Especially in times of the Corona crisis, many universities have to switch to online learning and adapt their learning programs to the new reality. The Kiel University of Applied Sciences already has a lot of experience in distance learning due to online bachelor’s degrees since 2011. In this article, Prof. Dr. Gordon Eckardt shows how online education works and how business simulations can be integrated in online teaching.
At the Kiel University of Applied Sciences, you can enroll for the distance learning course Bachelor of Business Administration. Students from near and far learn together via various online courses. There are also forums and video conferences to organize self-study. Usually, even the distance learning course requires several classroom sessions to get to know each other personally, but also to write exams, for example.
Everything goes online
Since Corona, the distance learning and the face-to-face courses, has been offered remotely. This means, unfortunately, the students miss all the face-to-face introduction seminars. If you get to know each other personally at the beginning of the course, communication works better. However, with online learning there is no longer a chance to hide in the back rows of the lecture hall – Prof. Dr. Eckardt recommends that everyone should use their webcam in meetings as it is much more personal.
With Moodle, a learning management system, the university covers a large part of its online work. Students can browse forums and wikis or exchange ideas about group work. Zoom or Adobe Connect are also used to communicate.
How are business simulations integrated in online education?
In the fourth semester of the online course or in the fifth of the classroom course, TOPSIM – General Management is the capstone course. The business simulation covers all areas of teaching and is used so that students can synthesize and demonstrate what they have learned.
10-20 (online) or 80-130 (classroom) students take part in the business simulation. Even more attention than usual should be paid to team sizes when playing online: teams should be made up of not more than 4 participants, in order to make the decision-making processes easier. In the business simulation, the students get a test round at the beginning to understand the simulation and the platform. In the ‘real’ simulation, the decisions must then be made within a certain schedule, after which the teams receive feedback by email about the results and the ranking. There are also video conferences during the seminar, where the teams can temporarily go to “breakout rooms” and the seminar instructor can join and leave individual rooms, similar to classroom lessons.
In the course, there are additional tasks, such as reflections, SWOT analyzes or working out a strategy. This must also be presented – now via Adobe Connect or Zoom instead of a seminar room on site. The tasks and the success in the simulation make up 50% of the group performance, plus an intermediate exam as an individual performance. The whole module is finally graded.
Challenges and benefits
Thanks to the experience of the online degree program, Prof. Dr. Eckardt sees no major challenges in switching classroom to remote teaching formats. It works better than anticipated because the students understand the unexpected situation. Overall, everything is much more dynamic. He also advises switching to the TOPSIM – Cloud. You have to get used to the platform a bit, but it makes everything more comfortable because the students can work independently. For all teachers who are new to online teaching, Prof. Dr. Eckardt recommends: “Simply let it go!”
We thank Prof. Dr. Eckardt for his insight into the online teaching and look forward to successful new concepts and projects in the future!