Learning to create more a-ha! moments in learning

How do you learn? I learn through doing; a-ha..! Knowledge applied through reflection of a real life experience.

Those ‘A-ha!’ learning moments come for me, more often than not, when I’m doing or trying something out; experimenting for myself or more crucially doing it with others.

I spoke to a university graduate and a current postgraduate student recently and they expressed a similar view. They described learning as not knowledge being poured in but in the application of new knowledge; both expressed a desire for more opportunities for active learning in the classroom, for discussion and collaboration across disciplines to share ideas and perspectives. ‘I want to know what I can do with this knowledge; my knowledge out in the world.’

We see that magical ‘aha’ moment a lot when students bring a problem or an idea to work through together in the Ideas Labs we run weekly in the Learning Zone during term time.

Working on your own idea is a motivated process of being willing to challenge your dearest held assumptions, experimenting to apply knowledge you have or new knowledge you have found, joining the dots to make sense of what’s needed to move forward and validate an idea as an opportunity. It’s about the search for desirability, feasibility and viability of a solution users want, need and will pay for; even just paying with their time; whether it’s a project, a social enterprise or a business venture of some kind.

The Teaching and Learning Studio at Stanford University is a place where educators from all disciplines experiment with new ways of engaging students using design thinking and experiential learning to solve wicked problems. The studio supports educators to develop strategies that help students develop skills and mindsets for the 21st century and I was very fortunate to be an awardee of the EEUK Richard Beresford bursary, a personal development fund for educators, which part funded a trip to the studio for the learning trip of a lifetime.

Fresh from d.School inspiration, I’m grateful for a whole new network of international colleagues to exchange ideas on shaping learning using human centred design that puts the student at the centre of the experience.  So forward thinking are they at Stanford d.School, that it’s an annual thing for educators to pitch their major and minor courses to students on d.School’s ’Pitch Night’…

I want to learn to facilitate more of those ‘A-ha!’ learning moments for students who come to the Enterprise Team’s Ideas Labs sessions. It’s about creating the environment for students to ‘try on’ mindsets and behaviours; practice being curious, resourceful, imaginative, questioning norms and assumptions, observing, ideating, making connections and big leaps to confidently create new solutions; seeing failure along the way as as the stepping stone to the next experiment…and that’s a tough one for us all to ‘try on’ in our practice.

It’s about the quest to develop all students as creative problem solvers;  ‘innovators’  in every discipline. This skill, rooted in creativity is needed in every shape and size of organisation to remain competitive and for employees, leaders and entrepreneurs to continue to find ways to create new value.

So what is Design Thinking and how does it relate to designing learning and facilitating learning experiences and how an it be used as a pedagogical tool?

Design thinking is a mindset. It is optimistic, collaborative, human centred and creative and it’s experimental. It’s the confidence that everyone can be part of creating a more desirable future, and the design process empowers people to take action when faced with a difficult challenge. That kind of optimism is well needed in education and in students heading out into a challenged global environment.

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Design thinking is a team sport and through small design challenges we and our learners can learn the attitudes and mindsets to collaborate and create, experimenting by framing a learning through design challenge, unpacking assumptions about the challenge or problem, exploring the problem space with users, defining a point of view about the challenge.

Through optimistic and energised ideation a design team can  learn to ‘turn off’ the evaluator mindset and generate ideas through divergent thinking; brainstorming, building on one another’s ideas, generating lots of ideas to create great ideas, and learning that sometimes seemingly wild ideas are the spark to something better; out of the box possibilities; solutions to wicked problems. Ideas are selected for development through voting and the design team builds to learn through improv and role play to imagine possibilities before building simple, fail fast mockups and prototypes to share with users for feedback. What works, what doesn’t..? Return to prototype… return to test… iterate…until ‘Ahah! We did it! Our solution has cracked the problem; what a feeling… ‘like something inside me changed.’

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The Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators contains the process and methods of design. Developed by the global design company Ideo, (Founded by David Kelley who also founded Stanford’s d.School). The toolkit offers new ways to be intentional and collaborative when designing educational experiences, and empowers educators to create  impactful student centred learning solutions, but also to integrate design thinking into problem based learning as a creative problem solving process. The process empowers students to get creative, starting by solving simple human centred challenges to prepare them for tackling seemingly insoluble challenges.

‘Educators from across the world are facing design challenges every single day, from feedback systems to daily schedules. Wherever they fall on the spectrum of scale – the challenges educators are confronted with are real, complex, and varied. And as such, they require new perspectives, new tools, and new approaches. Design Thinking is one of them.’ Ideo.com

What was woefully missing in my education, and my daughter’s after me, were those serendipidous ‘A-ha’ moments in learning, and it’s this creative, human agency, I now believe that is at the heart of our work as educators. We have a short window of opportunity to intentionally develop learners as creative problem solvers, innovators and value creators beyond their discipline; skills for living and for lifelong learning.

‘Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.’

Benjamin Franklin

My thanks to Enterprise Educators UK for part funding this learning experience with the Richard Beresford Bursary. More details on how to apply here.

Resources:

Teaching innovators can download Design Thinking for Educators here.

A Canvas to design learning here

Sir Ken Robinson’s ‘Whats the point of creativity at University’ here.

Monetising your app idea

Making your app stand out against the competition

The UK app economy is estimated to be worth about £83bn by 2021, but with almost 1,000 apps submitted to the app store each day competition is high. A recent article in The Guardian spoke to a number of bestselling app producers to see what they thought was needed to make a successful app.

It is evident that marketing is a crucial factor which can make all the difference, with developers sometimes spending too much on producing the perfect app rather than prioritising their marketing budget.

Utilising and building a network of users, testers, tech journalists and investors before launching is also mentioned as important to getting an app out there.

Other points discussed in the article include framing the purpose and function of the app with a story you can tell and the advantages of using a Freemium model.

To read the full article, please visit The Guardian’s website.

Do you have an app idea? Want help developing a marketing plan or building up your network? Get involved in Enterprise Team Labs!

 

Disruptive Innovation Festival 2017

Online, open access event that asks the question: what if we could redesign everything?

Accessing the Disruptive Innovation Festival is simple as it is all online and free! The festival will involve 200 hours of content streamed throughout it’s three week duration, including live studio discussions, animations, pre-recorded videos and roundtable debates with leading thinkers. Whilst watching you can chip in with your your own thoughts or questions.

When? It’s already kicked off – 6th-24th November

Find out more on the thinkdif.co

Innovation needs time

‘Time is worth more than money’

A recent article on Strategyzer’s blog discusses the importance of allowing adequate amounts of time for serious innovation including time to explore, test and de-risk ideas. The article focuses on workers within organisations who are often expected to innovate on top of their day job. However, time is of course important for any innovator whether it’s part of your job or not – do you think you are allowing enough time for innovation?

Read the full article on Startegyzer’s Blog.

Northern Power Women Live Podcast Recording

Accelerating gender equality from the North

Northern Power Women is a campaign aiming to transform the culture of organisations to increase opportunities for women and showcase role models and best practice for organisations that are helping to drive economic growth.

As part of their campaign, monthly podcasts are recorded discussing the big issues which affect our careers and lives. You’ll hear form an individual at the top of their game on the challenges they faced and the mistakes they made. You might even have the opportunity to discuss and seek some advice on some of your own career related issues.

When? Monday 30th October, 12-1pm

Where? Lancaster Management School

Interested? Register your attendance on Eventbrite.

Even if you can’t make the live recordings, you can download and subscribe to the podcasts on the Northern Power Women website. 

Is Blockchain the future of tech?

Apple, Alphabet (Google), Facebook and Amazon – will their reign last forever?

Concern over the amount of power and information held by some of the world’s largest tech companies such as Apple, Alphabet (Google), Facebook and Amazon appears to be growing in today’s society.

Recent months have seen increasing interest and investment in a new emerging technology – ‘Blockchain,’ a version of the technology that brought us bitcoin. It is believed that Blockchain technology could be used to build similar platforms to those of the big tech companies however, in a more cooperative style – owned by all who participate or invest, avoiding the super-concentration of wealth and power into one company.

Blockchain experiments are now popping up all over the world, so who knows what the future holds…

Find out more by reading the full Newsweek article on their website.

 

 

Spaces 4 Change

Unlock the potential of unused or under-utlised space in your community

Spaces for Change (S4C) is a UK wide programme funded by Young UnLtd. The scheme is looking to fund and support individuals or groups of young people aged 16-24, to start and run social ventures using under-utlised spaces within their community.

Successful applicants are awarded £5,000 of project funding along with a dedicated award manager providing tailored support, cohort support and peer to peer networking opportunities for sharing knowledge and learning.

Expressions of interest can be submitted up until the 13th of November. Successful applicants will be invited to pitch their idea to a panel in January.

To find out more about the scheme and to apply, visit the Spaces for Change webpages.

Are Social Enterprises more sustainable, innovative and profitable?

‘Does doing good make you better?’

There are 471,000 social enterprises in the UK, making up for almost 9% of the total UK small business population. Government research has recently revealed that businesses which put their profits into social or environmental causes appear more likely to be innovative and profitable than traditional SMEs.The research also compared the types of challenges cited by SMEs and Social Enterprise Employers.

Take a look at some of the highlights from the study which was commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy on Enterprise Nation’s blog.

Maybe you have an idea for a Social Enterprise? Book on to an IntroLab to tell us about it!

Global Entrepreneurial Leaders Summit

Live Stream of WildHearts Global Entrepreneurial Leaders Summit

To ‘celebrate the power of entrepreneurship as a force for social and economic change,’ the WildHearts Group host Global Entrepreneurial Leaders Summits, bringing together some of the world’s leading Corporate, Social and Founding Entrepreneurs.

The next summit is being held in London on the 5th of October. The Summit includes sessions on Women in Leadership, Business for Good (both local and global) and Impact-full education. The day includes many inspiring speakers including Elizabeth Nyamayaro, Head of UN’s #HeForShe campaign.

The great news is that you can watch the Summit live from the comfort of your own room on the WildHearts Group Facebook page. It will also be available for catch up following the event.

The Bootleg Benchmarks – Eight ideas for Careers and Enterprise through the Curriculum

Ready Unlimited is a small team that makes a big impact

Amanda Brooks, Enterprise Education Development Manager in The Lancaster University Enterprise Team reflects on learning from the recent International Educators Conference:

At the International Enterprise Educators Conference in Glasgow Caledonian University in September, I met Managing Director and principal consultant Catherine Brentnall of Ready Unlimited who was there to share and launch a draft of her guide for Secondary School teachers to support the development of careers and enterprise through the curriculum.

The guide – The Bootleg Benchmarks – ‘Eight ideas for Careers and Enterprise through the Curriculum’ – was developed through a project funded by Enterprise Educators UK, and delivered in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire.

The guide, and an accompanying pedagogy survey, helps identify pragmatic actions which subject teachers can utilise, adapt and experiment with in their own classroom.  Catherine shares the Lancaster University’s Enterprise Team’s vision that through education, young people develop the enterprising and entrepreneurial knowledge, mind set and behaviours relevant to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. To achieve this, her mission, like our own, is to work with a community of educators so they can incrementally create and strengthen enterprising and entrepreneurial teaching and learning for all young people, through the curriculum.

Catherine welcomes feedback on Bootleg Benchmarks, and although it was designed with secondary schools mind, it’s an excellent starting point for teaching staff in HE wanting to innovate their practice.

Catherine works with hundreds of teachers and Head Teachers every year across the UK and abroad.  Her unique combination of skills and expertise enable her to bridge the gap between academic entrepreneurial learning theory and practice by effecting real change in classrooms.  ‘“If you give teachers the time and tools to develop enterprise education for themselves, they can change the experience of every student that comes into their classroom.’ said Catherine. Teachers involved in developing enterprise and Entrepreneurship education in the curriculum say it has enabled students to:

  • Have a sense of belonging and purpose in their community
  • Develop a love for lifelong learning
  • Connect with the world of work and business that they will one day move into
  • Develop enterprise capability, financial capability and economic and business understanding
  • See and make opportunities

For teaching staff at Lancaster interested in learning how they might start to introduce Enterprise into their modules the Bootleg Benchmarks offers a helpful eight-point check list from which to benchmark current practice.

Further reading on Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in the Curriculum in the QAA’s Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Guidance:  http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/enterprise-entrepreneurship-guidance.pdf

For the academic Year 2017/18, The Enterprise Team will be working with faculty teaching staff who offer curricular placements, consultancy projects and/or competitions, to design and promote co-curricular enterprise sessions to enable students to build a foundation for their commercial awareness and concepts of value creation in preparation for contact  with organisations. This offer is enhanced by the opportunity to join a community of enterprise learners in the weekly ‘Labs’ in the Learning Zone.

To get connected with other teaching innovators at Lancaster you can join LEEN (Lancaster Enterprise Educators Network) for updates on events and opportunities available to teaching staff at Lancaster by registering here

EEUK’s International Enterprise Educators Conference happens every year in Early September. Slides and themes from this year’s event can be seen here and here. Lancaster university is a member organisation of EEUK and staff can attend the EEUK best practice events throughout the year for free. Regular updates through LEEN.

Careers and Enterprise through the Curriculum – guide to accompany pedagogy bench marking tool. (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319872913_Careers_and_Enterprise_through_the_Curriculum_-_guide_to_accompany_pedagogy_bench_marking_tool [accessed Sep 17, 2017].

Amanda Brooks, Enterprise Education Development Manager
Lancaster University Enterprise Team