HOTS Business Simulation (UniSA)
Paul Reynolds | University of South Australia | Paul.Reynolds@unisa.edu.au
- Simulator: Ramsden Hotel Simulation
- Students: Postgraduate, internal students
- Class Size: 20-30
- Assessment: Business plan (30%), market analysis (30%), strategic plan (40%)
- Pedagogy: 10 week program or intensive one week block
Part of the Master of International Hospitality Management program offered in South Australia in conjunction with Le Cordon Bleu, the degree focuses on developing general management and leadership capabilities, immersed in a rich global perspective. Paul says
Working with a series of script writers and also academics developers to produce the hotel…it is part of a hotel chain. The chain is owned by a Chinese company, so part of the assessment and the organisational structure is looking at the well-organisation of the hotel. It is under management contract so you have to look at what are the needs of the owners, what are the needs of the group, and what are the needs of the actual hotel itself?
This purpose built human resource simulation was originally at the forefront of digital education. Revisions have been made since to remain current. Being a human resource focused simulation built eight years ago it is now able to be taught in a classroom environment or web based and has the ability to be utilised in both an individual or team environment.
The aims and objectives are to immerse students into the human resources structure of a large hotel and the overall structure of international hotel chains. Students are exposed to texts such as Becoming a Master Manager (Quinn, Faerman, Thompson, and MacGrath, 1996) in other units but draw on this knowledge to investigate the competing roles of managers and their qualities such as control, flexibility plus internal and external decision making. The unit titled Leadership and People is focused heavily of the human resources aspects of department managers and their roles.
The Ramsden simulation is flexible enough to be delivered in a variety of ways:
- 10 week program: During this time, the dissemination of compulsory information is given to students to understand the simulation itself, how decisions are to be interpreted and how to present their assessment tasks.
- One Week intensive block: This is for high intensive teaching or perhaps offered as a stand-alone in another location where time is limited.
‘Students are all international…a third from India and about a third from China’ says Paul. Being an internationally recognised course assists in the recruitment of students but students of any backgrounds enjoy the delivery of simulations. Students ‘loved to get immersed and I think that is a big thing’ says Paul even though there is no simulation winner. It is getting involved in the holistic view and retaining elements of other subjects to bring it all together.
‘Students learn what the implications are when they make a decision’ says Paul. This is an essential skill to have a manager and looking at long term forecasting is what the simulation can provide and ideally what the students can understand at the end.
Having three assessment tasks at a fairly high weighting is appropriate at the Masters level commented Paul. Assessment tasks are handed in and formal feedback is given in writing. Paul also highlighted that team work is not a main concern in this unit. Being a Program Director, he understands the issues associated with having team assessment tasks by stating:
The biggest complaint that I have from students is working in teams because several students say, I don’t mind failing on my own bat, whereas I don’t want to fail because some other [sic] student has made me fail.
Ramsden’s initial investment was by Le Cordon Bleu. Programming custom made simulation has its benefits such as creating a simulation to the client’s needs but can also be labour intensive and expensive. However, once the simulation has been created, there are little or no on-going costs therefore gaining economies of scale over time. Students are encouraged to read widely as there is no set text book for this unit and use the support of an online learning support system called Moodle. Moodle provides links to the library and other articles of interest that will assist with the assessment tasks. The facilitator must also have a strong knowledge of how the simulation operates.
‘The best things of using the simulation is that the students are interactive, they get engaged, as a lecturer you get enthused at the delivery’ says Paul. Having the ability to adapt the delivery of the simulation keeps both the lecturer and student motivated. Some students may view the simulation is a game but Paul says ‘with simulations, you don’t know what the students are going to come up with, what methodology there going to use….and that’s exciting’.