University of Pittsburgh

ACIE Award 2010

The Virtual Firm: Interactive Learning for Business Students

Insert Name

Brian Butler

206 Mervis Hall

Billions of dollars are invested annually in information technology (IT), but much of it is wasted because of misaligned priorities and unrealized potential. Realizing the benefits of IT investment requires that individual professionals be able to recognize, describe, and advocate for new ways of using IT to increase efficiency, support growth, and enable transformation. Efforts to teach students how to identify and evaluate IT innovation opportunities are limited, however, because of the difficulty of reproducing the ill-structured, complex, dynamic features of real organizations.

To address these challenges, Brian Butler and Russell Robbins, Business, are developing The Virtual Firm: An Interactive Environment for Teaching IT Opportunity Recognition. The Interactive Virtual Firm builds on a collection of data, documents, and interview transcripts to provide realistic information about the operational, strategic, and financial situation in a business. It is designed to help students learn both the analytical skills associated with evaluating IT application opportunities and the critical thinking skills needed to gather and work with the complicated information sources common in real organizations. The materials can be deployed in Blackboard or through a virtual world environment, and will reach approximately 700 undergraduate students each year in BUSMIS 1060: Introduction to Information Systems.

Virtual Firm Document Collage