This is the first time most of the students are putting theoretical knowledge into practice in a real-life situation. The Zoom names display the roles they have during the game. Representing different parties of interests, they spoke up professionally. Technical Services (Fien from team 37) isn’t sure about investing in a security system: “The internal cybersecurity system will be useless without technical experts, which I don’t have.” Kyra, Board of Directors in another room, cheered the negotiation team when they reached an agreement: “So, we are going to buy this security card system. All agreed? Okay, first point assigned!”
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According to the game coordinator and assistant professor Jan-Willem Weenink, students used to play the game physically on campus in a lecture hall, walking around, justifying their plans and choices with their coworkers in the hospital. This was the first time they played in a smaller setting and online. They will speak up via microphones on their laptops and look at the board of directors’ web page, who will make the clicks that decide the hospital’s future. “We made some adjustments in the online form”, Weenink explained.
Students work on a security plan for a fictitious hospital in a group of six in the game. The biggest challenge they face is to operate under a limited budget, which in-game was presented as points. Each team has eleven points to spend on equipment such as an alarm button system for healthcare workers to report verbal or physical abuse or invest in training anti-terrorism units. Every team member has a specific role and has to negotiate with the other team members.
Different groups approach the challenge differently. In one group, they already made up their minds to spend the eleven points in the middle of the 1-hour countdown and finalized their negotiation when there’s still 10 minutes left. “We are so proud of ourselves that we reached an agreement so well and so early”, the student acting as Board of Directors in the room said. Yet in another one, they were struggling with three points left in the last three minutes. “It took us some time to figure out what each role should do at the beginning,” said Technical Services spokesperson Fien.
At the end of the game, the hospital was hit by a terrorist attack. The strategies and decisions they just made were evaluated based on the casualties and damage. Two of the three teams failed. They were required to justify their choices in response to the attack in a press conference to the media. One of the teams decided to offer a public apology: “We are sorry for the victim’s family”, Sabine, the Board of Directors, said solemnly.
Weenink wants his students to learn from the game. “I want them to learn how to deal with uncertainty and make decisions from real-life experiences, like how to make a decision based on 50 percent of the information. Real-life situations in hospitals are always more complicated than what they can learn from the textbook, and it’s always under negotiation”, the coordinator said.