Global Campus Lightbulb Award Goes to the Hospitality Event Management Sim Team

Screen capture from the digital hospitality event management program.
Photo Submitted

Screen capture from the digital hospitality event management program.

A team at Global Campus received the Lightbulb Award from Global Campus in recognition of extensive and high quality work in creating a hospitality event management simulator. This innovative technology solution will allow students enrolled in the event management minor to plan, execute and evaluate events without negatively affecting actual, real-time proceedings. The award was presented at a July staff meeting.

Dede Hamm, a teaching assistant professor in the Hospitality Management Program in the School of Human Environmental Sciences at the U of A, partnered with John Hickey, an instructional designer at Global Campus, to submit a grant proposal to the university's Teaching and Faculty Support Center. Their intention was to develop a learning simulation for an upcoming event planning course. Other members of the development team included Lesley Speller and Alicia Estes, both eLearning developers in learning technology support at Global Campus.

The goal of the team is for the hospitality faculty and Global Campus staff to develop several simulations that allow students to apply knowledge from concepts learned in class to detailed events in a risk-free environment.

"The event planning minor has been one of the largest growing minors at the university since it was introduced in the 2018-2019 academic year," Hamm said. "Due to its popularity and growth, we are constantly trying to improve how our students learn and offer more options for different learning styles. We have seen an increase in student engagement and enjoyment in learning via simulations through an existing system in our lodging management class, so we wanted to develop a simulation learning activity with our events students."

The Simulation

Students were asked in what area they would most like to have additional training. The response was overwhelming for budget and finance. As a result of the students' responses, the first sim developed for the event planning course focused on budgeting and cash management processes.

"Many steps were required to create the simulation," Hickey said. "The sim narrative follows a real-life scenario, relatable to the learner — the cash management process for a wedding. Students can run the simulation as many times as they like, encouraging them to learn that, by making changes during the simulation, they can both raise their score and attempt different decisions in a safe learning atmosphere."

After using the sim, students would be able to create a projected budget to strategically manage an event's financial goals. In the end, the sim helps determine if the final outcome would be a profit, a break-even result or a loss. Students can adjust the budget as new or changing expenses and revenue sources occur, then compare the projected and final event budgets for evaluation.

It was initially thought best to include a programmer to build the simulation from the ground up, but as the project progressed and Speller and Estes joined the team, it was decided to use the program Articulate Storyline to build out the simulation.

Global Campus Members of Development Team

Hickey has worked for the U of A for 18 years, the past five with Global Campus. His previous positions at the university have included serving as media supervisor at the Fay Jones School of Architecture, as well as project manager for the Operations Management Program in Industrial Engineering.

"I am proud to work with such a professional team, to include faculty and staff, in helping to create innovative teaching materials that will be used in current and future courses at the University of Arkansas," Hickey said. "I sincerely appreciate the dedication of instructor Dr. Dede Hamm and the hard work and innovation that Alicia Estes and Lesley Speller brought to this project."

Hickey is a member of the Instructional Design and Student Support team under the supervision of Ken Muessig, instructional design manager at Global Campus. Hickey's normal job duties include assisting faculty in the design and development of online courses using the most current technology to deliver instructional materials to help students achieve their academic goals.

"John's previous work experience enhances his instructional design ability," Muessig said. "He saw an opportunity to bring in more people to help the project succeed. When people are empowered to make decisions and use their creativity, good things happen."

Alicia Estes began working part time at the university with IT Services in 1999, transitioning to full time in 2002 as a research and support specialist. She joined Global Campus in 2016.

"Working with such creative and knowledgeable teammates on an interesting project like this is rewarding all on its own," Estes said. "To have the project recognized as innovative is extra special because innovation is my favorite part of working for Global Campus."

Speller joined the U of A in 2002 as a part-time lab operator for GACL (General Access Computer Labs). She moved full time to the IT Help Desk in 2005 before transitioning to being a research and support specialist and joined Global Campus in 2016.

"I truly enjoyed working with this great group to create this simulation," Speller said. "I hope that it continues to be improved upon to help hospitality students now and in the future."

Both Estes and Speller are members of the Learning Technology Support team, under the supervision of Anna Phillips, learning technology support manager in Instructional Design and Support Services. Their duties include editing, writing and maintaining the TIPS (Teaching Innovation and Pedagogical Support) blog and social media accounts, working with faculty to find new and innovative ways to engage with students, working with instructional designers and academic technologists to support instructors, and exploring new technologies and their applications in teaching and learning.

"Lesley and Alicia bring innovative solutions that help all learners understand content in meaningful ways," Phillips said. "They are an asset to Global Campus and to the university as a whole."

Learn More

Global Campus instituted the Lightbulb Award to honor staff members for outstanding innovation that goes above and beyond their routine job responsibilities. This award is open to appointed and hourly staff who work for Global Campus. 

Global Campus supports U of A colleges and schools in the development and delivery of online, distance and workforce education programs and courses. It provides instructional design services, technology services and assistance with marketing, recruiting and strategic academic development. 

Global Campus also supports the W.E. Manning Memorial Scholarship, which is open to undergraduate and graduate students studying in online degree programs.

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