The Information Technology Virtual Enterprise Guides
The STEM-based Virtual Enterprise, or STEM-VE for short, applies the Virtual Enterprise construct to specific STEM areas (currently IT and BioTechnology). It is generally branded as vexy, for STEM area xy (such as veit and vebiotech). It is offered in three manners:
- vexy-Careers: Students form several enterprises that serve different niches within their discipline (such as IT for a hospital, IT for a college, IT for a bank). The simulation centers around staffing their group, seeking problems specific to their industry, and creating rudimentary solutions. The focus is on the breadth of careers and the types of problems handled at fundamentally different institutions.
- vexy-Awareness: An abbreviated version of the Careers course used with non-majors in Institute or Workforce Training modalities. The students describe solutions and products within the STEM discipline, but unlike in (1) do not take the steps towards a limited implementation of said plans. This allows for the inclusion of students with a limited disciplinary background; these students can be excited about and recruited to the STEM area.
- vexy-Projects/Capstone: Students form an enterprise that develops a novel product or service. The simulation centers around the understanding the consumer, designing the product and planning for its implementation, and developing marketing materials.
An implementers' guide to the pedagogy can be found below.
A Sample VE-IT Delivery embedded within an Introduction to IT Course
The Virtual Enterprise pedagogy was embedded into an Introduction to IT course for one of three classroom hours per week. The class was divided into 5 teams, each forming the IT department of a larger business (IT for (1) a hospital, (2) an auto manufacturer, (3) a finance firm, (4) a college, (5) law firm). Each team first researched the typical duties, salary, and educational requirements for a fully staffed department; this culminated in the creation of a hiring plan. The team, with each student assuming the various roles (eg. database technician, information security officer), used library and periodical resources to identify niche problems that their firms would generally encounter (eg. needing to perform legal data mining and discovery on large document sets). The problems were reported to the class as a whole, and each team ranked issues in terms of priority and interest. The top two problems for each firm were then tackled, with each team researching costs and advantages of various existing solutions provided by other vendors. The students developed an implementation plan including a Gantt chart specifying timing and roles. These plans were presented to a set of corporate partners who acted as executives of the student teams' respective firms. Each executive commented on the solutions and requested various revisions. The semester culminated with 5 well-thought, revised plans. The evaluation showed that the real deliverable was that the students as a whole realized the value of their course of study and what problems within the IT discipline appealed to them.