Category Archives: Enterprise Shed

Relating to The Enterprise Shed course on FutureLearn.

New Year: New Idea

The start of a new year is always a great time to consider problems you would like to solve and changes you would like to make.

On 23 January 2017, Newcastle University opens The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen, our free online course, to a new group of learners.  The four  week course recreates the creative atmosphere of a shed – or any other place where you do your best thinking and doing.  It promises to be a great place for you to work on those new year challenges and ideas.

Here, Katie Wray, Lead ‘Sheducator’, explains why you should all be joining her in The Enterprise Shed.

Lead Sheducator, Katie Wray
Lead Sheducator, Katie Wray

Enterprise and entrepreneurship at a grassroots level

Firstly, let me unpack ‘enterprise’. For me, enterprise is about making creativity, problem solving and ideas practical. This makes it relevant across all areas of education, not just business. Where enterprise is applied to creating a new venture, it is commonly known as ‘entrepreneurship’.

The Enterprise Shed challenges a variety of definitions of the entrepreneur, and looks at enterprise and entrepreneurship at a grassroots level. On the course, you will be introduced to a whole bunch of entrepreneurial individuals and teams, not all of whom refer to themselves as ‘an entrepreneur’.

How to make change in your own context

We are committed to exploring this question with you throughout the course, supporting you to draw your own conclusions about how you can make change in your own context.

Our other commitment is to exploring your ideas – collecting insights into what a solution looks like and helping you to turn that idea into something tangible. Finally, we are committing to developing your network, through which you can share your ideas, and put them into action once the course has finished.

That’s where you come in. This course is about you; it is about your role, through your ideas, in creating change. There are three main reasons why you should join us in The Enterprise Shed:

  1. Develop confidence in yourself as a “doer”

You will do this by analysing the behaviours of other entrepreneurial people who you will be introduced to on the course. You will draw conclusions about the way that they “do” and what you might “do” when approaching your own challenges, problems and projects.

  1. Address problems you want to change

You will do this through identifying problems, sharing them with others, creating and collaborating on ideas generation, and developing solutions together with peers on the course.

  1. Meet people and build networks

We will do this by forming virtual networks around the globe, which can outlive the end of the course. You will meet people that share your passions and drivers to make change in your world, find out where you can go for help, and collaborate to achieve impact.

The Enterprise Shed is not just a course, but a place where you can go to think, and critically, to do.

If you’d like to make your ideas happens, join The Enterprise Shed now or join the conversation using #FLentshed.

Ideas to action in The Enterprise Shed: The Chatterbox

The Chatterbox is an unique high bandwidth Skype facility launched recently in our brand new Majorie Robinson Library Rooms. The idea was something which Jo Robinson-Lamb, a Communications Specialist from NUIT, had been mulling over for some time. Here she tells us how taking part in our free online course, The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen helped her turn her idea into reality.

Jo Robinson-Lamb
Jo Robinson-Lamb

“The original idea for the Skype Booth came from the Digital Campus Scoping Project, part of the University Digital Campus Initiative, which looked at how our students make use of technology in their day-to-day lives on campus. One finding that really stood out for me was the basic need for students to connect with friends and family at home – especially our international students.

The idea stayed with me; could we use our IT skills and services to offer students the ultimate ‘Skype’ experience: a private booth, large screen, comfy seats and great sound so they really felt the person was in the same room?

After further discussions with colleagues, the idea started to grow. I’d heard about the Newcastle University MOOC: The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen and the free online course seemed like the perfect place to share my thoughts and discover how to turn ideas into action.

After sharing the idea in a blog post, I was overwhelmed by the support from the Shed community and mentors. My post was picked up by colleagues in LTDS, who passed it to colleagues in the University Library; they loved the idea, saw its potential and decided the new Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms would provide the ideal opportunity to give it a go. NUIT Audio Visual Services and the Estate Support Service came onboard too and the ‘Chatterbox’ was born.

I couldn’t have done this on my own. The Enterprise Shed helped me to make the connections I needed to turn an idea into reality and I’m thrilled with the results.”

Sign ups are open for The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen which starts on 15 February 2016 and lasts 4 weeks.

Why should you join us in The Enterprise Shed?

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Katie Wray, Lead Educator for the course explores why we should all be joining her in The Enterprise Shed

“Firstly, let me unpack ‘enterprise’. For me, enterprise is about making creativity, problem solving and ideas practical. This makes it relevant across all areas of education, not just business. Where enterprise is applied to creating a new venture, it is commonly known as ‘entrepreneurship’. We are increasingly aware of entrepreneurship, through the steady creation of new businesses (particularly in austere times), but also through the media. From this awareness we can each draw our own conclusions about what an entrepreneur is? The Enterprise Shed challenges a variety of definitions of an entrepreneur and looks at enterprise and entrepreneurship at a grassroots level. On the course you will be introduced to a whole bunch of entrepreneurial individuals and teams, not all of whom refer to themselves as ‘an entrepreneur’.

So if you can be ‘entrepreneurial’ (behave like an entrepreneur) without actually being an entrepreneur (starting a new business venture), who is ‘entrepreneurial’ and what can you do with your ‘entrepreneurialness’*?  We are committed to exploring this with you throughout the course, and to supporting each participant to draw their own conclusions about how they can make change in their own context. Our other commitment is to exploring your ideas, to collecting insights into what a solution looks like, and to help you to turn that idea into something tangible.

This course is about you; it is about your role, through your ideas, in making change. There are 3 main reasons why you should commit 3 hours per week, for 4 weeks to The Enterprise Shed:

  1. You will develop confidence in yourself as a ‘doer’. You will do this through analysing the behaviours of other entrepreneurial people that you will be introduced to on the course, and drawing conclusions about the way that they ‘do’ and what you might ‘do’ when approaching your own challenges, problems and projects.
  2. You will discover ideas that address problems you want to play a role in changing. You will do this through identifying problems, sharing them with others, creating and collaborating on ideas generation, and developing solutions together with peers on the course.
  3. You will have the opportunity to meet people and build networks.WE will do this by forming virtual and physical networks around the globe, which can outlive the end of the course. You will meet people that share your passions and drivers to make change in your world, find out where you can go for help, and collaborate to achieve impact.

The Enterprise Shed is not just a course, but a place where you can go to think, and critically, to do.

Join us from 15th February 2016 in The Enterprise Shed and Make your ideas happen”.

*Actually, you can also be ‘intrapreneurial’ (behave like an entrepreneur as an employee in someone else’s business), but I’ve tried and keep it simple for this post.”

Katie Wray
Lecturer in Enterprise

New Year, New Ideas, Your Opportunity

Come and make your ideas happen in The Enterprise Shed! This free online course starts on 15 February and lasts 4 weeks, with a time commitment of around 3 hours a week. It is led by Katie Wray, Lecturer in Enterprise from here at Newcastle University.

Join Katie on this highly interactive journey exploring and developing your own entrepreneurial mindset with a community of like minded people from all over the world.

“we were all sparking off each other and I really felt I was learning and being encouraged”

“I am now more confident about my big idea and am excited to get started”

“So inspiring, and exposing me to much more than I anticipated.”

On the course, you’ll meet a whole bunch of thinkers and doers; those just starting out, makers, tinkerers and experienced entrepreneurs. Sharing your ideas with them and other learners will encourage you to have more confidence to think and do more to create change and solve problems in your own world.

You don’t need any specific skills or experience – just passion and a willingness to get involved.

Sign up at www.futurelearn.com/courses/enterprise-shed

You can download a flyer too to share with your friends, colleagues and family.

Can anyone be an entrepreneur?

We had the chance to ask Sir Richard Branson a question at a ‘Mentor Me Branson’ event held at Newcastle University in March 2015.

Katie Wray asked the panel: ‘do you think any type of person can be entrepreneurial?’

After Jimmy Cregan and Sir Brian Souter answered here’s what Sir Richard Branson said:

I’ll try to be a bit more controversial.  I think that if you have got an idea that can make other people’s lives better, but you think I’m not necessarily entrepreneurially bent, I would say just forget that thinking and just try it. And I do think that, most people, if they try it, they’ll learn about it, and they may not become a serial entrepreneur, which is not necessarily a good thing, they may just want to specialise in that one thing that they have got a passion for.   So I think most people ought to be able to become entrepreneurs, if they put their mind to it.

We love this answer and will be exploring the theme of “enterpreneurial mindsets” further in the early stages of our  Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen course.

Katie Wray (Lecturer in Enterprise) is the lead educator for the four week course starting early in 2016.

 

A toast to post-it notes (for learning design)

A learner from the Enterprise Shed (Newcastle University’s third MOOC) shared one of his favourite TED talks, in which Tom Wujec, a designer who has studied how we share and absorb information, explains how he watched many people try to effectively describe and solve a ‘wicked problem’, such as the best way to make toast.

What was the most effective approach Wujec found?  Getting people with a range of skills to work together with post-it notes and paper to perfect the workflow. Interestingly he suggests it is even more effective when they work silently.

MOOC design

This struck a chord with us as we tend to work in similar ways when designing our MOOCs – though our team rarely work in silence (maybe something to try next time). We take cues from the JISC ViewPoints project and constructive alignment to plan and assemble each week of the course. With the academic team, we establish the audience, our motivations as well as those of the learners to clarify the aims and outcomes. We then use rolls of brown paper to create a course timeline, writing down what the learners must be able to do at the end of the course and for each week that they couldn’t do before they started. We ask how we/they will know they have attained this learning (some form of assessment in the loosest sense) and then plan activities and content that will get them to that point.

Post-it notes have the great advantage of being movable, whilst also allowing multiple people to contribute and collaborate on the whole. This is something Wikis aim to allow (though not always successfully). Started with pen and paper, rather than technology, helps us collectively produce something we can use very quickly and without many of the restrictions electronic tools tend to entail. As my colleague Nuala says, technology can get in the way at this stage.

Once planned on paper, we have found that using Trello is a bit like using post-it notes online, but with added ‘to do list’ and project management functionality. After planning on paper and in Trello, we then create the shell of the course in the FutureLearn platform. This helps visualise and restructure further, before testing on willing guinea pigs, and changing the design again. The bits we change and iterate the most tend to be the highest quality and most positively received elements of our courses.

MOOCs and collaboration

MOOCs themselves can become great collaborative spaces. We had many wonderful contributions from learners on our courses. For The Enterprise Shed, this was one of the lead-educator Katie Wray’s aims. The whole course was a bit like a World Cafe. We did as much as we could with the tools available to aid collaboration.  We crowd-sourced ideas links and videos (including favourite TED talks such as the one at the start of this post) . Learners also shared  designs through Padlet, another free collaborative technology which is a bit like paper and post-it notes. This is a great tool for sharing, but it could do with a commenting feature to facilitate feedback on posts.

Learners were able to gave each other feedback on ideas through comments in discussion and through the peer review tool in the platform.This was a really valuable element of the course, and something we would like to do more of.

Making MOOCs more collaborative

One of the tension for us with our courses at present is that the busier they are (the more active users) the harder it is to track what is going on in discussion boards, both for us and for the learners. It would be great if learners could tag posts so that people could find like-minded people and relevant posts more easily.

Small group discussions are coming in FutureLearn, but it will be wonderful if tools within MOOCs could be developed to aid the formation of groups around shared interests. Better still if we could have tools to collaborate in a way more like being in a room with paper and post it notes. We could really make a virtue of the Massive in MOOCs if we had these tools.

Jack Fisher’s story – becoming an ultra-lapse film maker

Jack

We feature clips from many enterprising people in the Enterprise Shed. We haven’t always had the opportunity to expand on their stories and how they made their ideas happen. One person featured is Jack Fisher (jackfisher.org) a Newcastle graduate who now specialises in motion-based Time-Lapse photography.

We love Jack’s work. See Newcastle in Motion for example.

Jack has always been interested in films and time lapse photography. His hobby has become his business in the last year. So how did he make it happen?

His advice is to just get out there and do it. Jack noticed that there were not many people making time lapse films in the UK and Europe. He was given a new film camera for his 21st birthday which he used to make a short film about the town he grew up in (Bath). He showed it to some city councillors who were so impressed that they commissioned a longer version which went viral. Jack has been inundated with work since then.

Jack used the Internet to research how to make these films. He says he was then in the right place at the right time, but the important things were having a go and showing people what he could do.