Integrating theory and practice in education with business games

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Neville, Karen
Adam, Frédéric
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Informing Science Institute
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Research Projects
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The meaningful integration of theoretical knowledge and industrial practice in Masters level programmes is now more than ever vital to ensure that graduates have the required competence in IT and that they are ready to contribute to the organisations that hired them within a short timeframe. It is also crucial in ensuring ongoing industrial support for academia because Information technology (IT) is regarded as a fundamental component in the success of organisations. This has led to a growing demand for IT specialists, sometimes with hybrid skills, to design, develop, implement, and support IT infrastructures in both the public and private sectors. However, in recent years there has been a shortfall of IT graduates, with essential experience entering the job market. In order to keep up with demand, educational institutions must adopt innovative programmes to increase the skill-set and knowledge base of their IT graduates. One such programme, under the auspices of University College Cork, is a Masters course in Management Information and Managerial Accounting Systems (MIMAS). The programme focuses on IT to suit the needs of industry while also combining IT with other theoretical subjects like managerial accounting and the design of management control systems. One key element of the teaching experience is a business simulation where students create software companies and bid for a large scale development project. As part of this, they experience of broad range of tasks and problems inherent in commercial software development. The business game is designed to encourage students to make use of as much of the theoretical elements taught in the degree as possible and is mediated by the teaching staff through the intermediary of a purpose-designed computer system. Our experience indicates the immense value of such practical components in an IT oriented degree programme. It also shows that the application of new technology in training and education will only truly benefit students when it is associated with high quality material and a high degree of student motivation.
Information technology (IT) , Management Information and Managerial Accounting Systems (MIMAS) , Business games , Business information systems , IT graduates , Information technology
Neville, K. and Adam, F. (2003) 'Integrating theory and practice in education with business games', Informing Science, 6, pp. 61-73.