IndustryPlayer - quality e-learning

By Murray Bourne, 17 Sep 2007

I've just had an enjoyable hour engrossed in the trial version of IndustryPlayer.

In this simulation, you are placed in the role of entrepreneur and your goal is to maximise profits. You start by creating a company and the system helps by giving you suggestions on the current most profitable industries. I chose "corn".

You then either expand your existing company or create a new company as the simulation proceeds.

IndustryPlayer

From IndustryPlayer's blurb:

Be a virtual Entrepreneur in control of a globally operating industry holding.

In real-time, you compete against hundreds of players from around the globe for profits and market share.

You have to make a decision every 2 minutes on whether to run the production lines.

I was playing against 18 other people in the corn industry. No-one was using the chat facility when I was playing.

You can borrow money to expand or buy new companies and in such circumstances, your credit rating drops. At each 2-minute turn, you get a new rating compared to your competitors in the same industry.

Quality

Why do I call it "quality" e-learning?

  1. The student is placed in a role
  2. The student needs to make decisions and learn from the consequences
  3. What the student does affects other players. What other players do affects the students' situation. It is therefore a complex and rich experience.
  4. The student gets immediate feedback on each decision made
  5. Information is presented in tables and charts, as well as text, addressing different learning (and business) needs
  6. The simulation contains explanations at each step. Each one is just a paragraph or two and easily digestible.

In summary, it follows the suggestions by Schank for 'world class e-learning'.

Cost

The first hour is free - then you need to pay so you can move up to the higher levels. The costs:

2 Game Levels 20.00 USD
5 Game Levels 30.00 USD

This seems quite high for an educational game. While it is an excellent simulation, most institutions will hesitate to require students to sign up to this.

Their business model should include a multi-user license (for say 100 students) aimed at institutions.

The higher levels are described as:

Levels 2 to 10 are even more realistic than the trial Level. You can join or found a Business Network (Trust) in order to increase your competitiveness. You may take over competitors and react to hostile take over bids, labour strike, disasters and much more. Every game level has 120 turns, which correspond to 10 business years, each with 12 months.

Gripes

This is a Windows-only application. You have to download it and install. The resolution is fixed at 800x600 pixels.

Seems to me that a better option would have been to use a Java applet. Then it would have been available to Mac users and it would have given more flexibility as regards screen resolution. It would be browser-based, so that the download and install steps would not be necessary.

Conclusion

IndustryPlayer has hit the nail on the head. It is an intelligent simulation that is engaging since it requires the user to make regular decisions and has elements of competition and collaboration.

For those educators wondering how to "do e-learning", have a look at IndustryPlayer.

I have played other business simulations and I found I was very lost (not having a business background). However, in this simulation, the provision of timely information was good and you did not need to read vast amounts of material to figure out what to do next.

Footnote 1: There is even a carbon trading system in the game. When is the real world going to fully embrace such a system?

Footnote 2: I did OK in the game. By the end, I had 3 companies and I up-sized one of them. I had turnover of $4 million and a credit rating of B-. I was rated "6th" out of my 18 competitors. My company's wealth was $26,247,552 and return on equity, 38.46%.

And I enjoyed it.

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