At the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, three TOPSIM – Business Simulations are played in different semesters and study programs. Until last summer, all seminars took place in classroom format, and the shift to distance learning due to COVID-19 pandemic opened up entirely new possibilities. In this article, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schneider explains how the online simulation-based seminars are conducted and what advantages they offer.
TOPSIM – General Management, TOPSIM – Manufacturing Management and TOPSIM – Going Global are currently used at the Department of Economics at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences. The business simulations are used at very different points in the course of study and have different goals.
For example, TOPSIM – General Management is used:
- in the Bachelor’s degree program Business Administration for practical relevance
- in the Master’s program Business Informatics to refresh business knowledge
- for technical students of the MBA for Engineers and Scientists to teach business basics
The Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences also offers other study models in addition to face-to-face studies, such as part-time studies, in which TOPSIM – Business Simulations are used.
Workflow of the online simulation-based seminars
All the meetings in the seminar were organized in Zoom, where not only the whole seminar group could meet, but also the individual teams had the possibility to organize themselves and to discuss. If necessary they could ask the seminar instructor Prof. Dr. Schneider to join them. In addition to Zoom, participants actively use the TOPSIM – Cloud. Through the learning platforms of the University they have received important information such as the participant manuals.
In order to support the students in the best possible way, Prof. Dr. Schneider recorded various short video tutorials about the business simulation and made them available to the participants. These supported the teams in the handling of the TOPSIM – Cloud and helped them with tips for the business simulation itself. In addition, if the participants have questions or problems in the business simulation, they can simply share their screen with the seminar leader. He can then provide them with assistance in a similar way as during the seminar when he is looking over the teams’ shoulders. Through these possibilities, the dynamics between teams and seminar instructor can also be recreated online in the seminar. Thus the participants can be helped in the best possible way.
Seminar participants are evaluated on the basis of their performance in the bsuiness simulation, whereby several factors are taken into account here. We have already presented the concept of Prof. Dr. Schneider and Prof. Dr. Burchert in another article (in German). Occasionally, the seminar leader also supplements the seminar with additional assignments (e.g. a business report) that may also be included in the grade.
Advantages of the online seminars
For the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, the increased flexibility of the online concpet is a particularly important aspect. Especially students in part-time study programs appreciate the possibilities for flexible work scheduling and self-organization. The distance learning format has opened up a whole new set of options for managing time and work. This supports the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in its aspiration to be a family-friendly university and was also very well received by the students themselves.
Also the TOPSIM – Cloud especially in connection with the new license model from TOPSIM made it easier to conduct the online seminar.
We would like to thank Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schneider for presenting his online business simulation concept and are looking forward to more seminars powered by TOPSIM.