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Peer Review

Breaking the Mold in Africa:

by Gayle Allard


Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Dec 20, 2012 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: This case is an interactive learning exercise that introduces students to economic data and indicators for individual countries on the African continent. It was developed by IE Business Schools Publishing to enable students to improve the economy of an African country through simulation by experimenting and applying different economic policies. The website provides tools to explore economic data profiles and introduces some of the development challenges African countries face. Upon entering the site students have the option of taking a short quiz to get their attention and engagement at the beginning. The material is all-inclusive and setup for students to complete three phases of activities that includes: 1) studying background materials that is organized into seven different categories (economy, governance, infrastructure, trade, NGOs, aid and development. 2) reading book summaries of three notable and controversial researchers conclusions and recommendations are on solving problems faced by the world’s poorest developing countries; and, 3) developing a plan to allocate $USD10 million on different policy categories using a real data simulator to address a countries development issues and increase GDP. This learning exercise can be used in an economics or global business world class to supplement a lecture by showing students how abstract economic concepts and equations work when put into actual practice. The simulation is an excellent way for students to practice moving money around and immediately see the effects of their allocation plan impacts country development.
Learning Goals: Students will: •Gain an understanding and draw basic conclusions by practicing allocating $US 10 million toward specific economic indicators in an African country. •Compare and contrast different economic development solutions and recommendations introduced by notable economists to assist some of the poorest countries in the world. •Utilize country research to create a development strategy that takes into account budget constraints and other financial and societal factors.
Target Student Population: College undergraduate economic or international business student
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic computer skills and access to the Internet and foundational economics and global policy courses
Type of Material: Case study
Recommended Uses: This interactive case simulation can be used in a small team project. Teams of students select one of the African countries to study by following the instructions located on the case website. The stated requirement for the case is: •Design a development strategy for the selected country within the allowed budget constraints and considering the situation of the country, based on the data provided and any outside research conducted as support to the project. •Final team presentation to class.
Technical Requirements: Internet Explorer 8 or the equivalent Firefox browser will suffice. Quicktime or Flash Player is required. Internet access

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: • The content was exceptionally well designed and had a vast amount of supporting information • Each heading had considerable detail and provided information for the reviewer by country and provided comparisons to EU and US for comparisons of averages • As each country data was the country was identified by location on the map of Africa • Categories of economic information and videos are easily accessed and organized to support other parts of the online learning environment including an interactive map of Africa with a point and click feature for quickly finding information. • The case simulator is an excellent tool that empowers students in several ways: it gives them the opportunity to manipulate variables of data and money and observe the impact immediately; it allows them to rely less on intuition and reading and more on sensing and factual materials; and engages them to think actively about the material, rather than seeing it as a collection of formulas and graphs to memorize.
Concerns: • The simulation tab was not prominent and did not really understand how to start the simulation by clicking on “Enter” I did not actually start the simulation • Make The Simulation button more prominent similar to “Enter” radio button

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: • Provided a logic approach to the explanation and description of the issues and hindrances to development in Africa • Demonstrated the effects of increases and decreases in trade, development, and displayed the myriad of issues associated with Africa.
Concerns: • Assignments would have to be focused on African countries • Lacked direct descriptions or examples to tell the user how to progress through the module. • Did not note the identification of prerequisite knowledge.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: • Website was easy to connect to and easy to maneuver on the page • Presentation allows viewer to progress or move backward at their own pace • Simulation was very interactive and changes were made to budget it was reflect in overall budget funding • The material is an excellent application with good links to additional resources.
Concerns: • Would have preferred to see a practice simulation so user can learn the system

Other Issues and Comments: Overall a very informative and exceptionally well designed module. Author responded quickly and fixed a link that was not working.