Enhancing Web-Based Simulations with Game Elements for Increased Engagement


  • David R. Rahn


A key challenge in online teaching is generating high levels of student engagement. Computer-based simulations, especially team-oriented competitive simulations, hold promise for accomplishing this objective. A web-based forms-based simulation engine designed to increase student engagement will be presented. A case study for a fictitious company is presented to student teams. Student teams then assume the role of consultants to management at the company. The general case is elaborated on in two areas for which student teams make decisions. The first is in the area of investments in business practices. The business practice decisions are typical of those found in the functional area of the knowledge domain. Participants read about the various practices and discuss them with team members. They also consider their team’s budget and after considering all relevant factors arrive at a suitable amount to invest in each particular practice. The second area where the case is further elaborated is in the area of decisions related to consulting incidents. The consulting incidents are designed to provoke discussion and debate among team members. After discussion is complete and all decisions are made, the simulation engine takes the decisions input by student teams and maps them to adjustments in key performance indicators (KPIs.) The KPIs have been selected for their applicability to a selected knowledge domain. As such they are typical of those a manager would use in guiding ongoing operations. Student teams then use the KPI results to guide subsequent decisions on investments in practices, as well as decisions on consulting incidents. A typical game concludes after eight sets of decisions. Engagement in this current model is accomplished via competition, team play, and discussion and debate surrounding incident scenarios and business practice decisions. This can be improved on by incorporating game elements. Game elements are identified by evaluating recreational computer games to identify features which are engaging to users. A collection of game elements will be discussed and a mapping of game elements to features in the form-based simulation will be proposed. A literature review IS cited and presented demonstrating support for the direction of this project.