Trainees Love Simulations

Research shows that abstract lectures without ties to application are disliked by participants in training programs. This preference is especially true for employees who grew up with computer-based games at their fingertips. Virtual reality technology is moving the desire for active involvement in the learning process from a desire to a demand.

Business simulation games are a proven pedagogy that transforms a static training setting into an active learning environment. Research shows that participants not only love the hands-on experience of working with simulations to improve their comprehension of business concepts. They also value the opportunity simulations offer to move outside their functional silos to see the implications of their decisions on the business from the perspective of a general manager.

Participants hone their managerial skills in a dynamic, safe environment, learning from their mistakes and advancing to higher levels of understanding from one decision round to the next. They develop their critical thinking skills as they analyze and respond to the consequences of their decisions, and they develop team building skills as they engage with members of the management team to accomplish the goals of their simulated business. Overall, participants find business simulations captivating and exciting.

Trainers Love Simulations

The first challenge trainers face in managing any program is engaging participants. Without involvement and buy-in from the participants, no training session will be well received. Business simulations, by their design, embed active learning in the core of a training program and position participants in the center of the training process. It is practice by doing, and according to research by the National Training Laboratories, “learning by doing” results in better retention than other methods, including lecture, reading, audio or visual content, demonstration, or discussion. The only method that results in better retention is teaching others.

Business simulations connect theoretical knowledge and conceptual perspectives with real-world applications. In addition, they enhance participant engagement in a training program by injecting competition into the learning process as teams vie to outperform their competitors. This combination of intellectual and emotional involvement helps participants connect to a training program’s activities and goals while learning, helping them to:

  • Develop critical thinking skills.
  • Formulate and apply a business strategy.
  • Manage group and individual dynamics in an organization.
  • Recognize the interconnectedness of business functions.
  • Improve analytical skills for evaluating the marketing, operations and financial performance of a firm.

Using a business simulation as a pedagogical vehicle to achieve the goals of a training program has a long history of success. Trainers would be wise to consider how they can incorporate one of the many types of simulations available online. The wide range and complexity of simulations provide trainers with the opportunity to choose one that fits their program’s goals.