Content and information are everywhere nowadays. Anyone can learn anything on the web with easy access. Therefore, traditional teaching and learning methods, which are considered content-centered, are not as effective as they used to be. Students lose their motivation since they are sure they will find anything on the internet when they want it, where they want it, and sometimes, at better quality.
“To engage today’s students, we need a new approach.”
Students need active learning where they face real-world problems and challenges. They need a context where they can develop their creativity and soft skills while learning all the technical skills required. So what is the right approach for that?
Challenge Based Learning (CBL) was first developed by Apple Inc. in 2008 specifically to address this need. In fact, CBL was defined as a collaborative learning experience in which teachers and students work together to learn about compelling issues, propose solutions to real problems, and take action. The approach asks students to reflect on their learning and the impact of their actions and publish their solutions to a worldwide audience.
CBL in Supply Chain Management
The world is changing very fast. Uncertainty, risks, and supply chain disruptions are the new normal. Therefore, we need supply chain leaders who are not just great technically but also more creative and imaginative. Here is what Stephanie Thomas, Associate Professor of Practice at University of Arkansas, training the next generation of supply chain professionals, said in an interview when she was questioned about soft skills supply chain leaders need to have: “I think there is both an art and a science to supply chain management, so people that have a good left brain/right brain balance are well suited for this type of career”. [SCM Globe agrees – we call it the right mix of “science and street-smarts”]
Universities and education providers play an important role in preparing future supply chain leaders. But, supply chain education still faces some daunting challenges – like applying the principles that students learn in class to real-life, current supply chain questions, problems, and opportunities. Hence, the challenging, free space, hands-on, and collaborative nature of Challenge-Based Learning makes it best suited for supply chain management education and training.
SCM Globe: The New Way of Teaching Supply Chain Management
At SCM Globe, we consider Challenged Based Learning to be the appropriate way to teach and learn supply chain management as it is fast, easy, engaging, and effective. Since 2013 we have been helping schools that teach supply chain management to grow the knowledge and engagement of their students. Our interactive supply chain simulations provide an excellent complement to lectures and readings. There are many realistic supply chain case studies (commercial, humanitarian, and military) with challenges of increasing complexity in the library. We provide the ability to easily and accurately model any supply chain, and run simulations, and analyze results. This interactive learning helps increase students’ engagement and growing knowledge retention by applying what they learn in real-world Supply Chains.
Here is a testimonial that we recently received from an industrial engineering student in Morocco. It highlights the fact that supply chain management is as much an art as it is a science:
“Working on the Cincinnati Seasonings case study has been a great opportunity for me to open the door to a wide topic, and that is supply chain management. I had the chance to live the role of a supply chain manager, and challenges faced every day to maintain the supply chain in the best conditions, and how to overcome them. This experience helped me develop my knowledge in this area and feed my brain with new concepts and optimization skills. Sometimes I was sure that a decision was the most appropriate to make because its effectiveness seemed clear to me. But during the simulation, I was surprised by the opposite. So I understood that a great supply chain manager does not always follow what might seem evident. A wise leader needs a deeper vision to see beyond limits.” MAHHANI Khaoula, from the National School of Mines of Rabat.
What works for students, works for employees, and also for people who want to learn new skills. With years of experience helping schools and professionals to learn supply chain management, we have found that Challenge Based Learning is the best way to be equipped with the necessary skills in an industrial practice like supply chain management. Schools, companies, and governments need to invest in skills training and choose solutions that can provide the maximum value to our future supply chain leaders.