Interactive learning games are a useful and engaging way of teaching key business skills to students. Now, with the advantage of smart technologies, we are seeing the implementation of Artificial Intelligence, resulting in the creation of a whole new educational playground.
What’s the idea behind these games?
In essence, these games can be understood as a simulation of real or believable business conditions, featuring situations and issues that must be resolved by the player or the team of players, developing their decision making and strategic planning skills. These skills are not just useful to this game, they are applicable to real-world problems and AI learning games can actually be tailored to the skills the student is looking to acquire. The more realistic a game and its situations can be, the better their skills can be tested, applied, and developed.
How do the students learn this way?
By being able to adapt to different environments, the brain is being trained to choose, enact, and follow various strategies. These strategies require the participant to critically assess all the conditions in order to maximize profit or minimize loss, which any business student should have a firm understanding of and be willing to manage.
As opposed to academic or didactic learning, where the students listen to and read academic and theoretical knowledge to acquire vast amounts of information, interactive games exist in the realm of experiential learning. In experiential learning, knowledge is acquired not just through reading and listening, but also through the transformational qualities of experience. To be clear, the two concepts do not oppose one another but work well hand in hand, with academic learning providing the theory and experiential learning delivering the opportunity to apply it. Experiential learning, however, will develop more managerial-type skills and give the learner better experience in realistic scenarios.
Most business simulation games and exercises will tackle at least one of these four concepts:
- Gather resources
- Develop an industry
- Ensure continual growth (of units or resources)
- Limit competitors (block resources or conquer competitors)
Playing the game until the end
Interactive learning games that use AI to teach business skills are truly taken advantage of when the players or participants make it to the end, win or lose. This doesn’t mean it should be completed in one session, as that is not the nature of the business world, in fact, some business simulations could go on for weeks or months in order to be most similar to the real world and give participants the opportunity to pause and reflect. The software employed should be tracking all the steps being taken so that at the end the impacts and choices of strategies can be assessed. It’s also vital that players stick to the rules.
The difference with AI, as opposed to interactive learning games that don’t employ AI, is that an intelligent computer adversary is used to replicate human behavior and try to defeat or overcome the human player’s skills.
Five reasons why these interactive games will come out on top
As we make the point that AI interactive learning games for business are effective and engaging, we must point out that they come with other benefits that help learners too. Here are the top 5:
- Global learning opportunities – AI business simulations and games can be shared over the internet, meaning students around the world can have a sense of equal opportunity
- Reporting and assessments – These games track your movements and performance and are often able to give you a report of how you’ve done. This feedback might be more useful, accurate, and actionable than from a human counterpart
- Interesting content – The AI technology can come up with scenarios and situations that human developers might not consider, giving a new level of depth to the learning opportunity
- Personalization – You know how Netflix learns what you like to watch and suggests similar content to you? That’s their AI in action. The AI within interactive learning games will learn how you move and think and behave and that will make situations and decisions all the more challenging, allowing you to break out of your comfort zone and truly build on your skills. The other side of this is ‘diagnostic testing’ which is where an AI model assesses what you do and don’t know about the topic or situations and redesigns itself to meet your learning needs
- Speed and efficiency – an analogue business learning game in the classroom could be slow, inefficient, and imbalanced for participants. Whilst the theory is the same, modern learners crave immediacy and rapid-fire response opportunities.
Why lecturers and educators should use AI
AI is not here to take the jobs or roles of those in the education industry, rather, it should be viewed as an asset or opportunity system, something that can empower educators. AI-assisted teaching is far more conceivable than AI-led classrooms, mostly because most learners want a human point of reference rather than a digital display to interact with.
One issue that teachers have struggled with since education began is personalizing the content to all of the participants – it’s almost impossible, especially if you have 20, 30, or even 40 students in a class. However, with the use of AI, tailoring the learning opportunity to each student can be done very quickly and thus creates a very adaptive and accommodating environment for students.
There are many skills, however, that humans do much better than AI, such as teaching from experience, making cognitive connections, building social relationships, talking fluidly out loud, using bodies and gestures, improvisation. All these skills can be effective in passing on knowledge to students that will prepare them for interactive learning games, at which point, educators can sit back and observe.