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How to meet student needs with Experiential Learning?

experiential - blog

The changing demands of today’s business landscape are causing MBA programs to alter their instructional methods in an attempt to keep up with evolving student needs. While traditional graduate business courses are comprised of case studies and extensive literary analysis, business programs are starting to use experiential learning activities that introduce students to real-world and complex business problems.

Prof. Veer Mehta of BusinessThink, believes students who learn through experience are better prepared to solve the problems of the 21st century because they learn to analyze business issues from multiple functional perspectives.

Experiential learning examples and activities, such as internships and consulting projects, are also becoming the preferred method of learning among students. According to a recent survey, nearly 80% percent of all graduate business students prefer experiential learning over case studies. These activities provide students with a competitive advantage that improves their employability and promotability.

Experiential Learning Made Easy With Business Simulations

Higher education needs to borrow a page from corporate education in regards to training and development. In corporate development programs, companies don’t want their employees to learn on the job. As puzzling as that may sound, learning on the job can lead to mistakes and irreparable consequences. Companies prefer in-the-field experiences that eliminate negative consequences while allowing employees to test ideas and learn from mistakes.

Business simulations serve the same purpose in higher education. The internships and consulting projects offered by companies are not suited to teach through trial-and-error. An unprepared student with a “we’ll see what happens” attitude can damage the valuable relationship between company and educational institution.

Similarly to how in-the-field experiences prepare employees for the job, business simulations develop the skills and knowledge needed to successfully complete an internship or consulting project. Simulations teach students how businesses and teams operate in the real world, thus improving business acumen and cross-functional decision-making.

However, you need to ensure that your business simulations are well-designed. Otherwise, the entire purpose is lost. Here are top four elements that make simulations effective.

1: Should Mirror actual Business Scenarios

Business simulations are super fun, but your goal is not to entertain your learners. Your simulations need to have the right business impact. When you invest in training, you must attempt to enhance the return-on-investment (ROI). Make sure you know what your employees want and deliver it to them. Chalk out the goals clearly and map a process to meet them.

2: Failures are stepping stone to success

Business simulations are developed to teach certain skills to the learners. A great way to learn a skill is to learn from your own mistakes. Make sure your simulation provides ample opportunity for your learners to make mistakes. Weave in the fail points at regular intervals and provide opportunities to correct them. Conflict and stress should be part of the learning process.

3: An Eye for Details

Plan the simulation before getting to the production process. Focus on the details as that is what will make the end product effective. Chalk out the specific digital interactions you plan to use – audio clips, placement of pages, and so on. Script the plot and build the characters gradually. It is important that your storyline, setting, characters, and visuals emulate the real job environment of the learners. That way, your employees will find the simulation relevant.

 4: Strategy! Strategy! Strategy!

How will you know if your hard work has paid off? There are several ways to evaluate if your learners have grasped the knowledge, and assessment is one of them. They can be in the form of multiple-choice questions, branched scenarios, quick quizzes, and so on. Consider giving your learners scenario-based activities. If you see that your learners are not able to complete their tasks even after going through the simulation, then you may need to rethink your strategy. You may also need to rework the plot and add more details.

Business simulations tackle institutional and program learning goals without disregarding student developmental needs. To learn more about business simulations and how they can lead to student success in internships and other experiential learning activities, contact us at