Getting to know working life and economic contexts at an early stage is becoming increasingly important for students, and this is exactly what ALWIS helps with. In Saarland, the association offers all secondary schools the use of the business simulation TOPSIM – easyManagement.
ALWIS stands for ArbeitsLeben, WIrtschaft, Schule (Working Life, Business, School) and was founded in June 2003 to strengthen the links between schools and business. To do this, the business simulation TOPSIM – easyManagement is ideally suited, as students, together with their team members, take on the role of managing an outdoor and sporting goods company.
Business Simulation use in schools with ALWIS
ALWIS recommends the use of the business simulation from grade 10 onwards in schools, vocational training centers and high schools. It can be used in many subjects as well as interdisciplinarily, but it is usually used in social science and mathematics/economics subjects. ALWIS supports the schools in the implementation by training the instructors who guide the student groups through the business simulation and are available to answer questions. In addition, ALWIS prepares the business simulation documents and materials for implementation, which include presentations, glossaries and the relevant topics for the classroom. Furthermore, links to learning contents of different subjects are established as well as suggestions and tips for the integration of the game into the lessons are given.
The number of participants should be between 25 to 30 students, with four or five teams with six participants each formed. It has proven useful to run the business simulation on two consecutive days, but it can also be offered as part of a project week, for example.
Before the simulation rounds begin, a comprehensive introduction to the business simulation is given. Economic contexts and technical terms are explained. Usually between four and six periods are played, depending on the level of knowledge of the participants and the dynamics in the groups. The aim is to play as many periods as possible so that the students can immerse themselves as deeply as possible and make a variety of decisions, as well as learn about their consequences as developments in the virtual market.
Before each period, the instructors present the economic news for the upcoming game round and point out any special features. Afterwards, the groups have enough time to discuss and determine their decisions. After each decision round, they learn through evaluations and reports whether and to what extent their actions were successful.
An additional task between periods that the students particularly enjoy is the marketing competition. Here they have to work together to come up with a coherent marketing concept for their company, including a logo, slogan and company name, and then present it. The coaches act as a jury or bank and give feedback on the presentation. The company receives a prize. This additional task gives the participants an insight into the topic of marketing, allows them to develop creative ideas and trains them to present in front of a larger group.
Up to now, the business simulation TOPSIM – easyManagement has been used in schools in a classroom setting. Since face-to-face teaching is only possible to a limited extent at the moment, hybrid or completely virtual implementation of the business simulation is also possible through the TOPSIM – Cloud.
Benefits of a business simulation for students
TOPSIM – easyManagement is a business simulation that bridges the gap between theory and practice. It presents a realistic model of a company management and thus offers participants the opportunity to develop key qualifications (teamwork, decision-making skills), to gain practical experience in a risk-free and sustainable manner and to acquire business knowledge in an action-oriented manner.
Games are usually very well suited for conveying knowledge. On the one hand, the fun factor is added to learning, and on the other hand, the learning effect through doing is much greater than with purely theoretical teaching. Many students and teachers have little knowledge about business processes. The business simulation provides a practical and playful introduction to the subject. Curriculum content can also be made easier to understand with a direct reference to practice. – Carolin Bollow, ALWIS Saarland
Accordingly, the feedback from the many participants is almost always very positive. They particularly like the fact that they can work independently in the business simulation and make their own decisions. Working in a team, discussing possible strategies and making decisions together are very popular with the students. Many are also often surprised at how complex a company is structured and how many decisions have to be made. This ‘aha’ effect made them proud.
Last but not leas, the business simulations are also a small part in the students’ professional orientation.