“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.”-Benjamin Franklin
One of the most important, but difficult, aspects of teaching is finding ways to truly engage students in the learning experience. This challenge can be even harder to tackle in an online classroom, where your students’ attention may be divided between a number of distractions.
Student engagement is the reason we at Marketplace Simulations do the work that we do. Our simulations are designed to draw students into the story, introducing new information incrementally, calling for students to process and make use of this information in their actions and decisions. Students get to test out their decisions early on and then make changes and adjustments as they grow in their understanding of the market, their competition, and what makes a successful business. Every detail of our simulations—from the content to the interface—has been specifically designed with student engagement at the forefront.
Even with an engaging learning tool, like a simulation, the best learning experiences call for an engaged and committed instructor. To help, We’ve created five tips to help maximize your students’ engagement and learning with Marketplace Simulations:
Play up the narrative
Play up the simulation and gamification aspects of the exercise. People love stories and narrative is a key element in how we process and retain information. Anything you can do to put what you are teaching in such a context can help improve your students’ ability to retain what they are learning. In addition, you may find that narrative will create a hook for those students who are not as engaged as others. For example, every former physics student knows what you mean when you ask them to imagine a spherical cow – it is an image so inherently silly that it sticks with you and the principles of theoretical physics (which it is used to demonstrate) come back to them. Such imagery can be used to create points of reference that will stick with them.
Foster team cohesion and friendly rivalry
Marketplace Simulations can be most rewarding when played on teams. Team-based learning can help re-create the internal cohesion that proximity provides in a classroom. Each team will create its own dynamic and help the students become invested, as they are no longer just looking out for themselves. Teams will begin to compare themselves to others, and strive to outperform their “competitors”. You can ask teams to articulate how their individual roles as executives over different functional areas contribute to a sound business strategy, and how each functional area supports this. You can also ask them to analyze their competitors through the use of the strategic charts and graphs within the Performance Report, and benchmarking their own products and decisions against their competitors’.
Draw them out
Engage with your students by asking open ended questions. Do your best not to answer questions that are non-procedural. Instead, lead them to find solutions of their own. Emphasize that there are multiple right and wrong answers to any given situation, especially in a simulation as complex as Marketplace. Prod them to look at issues in the context of their overall goals and strategies, and to engage with one-another. If someone is being overly quiet, or if someone is monopolizing the conversation, you may ask a question related to the quiet student’s functional area within the simulation.
Be available (and relatable)
Through it all, let your students know that you are available to meet with them and discuss issues with which they might be struggling. Remember, the Marketplace Support team is also available 7 days a week for your students, so do not hesitate to refer them to us. Showing your students that you really care about their learning and performance will go a long way. You may try to lighten the mood if students are getting overly stressed out—remind them that the purpose of the exercise is for them to learn and improve, and the only way to do that is to make mistakes and move past them. Respond promptly to their questions, and if you can, learn their names!
Examine the “Why?”
Finally, make sure to ask everyone why they are making the decisions they are making. How they expect those decisions will play out? Later, ask them how it worked. What did they learn, and what might they change to improve their outcomes moving forward? Expect and encourage comprehensive answers. Make it clear that even while they may not yet fully comprehend each function, they should be grasping the overlying principles presented throughout the simulation, and putting these to work in their strategic and tactical decisions. If they cannot articulate their overall business strategy or the key concepts behind their functional decisions, you may ask them to go back and review the simulation content or supplemental material and reconsider their approach in light of what they are learning.
While online learning can present new challenges for engaging your students, we hope that through the use of tools like Marketplace, it presents new opportunities as well. Even if you have made the transition back to face to face learning or will be doing so in the future, we hope you find that your efforts to create engaging learning experiences for your online students enhance your face to face teaching as well. Through the use of narrative tools, like simulations, and a thoughtful approach to engagement, you will no doubt create a dynamic experience that is rewarding to both you and your students.