This summer distance learning was particularly important due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and thanks to globalization and digitization it also became possible! Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences played TOPSIM – easyManagement online for two weeks as a part of the International Event Management Shanghai (IEMS) study program. Thomas Temme explains how it all worked despite the time differences.
The Shanghai University of International Business and Economics has been a partner university of the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences for quite some time. Together with the colleague Prof. Louw from Rhodes University (Grahamstown, South Africa), Thomas Temme conducted a simulation-based seminar with around 60 students from Shanghai. The entire event had to be held online, as it was not possible to meet on site due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also in China students were participating in the seminar from their home offices, since the whole study programm was held in distance learning this year.
The event has been held a couple of times in the past, so the organization worked well. The simulation-based seminar was held using Zoom – in Osnabrück in the early morning, in China around six hours later in the afternoon.
How was the seminar organized?
The supervising professor from Shanghai took care of the organization on site. Five to six people of different levels formed a team. In the end, ten groups played with and against each other in this constellation for almost two weeks. In order to be able to participate in the business simulation, students had to pass an entrance test. On the one hand, this test ensured that all students had read the participant manuals and were prepared for the game. On the other hand, this test was also used as a part of the final grade.
The seminar started with a test round – though the students didn’t know it was a test. After this first round, the players had the chance to correct their decisions if necessary. In this way, the students were able to get to know the simulation and understand the interface. This was followed by the usual rounds in the TOPSIM – Cloud.
Learning by Doing
The simulation-based seminar was linked to the lecture “Introduction to Strategic Management”, which the students attended at the same time. Prof. Louw from Rhodes University used content from the simulation in his lecture to illustrate the theoretical inputs. Mr. Temme evaluated each game period via Zoom and also linked his analysis with the contents of the lectures. These feedback sessions were thematically structured and provided additional input on all relevant topics of the corporate environment and the business functions. In this context, the students were given the opportunity to use management tools such as PESTEL, 5-Forces or SWOT analysis.
In addition to the entrance test, the lecturers rated the participants’ success in the business simulation by using the accumulated equity. At the end of the seminar, a shareholder’ meeting was held and each group had to give a final presentation and anwer the following questions:
the groups had to give a final presentation. In a kind of general meeting, the groups answered, among other things:
- What was our initial plan?
- Did the plan work?
- Why was it that the strategy didn’t work out?
- What would we do differently next time?
- What did we learn from it?
This allowed the teams to reflect on their decisions and learn from their mistakes.
Why TOPSIM – easyManagement?
TOPSIM – easyManagement was a perfect fit for this seminar because of its lower complexity. Students from China study International Event Management, therefore business administration was rather a new topic for them. Due to the high diversity within the groups, there were no major problems during the seminar. On the contrary: the participants were very motivated to learn. The players were able to improve their management skills significantly by using them in the simulation and also developed a better understanding of the theoretical content discussed in the lecture.
Despite or perhaps because of globalization, the simulation-based seminar worked as intended. Many thanks to Mr. Temme for this exciting insight into an extraordinary seminar!