Our UK team is led by Andre Mostert from the University of East London; and the India team is led by Dr. Tarun Panwar from the Pearl Institute of Design, New Delhi.
Tim’s technique really surprised me. “I use the in-built scenarios to get started, direct them to the Simventure YouTube channel and ask the students to submit their monthly progress reports in a traditional report format,” he explained. Tim is a self-confessed technophobe and not typically first in line to buy our simulations. However, he has realized that his students really like the business simulation. Now at the end of his second semester Tim is particularly pleased that his students are engaged and self-directed.
I met Tim at the NACCE 2012 conference in Chicago where we had sponsored the Hawaii themed Internet Cafe. Tim McCabe is an Assistant Professor at the Tomkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, NY. His technique of working with simulations is really unique in the area of entrepreneurship education, where understanding and learning to use a simulation is usually the biggest challenge for educators.
59% of students at traditional educational institutions complain that their lecturers are becoming increasingly un-engaging. Whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, the classroom is already changing. Students expect the same level of engagement in education that they experience in their leisure activities, social media and shopping. Lecturers who cannot deliver that level of engagement face an uphill struggle in terms of class engagement and participation.
In a short documentary from Ericsson Sugata Mitra, professor of educational technology at the UK’s Newcastle University says, “Knowing something is probably an obsolete idea. You don’t actually need to know anything. You can find out at the point when you need to know it. It’s the teacher’s jobs to point young minds to the right kind of question. The teacher doesn’t need to give any answers because answers are everywhere.”
At the NACCE conference I was listening to keynote speakers like Doris K Christopher of Pampered Chef and Ray Charles Robinson Jr. Doris started her business from humble beginnings whereas Ray Jr had the benefit of learning from his father – the legendary Ray Charles, however both of them highlighted the learning that their personal journeys brought to their business. They learnt from their previous mistakes and applied their learning iteratively. Students also expect to learn practical skills in their entrepreneurship classes. They emphasize that educators who behave entrepreneurially in their approach to education show confidence by taking risks. This increases their self efficacy and own ability to take decisions. Educators who cannot demonstrate this ability in the classroom, find that their students are increasingly voting with their feet and dropping out of classes that they think are not engaging or useful.
That is why Tim’s attitude is so important to highlight. He is not just an educator but is an entrepreneur as well.
Talking with entrepreneurship educators at the various conferences all over the USA has helped us identify some of their concerns.
Some educators felt that simulations are just games and not authentic enough. This is a valid point and by definition simulations need to duplicate a real world situation. If your simulation does not feel real, avoid it for sure. The best way to evaluate this is to test drive your simulation.
The second concern was that students tend to ‘game’ simulation. They find ways to cheat and so it does not test them thoroughly enough. This is a valid observation and the only way this can be avoided is if your simulation has a dynamic logic engine or is algorithmic. This gives each new student a slightly different experience and they cannot follow cheat sheet or copy from each other.
The third concern was that the lecturer did not have enough time to learn new software. Well, there is no real way to get around that. When ever you want to try something new, a learning curve is involved. I know that most simulations are now quite easy to use and just like us, training and orientation packs are offered to help you get started.
The last concern is about money in the academic budget. As a vendor this is a difficult one to tackle. However simulations are now falling in price and are less than the cost of a textbook.
Please take some time to answer our poll on LinkedIn:
- They are not authentic enough
- Students learn to ‘game’ them
- Do not have time to learn new software
- Don’t have budget to buy new resources
See this fantastic video on educating children without teachers. If Sugata’s plans succeed we will address a crucial problem.
At Yellow Sequoia we intend to follow in Sugata’s footsteps in building our teaching products. More on that later, right now see the brilliant experiments run by Sugata.