The Main Takeaway

The key premise of the article is that business that leverage personalized, carefully-integrated digital learning models generate effective employees and dynamic business strategies. Digital learning methods are continuous learning platforms that give businesses a competitive edge while fostering a collaborative culture. Nevertheless, its benefits and advantages all rely on the human element and intending businesses should endeavor to integrate digital learning into existing formal training methods.

Get Students Tech-Savvy with Business Simulations

Get Tech-Ready to Take Over Silicon Valley with Business Simulations

Silicon Valley is ruled by millennials who rushed in to claim one of the many tech jobs available. This campus-inspired atmosphere is known for its culture of working hard and long hours, but it’s also the birthplace of innovative ideas that have transformed the way humans experience the world. So for many students it’s the dream place to work!

However, entering Silicon Valley requires more than good grades and the right attitude. Those who dream of landing a job in this market know that previous experience is essential to scoring big. Engaging in business simulations can help future movers and shakers experience the industry and get tech-ready for the road ahead.

The Job Market in Silicon Valley

The technology job market is becoming more and more competitive, and it’s no different in Silicon Valley. There is a huge demand for tech-savvy workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary in the computer science field is $81,430. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for project managers in Silicon Valley is $110,197, and the average Bay Area salaries for experienced data scientists and engineers are $162,000 and $189,000 respectively. Sounds good, right?

LinkedIn’s Workforce Report for June found that Americans agree. The report shows that of the 20 largest US metropolitan areas, Silicon Valley is the 12th most attractive place for jobs. Unsurprisingly, interviews are lengthy and difficult. A standard interview process will begin with an email, followed by a phone screening and then an on-site meeting. It’s important for applicants to be prepared, confident and present a fresh perspective in these interviews.

How Do Business Simulations Help?

Business simulation games allow students to manage their own virtual business, so they experience what it’s like to run a simulated company. Start-ups are popular in Silicon Valley, and many of them succeed. Having a simulated business provides a risk free learning opportunity. Bridging practice and theory in a low-risk environment (Gosen & Washbush, 2004). Simulated games teach real-life details in a flexible setting.

Students often find it hard to land a job after graduating, because they never learned how to bridge the concepts taught in class with real-life experiences. Simulated games are more engaging and memorable than traditional teaching methods, so students retain information better and have an advantage over others. Business simulations have also been proven to improve critical thinking skills (Lovelace, Eggers & Dyck, 2016).

Make an Impact with Business Simulations

If you’re looking to give your students a leg-up in the competitive job market, business simulations can help. Humans learn best by doing, reflecting and then doing it again, and that’s what business simulations are all about; action-oriented and reflective learning.

It’s not impossible to become a noticed member of the group, but it takes a special kind of education and a unique way of working to become a leader in this age of technology. At Smartsims, we offer a Foundations of Business Game, an advanced Business Strategy Game, a Marketing Simulation Game and an Advertising Simulation Game; all designed to give students real-world skills and experience, giving them the edge in the today’s competitive job market.