Blended Learning with TOPSIM at HAWK

At the University of Applied Sciences and Art (HAWK), professionals can complete the Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration alongside their work. Since the part-time courses takes place in blended learning formats, the students have a lot of flexibility. Their learning experience is optimally supported by the use of TOPSIM – easyManagement and TOPSIM – General Management. In this blog article, course director Prof. Dr. Zulia Gubaydullina tells us how these business simulations are used and what benefits they offer for part-time studies.

The course teaches focuses specifically on skills needed in professional life. The classic contents of business administration such as human resources management, taxation and accounting, marketing, investment and financing are covered. In a standard study period of nine semesters, online studies and face-to-face events alternate. The course is practical, interactive and individually structured and this is exactly where the TOPSIM Business Simulations perfectly fit in. In the first semester the students first play the beginner’s business simulation TOPSIM easyManagement and then later in the fifth semester the much more complex TOPSIM General Management.

Introduction to Business Administration with TOPSIM – easyManagement

In the first semester of the course, TOPSIM easyManagement is used with around 40 students as part of the “Introduction to Business Administration” module. In this module, students are first introduced to the essential concepts and context of business administration. The theoretical knowledge covered is then supplemented by a practical introduction using the TOPSIM easyManagement.

In six periods, participants not only get to know the basics of business administration but also their fellow students better and thus get an optimal start to their studies. The introduction to the simulation and the first round, as well as the award ceremony, take place as part of a face-to-face event. The teams then independently organize their meetings, which can take place both virtually or “offline”. Every week there is an online plenary session in which evaluations are discussed and feedback for the previous round is given. If students have any questions, the seminar leader can also provide assistance via online sessions. When using TOPSIM easyManagement, HAWK does not implement any additional tasks as the focus is on getting to know the various company areas.

Applying theoretical knowledge with TOPSIM – General Management

In the fifth semester, the students are again confronted with the concept of the business simulation, but with a significantly higher level of complexity. In the business simulation module they play TOPSIM General Management, where they have to apply knowledge from previous modules. Here, too, the kick-off event with the first period takes place as a face-to-face event. The fourth period, in which there is a major change in the business simulation scenario, and the last period, followed by the final discussion and award ceremony, also take place as an “offline” event. In between there are weekly online sessions with the lecturer and the teams organize themselves for their meetings.

The learning effect of TOPSIM General Management is reinforced by additional tasks. Here, for example, a strategy development, an expert report for the company, an annual report or a reflection report on the simulation and presentations from the departments are required from the students. Additional theory inputs from the lecturer are also possible, for example if there are gaps in students’ knowledge.

The evaluation of this module is made up of various components. In addition to the performance in the simulation, both individual performances and group work are included in the grade:

  • Share price in the simulation game (10%)
  • Group work: Presentation of the company divisions (15%)
  • Group work: Reflection report for each period (40%)
  • Individual performance: Management report, reflection on one’s own area in the company (35%)
  • 2-sided elaboration for strategy development (pass / fail)

What advantages do the simulation have for part-time studies?

Although students of this course are already working and thus already have practical experience, the TOPSIM Business Simulations offer additional value. In the simulation, participants are in the role of the board of directors and thus in a new situation for them too. They have the opportunity to apply knowledge from their studies and jobs in a simulated and risk-free environment and at the same time gain new knowledge from the perspective of corporate management. In addition, the TOPSIM General Management is also used to bring all theoretical modules together and put them into practice.

Since this is a blended learning course in which around 80% of the course is completed online, the social aspects should not be neglected either. TOPSIM easyManagement is used for team building and getting to know each other right from the start of the course. In the complex simulation TOPSIM General Management, teamwork and, above all, successful communication in groups are particularly important.

The combination of two TOPSIM Business Simulations with increasing complexity thus optimally supports students in internalizing the knowledge they have learned, taking a new perspective, building social relationships and training soft skills.

We would like to thank Prof. Dr. Zulia Gubaydullina for this insight in her seminar concept and look forward to further simulation-based seminars at HAWK!

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