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One student at a time: how business education is evolving with the help of simulations

Louis Havriliuc  //  13.03.2017

In the next few months tens of thousands of students from some of the best universities around the world will enter their own business simulation competition. For many of them this will be their first ever experience similar to running a full scale enterprise. With so much excitement in the air, let us bring into focus why this increasingly popular learning method keeps engaging the minds of educators and learners alike and why it keeps growing in popularity year after year. 

Experiential learning methodologies in the field of business education have taken off in great numbers in recent times helped also by visionary educators and decision makers. Innovative companies and technology-versed students are now using business simulations in all of their forms. These cover an essential need: that of imparting useful, actionable knowledge on complex, interrelated business subjects. With the help of active learning provided by simulations, students are taken through all the main drivers of a company’s operation as they experience managing their virtual firms from the position of a Manager or a CEO. The emotional reaction is very much present: the joy of witnessing good results in the simulation is sometimes contrasted by some frustration when a strategy does not work out as intended. Thus the software can easily cement an experience into the consciousness of students providing them with a long-lasting lesson. And all of this is achieved with absolutely no risk and no money spent. 
As the environment in which businesses operate today is subject to constant change so do the tools and teaching practices have to keep up in order to make sure no student gets left behind. Simulations on their own are only as good as the one sitting on the learning end considers them to be. Not surprisingly then, when put in the hands (and hearts) of passionate educators they become disruptive learning tools, enabling a new way in which education takes place. 
The global educational system needs to realign to a new reality, that in which facts & theories are not going to retain their status as the most important type of knowledge. Facts change. Theories evolve. The pace at which this is happening is faster than ever. The Internet is doing a decent job on keeping us up to date with that. One thing which the Internet cannot do well (at least not for now) is to give answers to some of our more complex questions and provide us with a new type of information layer: that of dynamic knowledge, of know-how, which is under constant change. We are entering an era in which it is more important to focus on asking the right questions rather than spend time looking up answers.
To conclude, the simulation methodology does come with its own limitations, including the fact that there is a learning curve attached to each methodology. Each simulation game comes with rules. But once students learn how to use a simulation it does get them into the habit of developing a structured approach of thinking and of setting up the right questions rather than just serve them straight-up answers. And that’s why this teaching method has a long life ahead. 
It’s never too early or too late to start teaching with simulations. At Simbound, you as an educator, are awaited by a global community of educational technology professionals, educators and students all of which are happy to share their passion for this efficient and fun way of learning. When will you start your simulation? 

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