VirBELA, which won start-up funding from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) in an international competition to spur management education innovation, is a 3-D immersive virtual world created specifically to increase international collaboration among business students and to provide them with opportunities to work on multi-national teams. In October 2013, Rady will launch VirBELA by hosting a Global Business Simulation Competition and will award $50,000 USD in prize money.
The Rady School of Management at UC San Diego is proud to announce the start of student recruitment for a Global Business Simulation Competition to be hosted using the new innovative learning platform, VirBELA.
“We are excited for the VirBELA launch and hope to be able to offer opportunities for many more students from various locations and universities to connect via VirBELA in the months following the inaugural competition,” said Alex Howland, co-founder and program manager of VirBELA.
“Students will be able to interact within an amazing virtual environment, which provides all kinds of new ways to break down cultural barriers, re-imagine collaboration, and provide faculty ways to deliver coursework and grade results,” said Allen Brandt, director of GMAC's Management Education for Tomorrow (MET) Fund. “VirBELA is precisely the sort of innovation that GMAC and the MET Fund seek to support in our effort to move management education forward by giving back.”
The Business Simulation involves eight teams of four, competing in a simulated automobile manufacturing industry. Each team will manage an automobile company with the objective to build sales, improve profitability and maximize shareholder value by making quarterly inputs over 16-20 virtual quarters. Members of each team will be globally distributed and all from different schools. They will rely on the VirBELA technology to collaborate and compete, which includes avatars, a VoIP system, a text chat system, and 3D visuals of company assets. For example, teams will be able to see their inventory for each of their product lines.
“VirBELA provides an opportunity for students to learn about the benefits and challenges of leading distributed multinational teams in a low risk, fun atmosphere. By participating, students will be provided with just-in-time learning, have their performance observed and gain valuable insights with personal coaching,” said Robert Sullivan, dean of the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego.
While the competition will challenge students' business knowledge, instruction will focus more on team processes rather than “hard skills.” It will be expected that participants enter the competition with knowledge regarding strategy, reading a balance sheet, the basics of supply chain management, etc., but not all competitors will have had prior experience working on a global team.
The competition has already attracted applicants from some of the world's most prestigious business schools, including the London Business School, the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, INSEAD, the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad, Nanyang Business School in Singapore, the Wharton School of Management and IPADE, as well as the Rady School of Management.
Each team will be provided with a professional facilitator who will observe team behavior in real time and lead various debrief sessions throughout the competition. The facilitator will work with teams around decision making processes, conflict management, and to identify some of the benefits and challenges of working on a virtual multi-cultural team.
VirBELA is funded by a $1.7 million USD grant from the Graduate Management Admission Council's (GMAC) MET Fund Ideas to Innovation (i2i) Challenge, which identified 20 ideas to improve management education and awarded $7.1 million USD in grants to turn the winning ideas into reality. Howland and VirBELA co-founder Ronald Rembisz are the only double winners in the i2i Challenge, for the virtual world idea itself and then for its implementation. The implementation award was made to VirBELA in collaboration with the Rady School of Management and Rembisz & Associates.
“The technologies and methodologies for virtual learning and collaboration will continue to evolve and develop. VirBELA will be on the leading edge of these developments, incorporating them into simulations, serious games, and interactive learning events and activities. Individual and team assessment and development will be enhanced as we pioneer and innovate in the virtual world of VirBELA,” said Ron Rembisz, co-founder of VirBELA.