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Experiential Learning with Online Business Simulations: Challenges and Opportunities

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Experiential Learning with Online Business Simulations: Challenges and Opportunities

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  1. Experiential Learning with Online Business Simulations: Challenges and Opportunities Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning November, 2008

  2. Agenda • Background • Market Research  Design Principles • Development Model • Demos • Looking to the Future • Questions

  3. Background • Harvard Business Publishing • Publishing division of Harvard Business School • Distribute Harvard Business Cases, eLearning products, Harvard Business Review, etc, to academic and corporate institutions • Higher Ed unit recently started developing our own eLearning products based on market needs • Why simulations? • Seen as an extension of the case method & participant-centered learning • From a content perspective: build upon lessons learned from sims developed on campus • From a distribution perspective: build upon lessons learned from our publishing history

  4. Market Research  Design Principles • Rigorous & Relevant • The content criterion • Perspective: the product • Teachable & Usable • The experience criterion • Perspective: the user/administrator • Professional & Deliverable • The support and delivery criteria • Perspective: the channel between product & user

  5. Rigorous & Relevant • Key components: • Quality – “brand-worthy”; designed based on principles of learning science • Focus – topical within a discipline; short seat-time • Lessons learned: • Not trying to make a “one size fits all” capstone sim – market survey reveals that majority of all sims used were those used by less than 5% of respondents • Syllabus space is tight – faculty willing to swap 1:1, case for sim • Too many sims achieve this then stop

  6. Teachable & Usable • Key components: • Usability, intuitive and engaging interface • Consistent framework for how sims are structured • Robust teaching note and support materials • Lessons learned: • The administrative burdens of running sims is the barrier to adoption for never-users and the reason for abandonment by former-users • Students increasingly expect engaging and sophisticated interfaces • Beware the “complexity = reality” trap

  7. Professional & Deliverable • Key components: • Delivery/publishing architecture that supports the unique purchasing and access models for higher ed • Robust simulation platform engine for re-usability & scalability • Technical support team • Lessons learned: • Don’t build “one-off” applications – support nightmares • The delivery experience can kill a good sim • Sims are complex software – they require support

  8. Development Model • Harvard Business Publishing • Selects topics • Manages project & guards product line vision • Forio Business Simulations • Provides sim platform & business simulation expertise • Models & codes simulation • Faculty Author(s) • Creates simulation ‘cover story’ & pedagogy • Determines learning objectives & assessment

  9. Demos

  10. Looking to the Future • Refine the Development Model • Testing, testing, testing • Continue to enhance the design framework and keep abreast of learning sciences research • Develop Additional Simulations • Scale up production • Productize existing sims (looking for business sim examples – from you??) • Cultivate an Experiential Sim Community • Enable faculty to build, host and distribute sims

  11. Questions? Denis Saulnier Assistant Director, Educational Technology Harvard Business Publishing dsaulnier@hbsp.harvard.edu simulations.hbsp.harvard.edu saulnier.typepad.com