Marketplace began more than 15 years ago as experiential learning exercise involving play money, poker chips (representing computer chips) and a scientific calculator. Over the course of time, it has migrated through Lotus 123, Turbo Pascal, Windows and finally to the Web. The original calculator was replaced by a Tandy computer (with a TV monitor), which was replaced by a Compaq luggable, then a Wintell PC and now an Internet web server. Each evolutionary gain was made possible by the corresponding gain in technology.
Our first foray into Internet delivery was in the spring of 1996 when we recruited an undergraduate team from the Brno Technical University in the Czech Republic to compete with four American teams at the University of Tennessee. The students entered their decisions on a local computer, and then sent them into and received their results from our processing center via a crude, scripted file transfer protocol (FTP). It was a rough beginning, but a successful one.
Each semester thereafter, we learned from our mistakes and the proclivities of the student competitors, and incrementally worked to smooth out the rough spots of working long distance over the Internet. During the spring of 2000, approximately 80 teams (300 students) from North America, South America, Europe and Asia competed in our International Business Scenario. Today, our fully web-based Marketplace simulations are used by thousands of students and managers all around the world.
International Business Scenario
As a result of our Global Competitions, we have developed a number of educational partners throughout the world. We collaborated with Prof. John Nicholls and Florida International University to create the International Integrated Business Management scenario and the Strategic Corporate Management scenario. Five countries are portrayed (China, Brazil, Canada, United States, and the European Union) and each country has its own set of needs/wants, operating costs and market conditions. Participants also face exchange rate and tariff issues throughout the exercise.
On July 1, 2000, Innovative Learning Solutions, Inc. was formed to commercialize the Marketplace simulation. Its mission is to provide simulation-based training for corporate customers and to administer and support the online simulations for business school instructors.
Our goal is to allow students to work from any location with a PC and an Internet connection. To this end, we have created the Web Marketplace. It's virtual team feature allows the software, operating manual, and decision data to be stored on a web server that can be accessed from different internet-enabled computers at any time. Participants have the option to work from different computers at different times. They can collaborate with team members located across campus, or around the world. The Web Instructor software allows instructors to easily monitor the player's decisions, and coach students when needed.
Marketplace is certainly one of the best training simulations in the world. However, it owes its success to the contributions of many individuals. First, thousands of students and dozens of faculty have provided innumerable suggestions, which lead to wonderful improvements in the learning environment. Second, a very talented development team (Martin Klima, Jano imička, Jozef Briss and Peter Kolciter) and support team (Sean Mullins, Jeanine Schmierbach and Maria Vaskova) has poured their personal energies and wonderful talents into its creation. Third, Dean Warren Neel of the College of Business Administration at the University of Tennessee created a supportive environment, which facilitated the creation of this new learning methodology. Finally, Mr. Harry Bruce, a UT alumni and the former CEO of Illinois Central Railroad, provided the financial and personal support to get it all going. Each of these individuals deserves a special "Thank you" for helping to create a magnificent learning environment.