Virtual business game makes learning come alive for students

Issue: Volume 97, Number 10

Posted: 11 June 2018
Reference #: 1H9j8f

A virtual business game providing an immersive, competitive and fun learning experience is proving popular with students.

Joy Business Academy is one of a number of initiatives that help young people learn in different ways, says Ministry of Education Employer Liaison Manager Patrick McKibbin.

“To find out what helps most, we spend time connecting to organisations to understand how they help young people be successful.”

It might come as a surprise to learn that Auckland Grammar School (AGS) business studies students are playing computer games as part of their learning. But that’s exactly what they’re doing, thanks to a partnership with Joy Business Academy (JBA), which allows students to operate a virtual business through an immersive gaming experience.

Last year, the World Economic Forum identified 10 skills as essential for future employment: complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, judgement and decision making, service orientation, negotiation, and cognitive flexibility.

AGS’s Head of Business Studies Doug Newton says skills such as these are often under-utilised within the internal enterprise competition; the Lions’ Den. This year, the business studies department has been piloting JBA’s business simulation games, which have hit the mark with students and teachers alike. Doug has found the ‘Business Tycoon’ game has helped students to develop the skills identified by the Forum.

“The learning outcomes have been interesting as the students have highlighted their outcome-based mindset, which is a challenge which they face if they are to be successful in the game. The game has taught and is currently teaching the students how to address the above skills through constant trial and error which is invaluable in the developing of our young men,” he says.

“I am trialling this game with my business studies students currently to assist in their development of these skills, which are increasingly important in future industries.”

Business Tycoon also tests students’ level of operational flexibility and allows them to experience being out of their comfort zone in a safe environment, Doug says.

JBA began over four years ago. Chief executive officer and founder James Coddington observed there was a large disparity between what young people are learning in secondary and tertiary education and what is required of them in the world of work.

“Talking to small businesses to large corporates, all their needs are exactly the same. They need essential core skills – things like critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, teamwork and resilience.”

In particular, James observed that young people lacked the necessary skills to run a business, such as resilience and financial literacy. He set out to address this with the creation of Joy Ice Cream, a social enterprise to help young people run a business. This provided the foundations for JBA, which aims to equip people with the skills they need through business simulations for young people.

James’ challenge was to work out how to ensure young people acquire these 21st century skills alongside what they’re learning through the core curriculum.

He is convinced gamification of learning leads to greater learning outcomes than traditional e-learning or even face-to-face. He puts this down to the fact that the learning experience needs to be immersive, relevant to the real world, and above all else, fun.

“I’ve yet to meet a teenager who doesn’t like gaming,” he says. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:10 am, 11 June 2018

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