Business School Gamification

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Monday, April 25, 2016
By Elliot Davis
Business schools are using gaming in their curriculum to deliver material in ways that are both engaging and fun for their students.

Electronic gaming has come a long way since the days of Atari’s Pong. Today, game designers have entered into entirely new marketplaces—such as education. The educational market is one that appears ripe for expansion. There are games for young children, which can teach skills such as typing and reading. But there are more sophisticated endeavors, as well, some of which are at use in the world’s top universities. Business schools use gaming in their curriculum to deliver material in ways that are both engaging and fun for their students. Some schools have gone above and beyond, using gaming (or gamification) in ways that are both innovative and inspiring. The following is a set of schools that have done just that, incorporating some element of gaming into their programs.

Transformative Learning

Manchester, University of, Alliance Manchester Business School (United Kingdom)

Alliance Manchester Business School has worked to create a greater level of interactivity within the classroom through gamification. The school has employed this approach in a number of initiatives both within and beyond the classroom, working with and for the benefit of stakeholders and the local community. In 2014, in collaboration with Dr. Paula Owen, founder of eco-action games, a pilot workshop on gamifying sustainable choices was developed as part of the University of Manchester’s Ethical Grand Challenge (EGC). The workshop demonstrated how, through games, individuals could learn how to change their behavior to reduce their environmental impact. In 2015, following funding from the Higher Education Investment Fund, the same approach was used to promote sustainability literacy with community stakeholders

Feedback from the EGC workshop showed how students overwhelmingly enjoyed the games, learned new actions, and were inspired to make relevant changes to their behavior to benefit the environment. Further, feedback from community stakeholders suggested that the alternative learning method catalyzed behavioral change in their constituents.

Accounting Challenge (ACE)

Singapore Management University, Lee Kong Chian School of Business (Singapore)

ACE is a mobile-learning app developed by Singapore Management University’s School of Accountancy. Students enhance their accounting knowledge in a fun way through fast-paced questions and answers. ACE aims to enhance learning of accounting outside the classroom by engaging students to play and learn accounting on the go.

Players earn points through answering questions correctly, and even more points if they do so quickly. They are also able to review their responses to learn from their mistakes. Students can post their scores to an online leaderboard to compete with their peers.

As of September 2015, the total number of downloads for ACE was 17,772, spanning 90 countries. ACE was awarded the 2015 American Accounting Association (AAA) Innovation in Accounting Education Award.

Fox Immersion Program

Temple University, Fox School of Business and Management (United States)

The Fox Immersion Program implements gamification in a more pure form, through competition and leaderboards, which encourage engagement through the duration of the exercise. Throughout the program, each class level is aimed at strengthening a particular skill set of the participants, with a distinctive theme. First-year student’s focus on their engagement with the school itself, sophomores concentrate on professional development, juniors serve the community, and seniors take on leadership roles with the program and school.

For each level of the program, students’ participation in the various events is catalogued, and the top participants for each level of the program are rewarded with an opportunity that embodies the theme of that particular level of the program. The most engaged first-year students had a luncheon with the deans. The most engaged sophomores were invited to a private lunch with recruiters from key employers. The most engaged juniors met with senior-level representatives from the school’s corporate partners. The most engaged seniors were invited to the Fox Board of Visitors lunch.

The results of this program have improved every year, with more students participating and more activities being offered. Students appreciate the gamification of the point system and compete to have the highest points each year.


Adolfo Ibanez University, School of Business (Chile)

Felipe Walker and Bernardo Pagnoncelli are professors in the area of Operations at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez and are also the founders of GameLab. The two professors recognized that they needed a better means of motivating their students than flashy slide presentations. Together, they founded GameLab, a simulation-oriented digital game that allow students to make decisions in a simplified but still realistic environment. The experience establishes a harmonic relationship between technology and knowledge. The games are designed to last between one to three hours, and can be played with any number of students between eight and 80. Instructors can manage the games by themselves, serving as facilitators, designing challenging scenarios that allow the students to learn the desired concepts, and coordinating the post-game discussions in which the players analyze their strategies and debate whether they could have done better. Students can access to the games through almost any smart device, including notebooks, tablets, and smartphones.

About Innovations That Inspire

These examples are part of a larger collection of Innovations That Inspire. From October 15 through November 20, 2015, AACSB member schools were invited to share ways in which they have challenged the status quo. Nearly 300 innovations were submitted from more than 200 institutions across 35 countries—an array of inspirations that illustrates an impressive commitment to engagement, innovation, and impact. Thirty of these innovations were initially highlighted at the 2016 Deans Conference and are currently available for public browsing.

Elliot Davis
Director of Data Strategy, AACSB International
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