How One Marketing Professor Motivates Business Students with Simulations
Our innovative educators series highlights professors using original & refreshing teaching approaches in their classes.
How can you effectively prepare business students to face the challenges of running a company in the real world? For Marketing Professor Anita Basalingappa at MICA The School of Ideas, it’s making sure students truly understand both concepts and context enough so they can hit the ground running when they enter the workforce. To do this, she uses a variety of teaching methods, which motivate and excite her students to learn.
Professor Basalingappa teaches various strategic marketing and brand management courses at MICA and other institutions. One thing that remains a constant in her courses is helping her students innovate their own learning processes.
“When there’s a possibility for students to be self-driven, an incentive such as a reward or recognition can become a trigger for students' involvement and engagement in the learning process. The incentive becomes a very important aspect for innovation."
Real industry experience for business students – not always so easy to acquire
In certain professions such as medicine or law, students can shadow a professional and get practical, real hands-on experience right from the get-go. However, Anita notes that in business, internships can only teach so much, and often students aren’t exposed to strategic decision making or confidential company information and insights.
Anita explains how business students can get real industry experience
That’s why she uses a combination of case studies, projects, and simulations in her courses to emulate realistic market conditions so her students can gain valuable business insights that will help them on-the-job.
Simulations – a step above other learning tools
While case studies and assignments can help put relevant context to certain marketing theories, Professor Basalingappa likes using business simulations such as Digital Markstrat and BOSS, because these experiential learning tools take learnings a step above, and as she states “are the closest to mimicking real life” in the classroom. Since students get to run a company in a simulated environment, it evokes immersive learning experiences like in the real world. They also get live feedback based on the decisions they make, something that can't be done with case studies.
“Students get immediate feedback to what is happening, there is an element of assuming a position and taking decisions. It also links conceptual clarity alongside contextual familiarity which is the objective of all of my courses.”
Building self-driven learners
Professor Basalingappa likes to find out what innately drives her students and models her lessons around that. "If there is an intrinsic or extrinsic incentive that can help them work towards the learning goal, that becomes a very important aspect for innovation."
She has found that simulations provide a unique opportunity for students to be self-driven. Students tend to take the simulation challenge and own it. The success of learning lies in the student's own abilities and motivation within the simulation. And they can see the impact from their results.
She also encourages her students to learn from their mistakes, having them analyze their decisions and figure out what went right or what went wrong on their own. "I prefer to act as a guide, not to give them direct inputs "oh this was right, oh that was wrong." This builds their own confidence on how to deal with the types of business situations they will face in their careers.
The competitive element to simulations also seems to push students to operate at a higher level, she has found.
Anita describes how simulations enhance case studies & boost student drive
Why she uses Digital Markstrat and BOSS in her courses
Many business students are digital-savvy, but they don't quite grasp strategy. This is one of the big reasons that Professor Basalingappa loves using Digital Markstrat in her marketing strategy courses. She believes it's a great way to give students a chance to synthesize all of their learnings. They have to make top-level decisions in finance, production, pricing, and students see what happens at the VP marketing level. She also likes how Digital Markstrat teaches students that marketing can be used as a profit center, not solely a revenue center.
Explaining the power of Digital Markstrat
She abides by the Blue Ocean Strategy to teach innovation and strategy concepts, and thinks students can learn a lot from reading the books themselves, but it's the BOS Simulation that is "the cherry on the cake" as she puts it. She likes how the simulation allows participants to actively apply Blue Ocean Strategy concepts in a realistic scenario.
"When you are talking about application, you need to see what it means to apply the strategies mentioned in the book. Of course there are company examples mentioned, but the BOS simulation gives you hands-on practice, if you are trying to understand in a retail set up and how do you actually employ the tools and make the decisions, and how do those decisions make an impact on the market. and the learning is immediate."
Her tip to fellow instructors - Give simulations a try!
Anita recommends using a wide variety of teaching approaches, but as an ardent user of simulations, she believes instructors who have not yet given simulations a try that it is worth it, especially for those who use case studies.
"It does require a bit of effort to learn at the beginning from the professor's side, but after that it's a cake walk!"
She also believes that it's important that instructors take on a facilitative role, that you tend to see students learning and applying what they learned incredibly well in a more collaborative context.
More about the simulations Professor Basalingappa uses in her courses:
Digital Markstrat is a digital marketing simulation that is built on the renowned model of the number one strategic marketing simulation Markstrat, while combining key learnings from the digital era.
- Blend digital and traditional marketing strategy
- Manage traditial & digital sales and distribution strategies
- Learn how digital marketing can be a profit center
Learn more about Digital Markstrat
BOSS (Blue Ocean Strategy Simulation)
BOSS is the perfect immersive learning tool to implement Blue Ocean theory and understand how it works in a real business context.
- Create new market space with Blue Ocean Strategy methodology
- Grow an industry by growing demand
- Reconstruct market boundaries
- Adopt an innovative mindset
Learn more about BOSS