How to teach with marketing simulations - 50 education ideas and tips

Posted on 14 aot, 2023 by Administrator

This guide will take the tutor from course planning and student recruitment all the way to course completion and the collection of feedback. There is no need to implement all of the items for a successful simulation based course,  just pick out what is most appropriate for your own course and context. Most action items should work well with any type of simulation, not just with Simbound or other marketing simulations. The main advantage of using Simbound is that it has almost all of the functionalities ready available so that you don’t spend time on setting these up using 3rd party software.

Man looking at empty projection screen

 

The main goal of this checklist is to help simulation instructors engage students into deep learning strategies and avoid superficial learning. There are many resources online that speak to the advantages of using simulations as part of learning. Here are some general learning benefits of using simulations:

-  You can engage students by showing the direct link to relevant professional contexts, sometimes using a competitive dimension to increase motivation and accountability in decision making.

- You provide a rich variety of opportunities for feedback and discussion.

- Simulations will lay the foundations for skills that are directly relevant to students' future careers, such as working collaboratively and considering different aspects when making decisions.

 

Activities are listed under five sections so that you can focus on each one at a time. They are: A) Course development B) Student recruitment C) Initial course D) Main course and E) Course completion.

Course Development

Course development is a critical part of the course setup process, as this will set the stage for the entire course to unfold on. Course development should be reviewed and adapted before the start of each edition of the course.

 

1. Start by planning the timetable and activities for the course. Planning is essential and is usually done months before the course starts.
 

2. You can ask students to help in searching online for the different simulations that they would like to learn with. You can repeat this process year after year if needed.
 

3. Plan on starting the course with the easy or familiar topics first, such as email or websites, and then move on to the more advanced topics.
 

4. Specify the type of technology or optimal setup that students will need to make best use of the simulation and any other content or resources required for the course.
 

5. Align each new simulation topic with the regular delivery of your own lectures or seminars. Theory or lectures should come first, followed by accessing the relevant topic in the simulation, where students can further expand their knowledge and practice what they have learned in class.
 

6. Allow enough time between weekly or daily sessions as students will need to research and/or experiment with the different elements available in the simulation. It's OK to have a break in the middle of the course.
 

7. Include regular opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences, analyze results and discuss lessons learned. This will encourage metacognitive thinking and deeper engagement with the learning material.
 

8. Develop rubrics or assessment criteria to evaluate student performance during the course and the simulation. Try to assess both the final outcomes and the decision-making process, including the rationale for decisions and teamwork.
 

9. Indicate whether students will be assessed on learning progress and whether the results of the simulation will contribute to the final grade for the course.
 

10. Run the simulation yourself for at least two or three rounds so that you understand the mechanics of the software and devise  a list of initial questions and answers which students should read before using the simulation for the first time.
 

11. For students who have disabilities or special needs, make sure that you work with the simulation provider to arrange the right means for them to get the most out of this learning experience. Be prepared to provide assistance if needed
 

12. Create basic guides using screenshots and annotations for the most common processes such as: registration to the platform, decision making, payment, interpreting results and asking for feedback or support. Asking the simulation provider to incorporate some of this into the platform can save you some time.
 

13. Pro tip: Search online for a course outline that is similar to your own course and adapt it to your own course.

Student recruitment

A diverse class of students with a real desire to succeed is essential for any successful course. Here is how to get one:


14. The course description should include a dedicated section for the simulation, which will attract students looking for practical experience and a certificate to put their name on.
 

15. Use current job demand statistics to inform students of the need for specialists in this area of work and highlight some of the skills needed to perform well.
 

16. List some of the companies that have recruited students from previous editions of the course.
 

17. Include a video interview with students who have completed the course.
 

18. Include the contact details of a student mentor who can help students decide if this course is right for them.
 

19. Pro tip: Include a link to a more detailed description of the simulation features so that students can research this and decide whether to enroll on your course.

Initial Course Stage

The start of the actual course is essential and will help you set up the whole course for success. You may find that you need an assistant at this stage, someone to help you with the more time consuming tasks especially if your course has a large number of participants.

 

20. Outline the objectives and learning outcomes of the simulation. This will help students understand what they are expected to achieve and ensure that the simulation is aligned with the overall course objectives.
 

21. Go over the basics first: outline the timetable for this activity, present the structures of the student teams or companies in the simulation and their starting position and resources that are available in the virtual marketplace, talk about how deadlines work, how to submit decisions, where to get support from etc.
 

22. Avoid information overload. Print out guides and other information, such as market reports or consumer information and trends, and control the rate of content discovery and the addition of new instructions or elements to the course.
 

23. Preparation is key. Make sure everyone reads the guides and watches the videos. Do not allow students to jump straight into the simulation if it is a complex simulation which requires multiple decisions.
 

24. Operate the student simulation platform yourself in front of the class and/or show pre-recorded videos of how it works.
 

25. Ask students to come up with an initial plan and course of action for the simulation. Even if the plan is not to be fully implemented in the end, it is still a valuable exercise in learning and it will encourage students to look at this from different angles.
 

26. Hide or remove content or other sections that are not initially relevant, such as quizzes, reports or any other material that is not essential for the initial phase.
 

27. Add easy-to-follow objectives: The first decisions should be basic operations such as setting up a website or creating an advertising campaign. This will build confidence and expertise when attempting some of the more difficult decisions in the simulation later on.
 

28. Allow students to practice running the simulation once or twice without them having to face of consequences of making wrong decisions. Use the preview of results or similar practice round functions to reduce uncertainty about expected results and hesitation in making new decisions.
 

29. Indicate where students can go to obtain help in understanding some of the theory involved in the simulation which was not covered by the course.


30. Remind students that simulations are not intended to be the main source of theoretical knowledge on the course and should not be used as such.

31. Point out any moving parts or components that are likely to change within the simulation, as students will need to regularly read and adapt to new information such as instructions, reports or market data.


32. Ask a representative from the simulation company to provide structured guidance: Having a framework for navigating the simulation through guidelines, timelines and specific tasks to be completed at different stages of the simulation will help students overcome the initial barrier of adapting to a new learning environment.


33. Pro Tip: Show students what a completed simulation activity would look like in terms of decisions and outcomes, as well as the reports or presentations produced by students from previous cohorts.
 

Main Course Experience

Most of the learning will take place within the main part of the course unfolding. You can gradually increase the complexity and multitude of activities within the simulation at this stage in order to reach better learning objectives. Here are some ideas:

 

34. Try to involve students to use multiple senses when working on this activity. Bring the product that they are selling in the simulation in front of the class so that students can perform a more in depth analysis and write a more detailed description of this, or invite them to dress up in the colors of their team. By encouraging students to feel emotion and attachment your course will benefit from higher engagement and participation and ultimately better learning results.


35. Ask students to provide the reasoning behind making certain decisions. Example: Is your decision part of an integrated and planned effort, or is it just experimentation? Well thought-out answers will help you in the assessment of learning inside the course and you can use such answer data to improve the course for future cohorts. 


36. Provide each student or team of students with periodic and personalized feedback on their decisions and results either by benchmarking them to the other students on the course or having one default set of decisions and results acting as reference.


37. Ask students to try and predict their performance ahead of when the simulation issues them with new results. This should be done once a few iterations have already been completed and students had the time to become familiar with the simulation environment. Even if the range of results is difficult to predict accurately this will help develop a tight loop for learning and enable understanding of cause and effect.


38. Suggest ways to improve and add detailed instructions if you see multiple students struggling with one type of decision in particular or if simulation results or engagement tends to fall short in a certain phase of the course.


39. Author new resources together with the students which then the entire class can use. While most simulation software will come with standard guides and learning resources you will want to either adapt these to match the course specifics or expand into creating entirely new materials or references to better equip students to meet with the different situations inside the simulation. Examples include: a market research report that will inform and inspire initial decision making, an analysis of periodical results using spreadsheet software, a template to present quarterly results to the company board.


40. Change the conditions inside the simulation by either increasing or decreasing demand or by enabling or disabling new market segments or products. This will make for a less linear learning activity and will prepare students to adapt and meet with new conditions which might change again in the future.


41. Ask questions which have the student go back and analyze the results of their own decisions. Examples include: What is currently your company’s best selling product? Why? or What is your most profitable marketing campaign?


42. Include real-world examples of the marketing channels and tactics being represented in the simulation as well as typical expected range of results and marketing objectives so that students understand how it relates to their own learning


43. Pro tip: Consolidate the simulation learning experience by inviting guest speakers from the industry to share their insights and experiences. This adds new real-world perspectives and improves the value provided by the simulation.

Course completion

A few key activities will help you bring the course to its successful ending. Your students should now know a lot more about the topics studied and possess the right methods and confidence to embark on real work projects and to join in the management of real marketing structures.

 

44. Disseminate each key stage of the entire course experience by using reports and analytics data. Talk about about what happened in every week and review some of the main achievements and breakthroughs of every week. This will feed the students’ sense of accomplishment and they get the chance to go back and decide to explore further one topic where they feel they would need to learn more.  
 

45. Ask students to provide feedback on their recent learning experience by using online forms to capture their answers data. You can make these forms store anonymous answers. Ask them what they learned that they think will help them with their future careers. You can use some of these answers to promote your course (see items 14 to 19)
 

46. Analyze the results by using multiple dimensions or metrics. Try and look beyond the standard financial reports as those typically capture only but a part of the entire effect on learning.


47. Try to introduce peer reviews where students evaluate their peers or teammates and also allow students to extend the learning experience to real life by transferring newly obtained skills to a real life project such as an internship or a marketing project for a company.
 

48. Award small prizes or mention the most successful individuals or teams of students on the schools social media accounts. This will get the best performing students with some deserved public recognition and it might open up avenues into new projects as it will also contribute to better results with new student recruitment.
 

49. Ask students to work on a presentation that will document their journey into making their more advanced decisions and the results they obtained
 

50. Pro tip: By using simulations for the assessment of learning you protect your course against any erratical usage of AI text generation platforms and help students develop critical thinking and ownership of their decisions while they are free to invest in building up their own preferred style of learning.
 

Conclusion

Simulations provide a dynamic and effective way to teach marketing concepts and obtain new skills. By using simulations many of which have elements from gamification you can reduce the passivity in your course and prepare students to tackle real world problems head on by using data and sound reasoning.

Immersing students in life-like scenarios, educators can open up experiential learning critical thinking and collaboration. As technology continues to reshape education incorporating digital marketing simulations into teaching methods will equip students with easy to transfer skills that are critical for success in the global ever-evolving digital world. The strategies and best practices outlined above will help educators to make use of the power of marketing simulations to create engaging and impactful learning experiences that prepare students to meet challenges as part of the modern workforce.

 
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