Peter Jordan, president and CEO of Knowledge Matters, in a recent interview with CIOApplications, shared insights on the impact that simulation can have on learning and the company’s simulation-based learning solutions, their go-to-market strategy, and future road map.
Please give us a quick overview of Knowledge Matters
Our core mission and competence lie in improving business education through simulations. We believe that simulation is a much-underutilized technique and method for learning. But that is rapidly changing. The proliferation of mobile devices and gadgets, and penetration of high-end connectivity among the masses and school environments facilitates quicker adoption of simulation-based learning methodologies. And that’s precisely what Knowledge Matters strives to do.
How can simulation augment learning? What is its real value proposition?
Traditionally, business simulations used to be just “numbers-in and numbers-out” models, because they were developed 30-40 years ago, to work atop mainframes and computers. Today, the technique of simulation has evolved, and they can be built using a bottom-up or a finite element model – where each little “aspect” or “object” can be modeled individually – be it customers, employees, or products on the shelf. We can track them in the virtual world and simulate them based on natural behavior, which students can “live-in and see.” Visually, we can present detailed, accurate visuals of the business in action. Such an approach can be ten times more engaging for learners and more lively than merely learning by hypothesis. While our courses look and feel like games, everything we put inside our simulation is based on real, solid pedagogy and learning goals that we have for students.
We’ve sold our product for high school to approximately ten thousand schools; that is about 50 percent of all high schools
Could you elaborate more on how your learning solutions differ from the rest of the offerings in the market?
One of the things we’ve come to understand in simulation and gamification is that for true success in teaching and learning, you can’t throw a completely open-ended virtual world in front of teachers and students, and hope they’d catch up just by playing around. What we have done is put together lessons that isolate the different pieces of larger problems that we are trying to teach so that students can practice them individually. It is almost like a chemistry experiment, where you’d try to hold all variables constant except one and see what difference it makes. For instance, in the course for say, running a business, there are multiple subset learning modules, such as marketing, sourcing, pricing, and personnel decisions. While running marketing simulations, our AI engines hold some factors constant while the students can manipulate others. Every element of the simulation is structured chapter wise. Teachers can reorder the concepts, and they can choose to include or exclude the concepts in any way. They can challenge students in any order they want and control the difficulty levels.
Could you give a quick overview of your courses for high school, college, and professionals?
Our product is used in approximately ten thousand high schools; that is about 50 percent of all high schools. The offering primarily involves introductory courses to business, entrepreneurship, and marketing, to name a few. Courses are also often rolled out by student clubs such as “Future Business Leaders of America.” Through these courses, students can get to know the disparate elements of business and finance without feeling like they are learning. Skills they would pick up are crafting financial statements, understanding supply and demand, basics of accounting, and more. In many cases, it is their first exposure to practical life scenarios and we have had students come and tell us how much our simulations have helped them gain an edge over their peers in acquiring jobs. We do host nationwide competitions where students from various clubs can come in and compete with each other.
For colleges, we have Case Simulations® in which students can immerse themselves in business environments and try out ideas. We have a couple of collections right now, on marketing and hospitality that are developed in consultation with respective industry experts. Our modules for colleges can be easily integrated atop LMSs such as Moodle and Canvas seamlessly. We will soon roll out a sports management simulation collection that will involve managing players, dynamic pricing models, ethics, and much more.
Our corporate learning simulation models, in addition to providing training to employees, double as a wonderful tool for HR evaluation. They help identify the strengths and weaknesses of employees, where they need improvements, and how they are developing their career path in the organization.
What does Knowledge Matters have in store for the near future?
One of the things on our agenda is international expansion. We do work with universities in about five continents, and we plan on strategically growing on that front. There is a tremendous opportunity out there, being able to train people all around the globe. For instance, the potential of rolling out entrepreneurship coaching in developing countries is vast, in terms of the societal impact. And we are headed in that direction.