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Wharton Joins the No-code Revolution

Wharton is known for conveying exceptional business principles to its students. Simulations are effective tools to test concepts for first hand experience. Yet, simulations are not readily created. Their goal was to explore the extent to which a no-code approach might help lower the barriers for educators interested in creating a highly enriching simulation experience for the students. 

The core team for building the simulation included a Wharton School faculty member and an undergraduate student (Research Assistant), majoring in Marketing and Management, both with no qualifications or experience in software development.  

A web-based application built in 200 hours involving:   

  • 15 interactive screens  
  • 279 logical processes   
  • No hand coding required  

Challenges  

Simulations have become a popular learning tool in higher education. Educational simulations usually consist of an interest-based, fabricated learning environment where decisions are made by participants and real-time feedback is given. They are an effective way to build critical thinking skills, especially in complex situations.    

Educational simulations, however, are expensive and time consuming to create with the cost of development running in tens of thousands of dollars (often more than hundred thousand dollars). These initiatives often take as much as a year to be developed and deployed in the classroom. Simulation tools are also often built specifically and may not be as reusable without extensive re-writes. A building block approach was needed that was both configurable and agile. 

Graphite Studio™ was selected as the no-code platform because it provided the composable capability to build applications for any business domain. Graphite Studio™ enables software creation that’snot confined to only mobile or SaaS-based applications. Graphite Studio’s™ libraries, reusable components and user-interface Element Packs became the way Wharton could build such simulation environment, within their constraints, and for a model easily re-composed for wider use. 

“The innovation behind the NCLC platform Graphite Studio™ has proved to be groundbreaking, bringing the enormous potential of NCLC tools to our classrooms showing us the important purpose they can serve in the environment of increasing digitization". 

-Rahul Kapoor,Professor of Management

What the Platform Strategy Simulation Delivered For Wharton Using Graphite Studio™  

The simulation, titled Platform Strategy Simulation (PSS), is a tool used to teach participants how to create and capture value in a platform-based ecosystem. The simulation divides participants into teams, with each team representing a different ‘platform’. The teams decide how to compete for consumers on one side and service providers (e.g., developers) on the other side by charging each of them a price for using the platform.  

Results 

The objective of this project was to understand the utility of an NCLC tool like Graphite Studio for developing a complex software application such as a web-based educational simulation to be used in a classroom. There are three main ways how the NCLC experience satisfied this objective:   

  1. Created an approachable means for a person, with no experience in software development, to build a high-quality complex web application  
  1. Offered a significantly lower cost and faster approach to developing web applications without requiring full-time involvement of experienced software developers, and   
  1. Allowed the faculty (i.e., the business process owner) and the student (i.e., the developer) to communicate and iterate on a regular basis than what might have been possible in the traditional software development process.  

Graphite Studio™ enabled close collaboration between the student and professor throughout the development process. It offered agility, with more opportunities to share updates during the course of the application development. This allowed the application development process to benefit from constant feedback and reduced the likelihood of miscommunication.  

Future Plans  

Graphite Studio™ democratizes the development of classroom simulations, as with any innovative software creation, by empowering the educators to build their own simulations at a fraction of the cost and development time, while creating a beneficial learning environment for students with the simulation-based learning.

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