The GoVenture Idea Book is a compilation of discussion starters, interesting world facts, and teaching, writing, and study tips for teachers, youth, and adult learners. It provides the reader with information and tools that enhance training and learning techniques. The Idea Book accompanies several computer-based simulation games that teach aspiring entrepreneurs business skills, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and stock market investing, as well as life skills. The simulation games are designed so that the learner is taught how to run a lemonade stand (reviewed here), a restaurant, clothing store, or sporting goods store. The games are highly visual, interactive, learner-centered, and use an active, experiential methodology providing an opportunity for the learner to gain practical "on-the-job" business skills. In addition to the GoVenture Idea Book, GoVenture boasts a variety of other programs that teach essential business, financial literacy, work-, and life-skills concepts that allow the learner to absorb knowledge and directly apply it in a virtual setting.
The GoVenture Lemonade Stand Simulation is one of several educational games and simulations by GoVenture. The package includes the computer game software, software user's guide, the instructor's guide, the instructor’s learning guide and activities workbook, student’s learning guide and activities workbook, and the test bank, which includes questions related to learning in the game. The instructors’ guide contains background information on the Lemonade Stand package, including short descriptions on possible teaching approaches. The student’s learning guide and activities workbook include worksheets that are designed to further explain and reinforce the concepts in the simulation. The purpose of each worksheet and the expected learning outcomes are clearly stated at the top. Finally, the test bank asks questions to review how well students understand the concepts from the simulation.
The GoVenture Lemonade Stand Simulation package contains both instructors' and students' learning activities workbooks that are designed to accompany the business simulation and that clearly state the goal of the activity and the specific learning outcomes it will help students achieve. For example, the workbook activity on pricing explains the concept of cost plus pricing as well as market pricing. It then walks students through how to calculate these figures and presents brief (one- to two-sentence) scenarios with questions about how they would price their lemonade in those situations. The scenarios, particularly the more complex market pricing scenarios, often have multiple-choice answers.
In the simulation itself, the goal is clearly stated: It is to make as much money as possible. When starting a new simulation, the user creates a name for the business and chooses a logo. The main interface is simple and clear: The three areas requiring decisions (price, recipe, inventory) are along the bottom. The weather forecast appears near the top, to the upper-left of the picture of the lemonade stand. To the upper-right of the stand is a window that shows the following: cash flow, which ticks up as lemonade is sold, sales for the day, and total sales. During the simulation, people walk across the screen, pass the stand, and sometimes stop to buy lemonade; they sometimes leave comments that provide helpful feedback about price and taste. One day in the simulation takes less than a minute to run, and a clock at the lower right shows the passing time of the day. When the day finishes, a pop-up screen summarizes the value of sales and number of customers for the day, as well as total cash available. It also gives messages about any lost inventory (to help with inventory planning), and a bar graph at the right shows the total amount of money made since the business opened.
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The GoVenture Idea Book and simulation programs epitomize "cutting edge" learning for North American students. Computer simulation games transform the learning experience from the teacher to the individual. From one's computer, learners can become a CEO running a virtual business, a stock broker trading on a virtual exchange, or a manufacturer managing a virtual production line. GoVenture products are highly visual and interactive and learners are likely to feel both intellectually and emotionally engaged in the experience, as if they were personally living it. Learners must, however, have good computer skills and problem-solving skills and be comfortable with independent learning otherwise they could find the content overly complex and frustrating. GoVenture simulation products use a learning-by-doing approach which fosters independence, critical thinking and self-reliance—concepts which are grounded in a Westernized way of learning. The benefits to this approach are that learners build critical thinking and problem solving skills, in real-time (in the virtual sense) and important concepts in running and managing a business. In the Lemonade Stand example, decisions regarding how much to invest in raw materials, taking the weather into consideration, marketing techniques and the price point for the product can positively or negatively impact one's sales. A by product of this learning methodology is that the learner becomes exposed to running and managing a business without the risks involved in running a real business. While there are many benefits to this learning methodology, computer simulated games do not teach some important life-skills such as how to communicate or work collaboratively with customers or employees or other important ethics required in running a successful business. GoVenture has developed a wide array of products that include money management, personal finance, investment and trade and Accounting and have customizable education games. These are important life-skills which learners can learn in their own space and at their own pace.
The GoVenture Lemonade Stand Simulation is an interactive, fun, e-learning activity that introduces learners to basic business and entrepreneurial concepts. In the simulation, learners run a lemonade stand, and must make decisions about inventory, price, and product quality based on the weather, existing inventory, customer satisfaction and available cash. The supporting student learning guide and activities workbook offers additional explanations of concepts and provides worksheets to reinforce the ideas being learned through the simulation. Lemonade Stand is designed for elementary school students in North America but can be used for middle or high school students.
Some literacy and basic numeracy skills are required. The concepts could be adapted for use in other countries, and customization options are available. The simulation can be played as part of a course on entrepreneurship, or as part of a self-directed learning activity. It can also be played individually or with a group. The numerous options for use are a strength of the program, as is its ability to simplify complex business decisions into a format that is easily understood, as well as fun.
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