During the CCCAOE conference, I had a unique visitor at my exhibitor table – Lupe Alvarado (pictured). Once all the delegates were in their sessions Lupe, our conference banquet server, came to me wanting to learn more about our simulations. She had been watching our projected display on business simulations all morning and approached me because she is worried about her 16-year-old high schooler who plays video games all the time. The amount of time her son was spending playing games is affecting his grades.
Watching our video on simulations, she quickly came to the conclusion that if her son can play an educational game instead, at least he might learn something from it.This was a stunning conclusion for someone with very little information about our simulations. At Yellow Sequoia, we are constantly engaging with educators, showing them how simulations can add value to their classroom and teaching experience. However, Lupe’s conclusion was not based on deep analysis or research; she knew from instinct because she knows her son.
Later in the day I was also approached by the security guard for the floor who wanted to buy our simulation for his kids. He bought his kids an iPad earlier this year and they loved the educational apps on it. Unfortunately his kids were in middle school, so a little too young to use our business simulations.
Nancy Shulock of IHELP, the keynote speaker at CCCAOE conference highlighted some very interesting ideas. She started reading out job titles like Social Media Manager, Data Scientist, Community Developer, Product Evangelist, etc. and asked the room, “How many of these courses exist at your college?” The ballroom reverberated with a stony silence for a full minute. Nancy related the experience of her nephew who undertook work training for 3 months and now manages a team of 50 people. Her story was focused on the fact that relevant on-the-job training made her nephew enabled him to gain the right experience that translated into a successful economic and professional career.
Funds equal to Ivy School education for 1 million students are wasted every year. According to the American Society for Training and Development $156 billion were spent on employee training in 2011. Not to forget, the employee time and effort spent on training – with little results to show for it all. Dr Eduardo Salas, a professor of organizational psychology at the University of Florida and a program director at its Institute for Simulation and Training, told Wall Street Journal that by the time the person gets a job, they lose 90% of what has been learned in training, only retaining 10%. If the skills are not used very quickly, there is a mammoth decay in the learning curve. Using simulations is a virtual platform to reinforce the lessons learned. “If you learn something and you don’t have the opportunity to practice, eventually you are going to lose it,” he said.
Corporate training agencies make their content flashy in hopes to make it stick. While that may be fun and interesting few hours, going back to the job employees ask, “What do I do now?” The single most important element of an effective training program is “How are you going to allow employees to practice? How are you going to provide feedback?” While this may seem obvious, very few organizations really pay attention to this. Dr Salas explains, “A simulation by itself isn’t enough. You also need very clear and precise learning objectives, clear feedback, a form of measurement or assessment and regular opportunities to practice and get feedback.” Designed to support business training, for Finance, Human Resources, Marketing and Management, Yellow Sequoia offers an array of simulations for a fertile field to practicing what has been learned in training.
Lupe and parents like her know their kids and can instinctively tell when something will be good for them. As educators we know how to teach and are experts are using education tools. However a lot of our knowledge is based on systems and pedagogy that is relevant to grading, testing and evaluations. Students are looking for instant feedback and interaction exactly like their games on XBox, Playstation or Nintendo Wii. Educators who cannot keep their students attention in class are likely to face more work in the classroom – both preparation and teaching.
Learning using a simulation is like jumping into a pool when you want to learn swimming. There is no fear of drowning. Practice your business skills in a safe environment without the fear of repercussions when you fail. That is why using a simulation makes so much sense – listen to the parents.