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Embedding Hands-On Experience with ERP Systems into University Courses: Aligning Academic and Industry Needs

Author(s): Mark Stevenson

Journal: ITALICS
ISSN 1473-7507

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2007;
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Keywords: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) | business process integration | critical reflection | action-learning | education

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are widely used by many of the top recruiters of computer science and business school graduates, providing significant business benefits when implemented effectively. While ERP concepts are taught within Universities from a theoretical point of view, few students have any hands-on experience of using an ERP system when they graduate. As a result, there is a significant gap between the way in which ERP concepts are applied in practice and the way in which they are taught in Universities. This paper describes the adoption of new, innovative material during 2006 which enhances two postgraduate courses taught at a leading UK management school and provides students with hands-on experience with an ERP system. It is argued here that this enhances their student experience, improves their employability and increases their ‘readiness’ for industry, thereby contributing to aligning the objectives of higher education institutions and practitioners. The paper also describes how a number of challenges to incorporating the new material within existing course structures were overcome, providing guidance for fellow academics embarking on similar ventures. Issues discussed include: coping with the uncertainty of new material, maintaining academic integrity and encouraging critical self reflection and learning.
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