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May 2014 Update: Marketing, Finance & Accounting and Public Relations

Please note that the links in this post are no longer active.


  • Upcoming training event on simulations in business and marketing - why attend?

  • Highlights from the UWE auditing simulation event.

  • Upcoming summer school - Women in PR in Europe.

  • Update on the Social Sciences strategic priorities.

  • Meet the Social Sciences team online events.

Upcoming Masterclass - Using simulations in business and marketing education (May 14, Birmingham)

I am very much looking forward to our Masterclass, Using simulations in Business and Marketing education (Birmingham, May 14) and I hope you might consider joining us. I have been using simulations in Marketing for the past 20 years and have found them to be powerful tools for engaging students with learning. One of the greatest benefits of simulations is that they require students to integrate such a large number of decision areas and to see the interconnectedness of functional areas such as marketing, finance, human resources and production. In most marketing games, for instance, students make decisions related to segmentation and positioning, the product portfolio, product features for different market segments, pricing, channel strategy, promotion, budgeting, customer service, investment and production.

To improve their decision making, they need to understand key concepts and theories related to these topical areas and to use (and develop) their numerical and financial skills. Since most simulations today are internet based, they are ideal for both distance and classroom learning. They are also easier for lecturers to use and generally come with significant lecturer support. Student teams can work on their strategies and make their decisions at a time suitable to members of the group and as long as their decisions are input by a deadline set by the lecturer, there is no need to be in the classroom. Once all the teams decisions are entered, students get almost immediate and very detailed feedback. For example, in a game I used recently, students were able to access a detailed market outlook for the upcoming period, both income statements and balance sheets showing their performance, a range of competitor data, and a number of market research reports. While market and financial data are free, the students need to “pay” for research and competitor reports, so this forms part of their budgeting decision. What are the key benefits of simulations?

  • Allow students to act, perform and engage, rather than passively absorb information;

  • Are enjoyable so students are motivated to learn and keep on learning;

  • Provide on-going formative feedback about their progress, so they can improve their decisions as time goes on;

  • Enable them to take part in and benefit from collaborative learning;

  • Address a breadth of course learning outcomes;

  • Develop skills valued by employers such as team work, communication, problem solving and analysis skills;

  • Allow students to build on their prior knowledge, to transfer knowledge learned in other modules and contexts and to make links between theory and practice; and

  • Represent a real-world task that simulates work they may one day be involved with.

At our upcoming workshop, delegates will have the opportunity to try two simulation games for themselves. Simventure is an entrepreneurship simulation that allows students to run and grow their own virtual company. Decisions are made in simulated monthly cycles in all areas of business (organisation/human resources, sales and marketing, finance, and operations). There is a great deal of online help for the students and they receive feedback to see the consequences of their decisions after each round. The challenge is to generate enquiries, sales and orders and build a successful company. The game comes with a great deal of support for tutors as well and training from the company itself. Simventure is run by a UK entrepreneur, Peter Harrington, who has kindly agreed to spend the day with us on May 14. The game is used in business schools across the UK and elsewhere in business, small business and entrepreneurship modules.

The game can be used at all levels - in the first year to give students a flavour of the decision areas that make up a business or in postgraduate modules that focus on entrepreneurship. Markstrat was first developed at INSEAD in the 1970s and is now used across the world under the Stratx brand. The simulation comes in two versions: B2B (Mechatronics) and B2C (Cosmetics) and is generally used in a final year marketing strategy or B2B modules and in postgraduate programmes. The simulation is entirely internet based and comes with an enormous package of support for tutors, including assistance in how to provide advice to student teams, what to advise them on, and how to assess them. Stratx has also introduced a new game, BrandPRO, with a particular focus on branding and positioning decisions. They also have a business strategy game – BOSS. Stephanie Zanon, licensing director for Stratx, is flying over from France to attend the simulation event and to take delegates through the B2C version of Markstrat. Answers to your questions about simulations Those who are new to using simulations often have a lot of questions

  • What is the best game for my module and the level of my students?

  • What learning outcomes can games deliver?

  • How should I structure the simulation and how long should it run?

  • How large should the teams be?

  • What will I need to learn in order to be effective in guiding the students?

  • How steep is the learning curve and how much time will it take me to become proficient in running the game?

  • How much does it cost?

  • How should I assess student learning on the game?

The May 14 simulation event is designed to answer these and other questions and to give those who are new or newish to simulations a sense of confidence about using them. For an agenda and to sign up, please click on this link.

Auditing simulation event, April 14

As noted in previous blogs, simulations are also available for Finance and Accounting. In April, I attended a simulation workshop hosted by Susan Whittaker and Glen Duckworth at the University of the West of England on their development and use of an auditing simulation. The simulation has also been successfully piloted at the University of Worcester and Leeds Metropolitan. The students are exposed to a ‘virtual reality’ company built in a Second Life format. The students take on the role of company auditors and are required to ‘interview’ a number of different employees in the company. The characters are really quite fantastic and well developed. Students try to assess the key risks and to make recommendations. At all three Universities, members of a large local accounting firm is invited in to either act as mentors to the students as they play the game or to take part in their final presentations and discussions. What a superb way to make auditing come alive! For more information and to see how you could use this simulation in your teaching, please contact either Susan Whittaker or Glen Duckworth.

News from the Community of Practice in Public Relations and Digital Media: Summer School July 2014 - Women in PR in Europe

Dr Liz Yeomans, together with partners from LMU-Munich and Istanbul University, is hosting an Erasmus-funded intensive programme (summer school) in July 2014. Entitled Women in PR in Europe (WIPRE), the programme sits within the WIPRE project, which is part of the European Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) The summer school is designed to address the 'gender gap' in PR by examining the social, cultural and professional issues that create a gender imbalance and to equip students with the knowledge and skills to aspire to leadership roles. In the UK, for example, while 64% of the PR profession is female-dominated, males are twice as likely to report occupying senior level roles (e.g. owner, director) and are likely to earn more when performing the same roles as their female counterparts (CIPR, 2014). Liz says "The summer school will involve a range of learning activities over 2 weeks that will involve guest speakers, discussions, site visits as well as scholarly research. Students' research papers - developed at the summer school - will be disseminated on the project's dedicated website and linked to the EUPRERA WIPRE page. It should be fun too: we expect Leeds Met students to organise the social side of the programme together with fellow students from Munich and Istanbul." For more information, please contact Liz on

Strategic priorities - HEA Social Sciences Team

We will soon be reporting on the work done over the past year on our Social Sciences strategic priorities. Earlier in this academic year we invited expressions of interest from colleagues working in all subscribing institutions to work with us to address the issues relating to our five strategic priorities. Details of these funded projects can be accessed via the links below:

  1. Active and experiential learning in the Social Sciences

  2. Employability and global citizenship in the Social Sciences

  3. Teaching research methods in the Social Sciences

  4. Exploring the distinctive contribution of higher education to teacher education

  5. Supporting the future of legal education

Meet the Social Sciences team

Have you ever wondered what it is that we do in the Social Sciences team? You will have a chance to ask any question you like about our work and they ways in which we can support you at our upcoming, online, 'Meet the HEA Social Sciences team', 19 May 2014. The event will begin with an overview of current and future HEA Social Sciences work. Following this, you can move into virtual breakout rooms for smaller, discipline-focused group discussions. Feel free to join either the morning or afternoon session. Further details are available via the links below: Morning session Afternoon session.

Newsletters and upcoming events

For details on recent publications, funding opportunities and upcoming Social Science and HEA events, please see our newsletter. The newsletter can be accessed once you sign up at My Academy. A range of other newsletters on topics such as employability, flexible learning, internationalisation, assessment & feedback and funding opportunities, among others, are also available. For many of you, this is the exam and marking season, so very best wishes for a lot of great student work! Feel free to contact me (Lynn Vos). Also check out Richard Atfield's blog post for more news of interest to those teaching business related subjects. If you would like to comment on this blog post or ask any questions, please do so in the space below.

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