I have been running my own business for the best part of a year now. In terms of the actual duration, it is only a few hundred days but in terms of experience it feels like a lifetime.
One of the greatest pleasures about running Play with Learning is the flexibility it gives me to do things that I believe are genuinely worthwhile; one of those things is teaching. Among various bits and bobs, I am running a final year undergraduate module entitled “Creative Media Enterprise” at Bradford University. The focus of the course is to raise awareness of what working in the media industry is really like and it draws on my years of experience with the BBC and independent production companies.
This week, I revisited a very simple tool to capture a business’s headline characteristics. It is an effective way of thinking about the foundations of any plan. It covers:
The diagram below explains some of those terms but the crucial element of the tool is the emphasis on ‘value,’ that is, what the business provides that customers and audiences might want or need. The value proposition is the heart of any viable business idea because it establishes how distinctive and attractive the concept is. Perhaps more importantly, it helps determine whether the idea is something that people would pay for or pay to be associated with.
It is an activity that I’ve done myself when I set up Play with Learning. You can see my notes below.
Although the task of developing a viable business plan for a potential company is something that only a few of the group are considering right now, the activity is analogous to marketing the students themselves. Hopefully, it will help develop the habit of demonstrating distinctiveness and value through well thought out plans and research. And hopefully, whatever path the students ultimately take, these skills will prove valuable to them, their customers and clients, and their employers.
There’s a lot of really interesting work going on with play and games – here are some of the articles that have caught my eye in the last couple weeks.
Bring Back Play and Disorganized Sports to Our Children. From The Innovative Educator. http://j.mp/n8tCG3
ChicagoQuest promotes game-playing at school – Chicago Sun-Times http://j.mp/qU8zEk
Parents’ behavior linked to kids’ video game playing. Michigan State University http://j.mp/qLuP63
Helicopter Parents Can Impede Child’s Ability to Play. From NC State http://j.mp/nyPH8v
Gamasutra – Features – Personality And Play Styles: A Unified Model http://j.mp/qV1dvx
Do Action Video Games Improve Perception and Cognition? Florida Uni research in Frontiers in Cognition journal. http://j.mp/rdxeSI
In the Brain, Winning Is Everywhere. How games affect the brain. From Yale. http://j.mp/oNS856
Five Lessons On Teaching From Angry Birds That Have Nothing Whatsoever To Do With Parabolas. From dy/dan http://j.mp/qpcZ9y
Find Games For Your Players [Marketing] from What Games Are http://j.mp/ob0FIy
Gamers Succeed Where Scientists Fail, Opening Door to New AIDS drug design. http://j.mp/oKX5vk
UK ‘must act to solve games industry brain drain’ Tigra study reported by BBC. http://j.mp/ocsOft
I’m increasingly interested in what makes people happy. It’s pretty clear that it’s not material things such as money or possessions. Similarly, purely selfish behaviour doesn’t seem to lead to contentment either. When we are considering what we want to with our life it is crucial to keep this simple goal and these considerations in mind.
As I spoke to students last week about personal visions, I revisited Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I thought it might be valuable to repeat his thinking here.
Maslow’s hierarchy describes increasing levels of “self actualisation”. This is a state where people reach their full potential and feel fulfilled. In ascending order, the levels are:
Recent research has confirmed that these are global requirements for satisfaction, although different cultures put priority differently. Still, it’s an interesting list and useful for establishing where we sit in our assessment of personal satisfaction.
What’s particularly impressive about Maslow is that he didn’t just leave the hierarchy is purely theoretical, he suggests the 15 characteristics most commonly associated with people who have attained self-actualisation.
The characteristics are:
After an eleven year break from formal regular lecturing, I have started a final year module at the University of Bradford. I’m really pleased to be working so closely with students again: I’ve always found it tremendously exciting to be surrounded by people with so much talent and potential.
My years out of academia have changed my perspective on lecturing and I am very conscious that I cannot predict the needs of students; so I started my session on Friday with some questions to the group. For me, it feels like going back to school, and no bad thing.
As well as asking them what it was they wanted to learn from the module entitled Creative Media EnterpriseI, and what they wanted to take away from it in terms of skills and experiences, I asked them what they wanted it to be like. Their responses were enormously illuminating. I have distilled them into single words for the purposes of the Wordle below.
The two desired characteristics that really stand out are informality and intimacy. I’m talking to final year students, adults, already experienced in many ways and so their desire to be treated as equals is perfectly understandable and valuable. I’d like to think that part of the informality that they request suggests a desire to contribute, to participate, to collaborate (characteristics that they also mentioned).
They didn’t use the word ‘intimate’ in the activity, that’s my one word interpretation of their longing for small group work. There are sixty students taking the class and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to recognise that only limited learning will take place when the whole group are involved. They know as well as I do that adult learning takes place most effectively through discussion and a full lecture theatre isn’t conducive for that.
I’ll do my best to incorporate the other features they want although, rather like gameplay, the sessions may not necessarily be fun but I hope there will always be rewarding.
Perhaps more interesting, was the list of things that they didn’t want.
This is a very sobering reflection of their educational experiences to date and a real challenge for me to avoid. Tackling some of these issues will be easier than others. Some of them are unavoidable.
Still, I think seeking to understand where the students are is a good start. I’m expecting to learn as much from them as the other way around.
What are your desires for learning? How do these comments compare to your own experiences?