This month, we introduced Zodiak® Virtual, a virtually-delivered version of our classroom business acumen simulation, Zodiak: The Game of Business Finance and Strategy®.
During design and testing, we learned seven important lessons about what is most critical to our success:
Instead of just converting the classroom experience, we realized we needed to transform the simulation in ways that retained critical learning objectives and the overall “feel” of the experience while adapting delivery mechanisms and facilitation to address the opportunities and limitations of a virtual platform.
While it was important to consider client preferences, it was equally important to ensure that the platform would allow us to do what was needed to integrate a game/simulation design. For example, we needed to give administrator rights to each learner to be able to control some of the game movements. Without that function, we would run the risk of losing learner involvement and the “fun feel” of a game.
Lecture can be deadly boring in a virtual setting. So can small team activities that are not meaningful or engaging enough to hold attention. Our game design forces learners to make joint decisions about how to run the simulated company, come up with the best answers to questions posed by investors, and work together to see how well they accomplished their financial and strategic objectives by the end of each year of play.
Our classroom business simulation generally lasts 6-7 hours. That would be a very long time in a virtual environment. Generally, 1.5 to 2-hour modules are the gold standard for virtual delivery. We redesigned our classroom simulation into two 2-hour modules with a focus on retaining its power as a financial and business literacy program.
Facilitators need to bring their best classroom facilitation skills to the virtual environment, and more. Energy, clear articulation, passion for the subject, comfort with delivery, and patience are needed in abundance. They also need to multitask, have great attention to detail, understand the technology, and be able to steer learners to collaborate at a distance. Facilitators must have the desire, the ability to change some previous approaches, and the willingness to practice.
There are bound to be problems as learners use their personal computers. At the same time, in our game design, it is vital to have the right materials show up in each small team’s “room” at the right time. A successful facilitator must focus on the learning experience and his/her learners. Technical support, therefore, is a necessity.
Extending the learning beyond the virtual delivery is essential. Pre-session materials need to get learners excited and provide enough information about the session so that they are ready to learn. Post-session extensions need to include resource materials and a mechanism for applying the learning on the job.
Paradigm Learning’s transformation of Zodiak to a virtual platform has been a challenging but rewarding experience. We now have a virtual business acumen offering that meets client needs during this time of social distancing, while also providing a game-based learning experience that engages, energizes, and educates their learners. Discover more about Zodiak® Virtual here!