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.

Enterprise Awards – Call for nominations!

 We need your nominations!

We are currently busy planning for the relaunch of our annual Lancaster University Enterprise Awards. The awards aim to recognise and celebrate the diversity of ways in which students, researchers and alumni have applied their entrepreneurial mindsets, acted as creative-problem solvers and made a genuine impact on the world around them.

The awards seek not only to celebrate the successes but also recognise the journeys and distances travelled to reach those successes -every winner should have a story to tell, which hopefully will help to inspire others to engage in similar pursuits to realise their own dreams and ambitions.

The award ceremony itself is set to take place in December and will involve  a formal dinner attended by various VIPs, stakeholders and of course a number of students. The dinner will be followed by entertainment, and an opportunity to network and socialise.

But now we need your help!

We need your assistance in identifying nominees within the following categories:

  • Student Leader – Individuals/teams with a leadership role on behalf of a segment of the student body e.g. Society Execs, College JCRs, Departmental Reps, LUSU Offices and Student Ambassadors who have demonstrated the application of entrepreneurial behaviours to the realisation of an event, project, activity or other intervention.
  • KE Champion – Individuals/teams who have displayed entrepreneurial behaviours in the undertaking of a Knowledge Exchange Intervention with an external organisation. For example through a Student Consultancy Project, Placement or Internship, KTP or PG Rise project.
  • Impactful Researcher – Early Career Researchers who have translated, or taken active steps to translate their research into sustainable research impact, for example via a licensing agreement, spin-out or other business model.
  • Sustainable Venture – Individuals/teams who have successfully launched a venture that has a clearly identified ‘triple bottom line’ business model, and has demonstrated or begun to demonstrate its viability. Must be formally registered, and trading for a maximum of three years.
  • Organisational Innovator – Individual alumni (up to last three years) who have gone into employment in any role, industry or sector except self-employment, or as a founder member of a start-up

There will also be a ‘bright sparks’ category which will involve the submission of short video pitches for ideas – more details on this category to follow!

Further details on each of the categories and what we are looking for can be found within the nomination form. If you think there is either a team or individual (or maybe you are them!) that fits into one of the categories, please download and complete this nomination form and send it back to enterpristeam@lancaster.ac.uk no later than the 31st of October.

 

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

 

Cohort learning and R&D tools

‘Why cohort learning works’

Using the example of a recent Research & Development phase focused bootcamp, Nesta explains why a cohort approach to learning can be beneficial, especially for groups of people with common needs. Cohort based learning helps to encourage natural collaboration and peer support –  building stronger networks among participants, whilst also providing them with the relevant skills.

In addition to talking about cohort learning, their blog post includes a number of useful tools used during the bootcamp to help projects to start undertaking R&D work, including help to conduct a ‘pre-mortem,’ stakeholder mapping tools and guides to prototyping. To read the full article visit the Nesta blog.

Connecting Social Entrepreneurs Event

Joint University Networking Event

Join this University networking event for social innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders from across the North West. Facilitated by Flourish CIC this is the ideal opportunity to connect, collaborate, find out about relevant opportunities and hear inspirational speakers tell their stories.

When? 5-7:30pm, Wednesday 18th January 2017

Where? Old Abbey Taphouse, Guildhall Close, Manchester, M15 6SY

To attend, register online via Eventbrite. 

Shift to a Gamified, Narrative-based Educational Assessment Regime?!

Dr Alexander K. Kofinas explores the argument for a shift in educational assessment to a more narrative-orientated approach in an interesting article for the Chartered Association of Business Schools. With student engagement becoming an increasing problem, the close link between academic engagement and assessment regimes is an important aspect for educators to consider. Evidence of changes in methods of teaching to meet current needs are already evident including the increased incorporation of methods such a blended learning, flipped classrooms, practice-based learning and game-based learning.

A key example of a method which can help educators to articulate a specific narrative to students is through the use of educational gamification. Good games are carefully designed, developed and implemented to hook players in, if an educational journey is designed in a similar manner, focused on engagement it could result in a more successful and satisfying learning experience.

To read more click here.

What really matters most to you in life?

Web design author and ex-marketing strategy consultant Ben Hunt asks ‘Why do we do what we do?

Really… what is the ultimate point?

  • Is it just to make money? If so, exactly how much money is “enough money”?
  • Is it to make a better world? If so, what does that world look like exactly?
  • Is it to be remembered as important? If so, what do you want your obituary to say?

It isn’t for me to attempt to answer that question for you. But I can tell you this…

When you know what you stand for, what you stand against, what you value, what you don’t care for, the people or causes you wish to champion… you actually discover yourself.

And when you do that, your whole life becomes simpler, and your choices become easier.

You stop chasing and start building, because you know who you are, who you wish to become, and you can see the path from here to there.

You’ll also be able to spot the kindred spirits who can help you along your way. Perhaps you and I are kindred spirits?

For me, I find this 23-minute video incredibly inspiring. It’s the late, great John Seymour, the father of modern self-sufficiency, and he puts into words his view of the world, and what progress means, in a way that I could never do.

Watch the video here.

Best wishes

Ben Hunt

You can register for Ben’s website and blog here.

Teaching Creativity to Leaders

Favourite Read of the Week from Strategyzer’s Nabila Amarsy.

What: Employers in the 21st century are pressured to evolve rapidly and innovate at the risk of being outcompeted if they are too slow to react. IDEO’s Tim Brown advises leaders in education and industry on how to instil creativity in their organisational culture.

Why: It’s not necessarily about bean bags, ping pong tables, and free food. Empowering our staff and students to be more creative requires a deep cultural change.

How: Find out more in Tim Brown’s podcast on the Harvard Business Review.

And… In his talk ‘What’s the point of Creativity at University?’,  internationally influential thinker on education and creativity Sir Ken Robinson also considers how higher education institutions might play a greater role in developing the creative capacities of all of their students. It’s thought provoking, entertaining and well worth a watch. See the the long version here and the highlights from the talk here.

It is important to start with a clear definition of what we mean by creativity, as there are two completely different types. The first is technical creativity, where people create new theories, technologies or ideas. This is the type of creativity Ken Robinson and Tim Brown are referring to. The second is artistic creativity, which is more born of skill, technique and self-expression. You can explore more about understanding creativity and practical approaches to it here.

President Obama at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit

Catch up with all the happenings from the recent Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Silicon Valley

Last week Stanford University hosted the seventh annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, bringing together more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, investors and startup champions form around the world.

Hosted by U.S President Barack Obama, it exemplified the support and spark he has instilled for global entrepreneurship during his time in office. In his remarks he referred to entrepreneurs as “the glue… who can help lead to a more peaceful and prosperous future that provides opportunity for everybody,” a powerful statement emphasising the global value of entrepreneurs in our future.

To read more about the Summit read the Global Entrepreneurship Network’s blog post here. You can also watch videos of the event on the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 Silicon Valley YouTube channel.

Sign up to our mailing list to receive updates on Global Entrepreneurship Week at Lancaster in November 2016.