Degree apprenticeships in Plymouth

Penny Hele – Inspiring Futures project officer at Plymouth University – writes on LinkedIn that Plymouth University now offers ‘degree apprenticeships’. The courses they have at present are a Chartered Manager programme run by the Business School and a four year degree in Digital & Technology Solutions.

The idea of a Degree Apprenticeship is that:

  • businesses collaborate with universities and colleges in order to offer vocational degree courses which combine academic study with practical experience and wider employment skills;
  • apprentices split their time between university study and the workplace and are employed throughout;
  • they gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree from a university while earning a wage and getting real on-the-job experience in their chosen profession;
  • the cost of course fees is shared between government and employers, meaning that the apprentice can obtain a full bachelors or even masters degree without paying any fees.

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Paul Saffo on ‘the creator economy’

“Mass participation became the new normal. Stuff is cheap; status comes from creation. Value is created by engagement.”

Saffo advised recalling four warnings for revolutionaries. 1) There are winners and losers. 2) Don’t confuse early results with long-term outcomes. 3) Successful insurgents become over-powerful incumbents. 4) Technologies of freedom become technologies of control …. If we want privacy now, we have to pay extra for it. As with our smart phones, we will subscribe to self-driving cars, not own them. With our every move tracked, we are like radio-collared bears. Our jobs are being atomized, with ever more parts taken over by robots. We trade freedom for convenience.

Over the 30 or so years remaining in the Creator Economy, Saffo figures that we will redefine freedom in terms of interdependence, and he closed with Richard Brautigan’s poem about a ‘cybernetic ecology’ where we are all watched over by machines of loving grace.”


From The Times supplement on The Future of Learning

EdTechX-Europe – Europe’s biggest edtech conference, held in London

Emerge Education

  • tracks more than 23,000 edtech startups world-wide;
  • provides startups with up to £100,000 of investment;
  • provides dedicated co-working space and accelerator programme;
  • supports product testing and sales.

Gojimo – apps for revision and tutoring

Show My Homework – Set, track and grade homework digitally

Memrise – app to learn languages

VitalSource – electronic text books; tracking tools that allow for monitoring of usage and student progress; tools to help educators deliver content and monitor engagement to help ensure student success. Dr Phil Gee, Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Plymouth, says it “runs one of the largest UK eTextbook programmes“.

Pi-Top – software plus hardware based on Raspberry Pi to help teach across science, technology, engineering and maths.

Boolino – website where expert bloggers, booksellers, librarians and teachers help children find new books to read.

Fiction Express – interactive resource for literacy where primary school pupils take part in the story-writing process and can change the plot while the author is writing it.

Learning & Development research firm Ambient Insight divides Gamefied learning into four categories:

  • game-playing to achieve learning objectives;
  • simulations to teach skills in an immersive environment;
  • points, badges and leader boards as a means of motivation; and
  • gamification – the use of rewards to motivate behaviour in a non-game context.

Key ideas in The Lean Startup

Reference: ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Reis

Entrepreneurship requires a managerial discipline to harness the entrepreneurial opportunity.

Lean startup adapts ideas from lean thinking to the context of entrepreneurship, viz drawing on the knowledge and creativity of individual workers, the shrinking of batch sizes, just-in-time production and inventory control, and an acceleration of cycle times.

Lean startup uses ‘validated learning’ as a unit of progress.

Startups have an engine of growth. Every new version of a product, every new feature, and every new marketing program is an attempt to improve this engine of growth. … not all of these changes turn out to be improvements, new product development happens in fits and starts. Much of the time in a startup’s life is spent tuning the engine by making improvements in product, marketing, or operations.

The Lean Startup method involves driving the startup by making constant adjustments with a steering wheel called the Build – Measure – Learn feedback loop. Through this process of steering, learn when and if it’s time to make a sharp turn called a pivot or whether to persevere along the current path.

Throughout the process of driving the startup there is a destination in mind: a thriving business – the startup’s vision. To achieve that vision startups employ a strategy which includes a business model, a product road map, a point of view about partners and competitors, and ideas about who the customer will be. The product is the end result of this strategy.

Products change constantly through the process of optimization (tuning the engine of growth). Less frequently, the strategy may have to change (called a pivot). However, the overarching vision rarely changes. Entrepreneurs are committed to seeing the startup through to that destination.

Tom Eisenmann

My Photo

 is a professor at Harvard Business School who studies startup management and tech entrepreneurship. In 2011 he developed a new course at Harvard Business School: Launching Tech Ventures. His blog contains some valuable resources.


First explorers

Sustainability – what it means and how business should engage with the concept – has been a recurring theme over the past few years for my MSc research students at the University of Warwick. Recently I attended a workshop entitled Flourishing is the Outcome at Plymouth University’s Futures Entrepreneurship Centre. It was run by Antony Upward of Edward James Consulting Ltd. An updated set of the slides Antony used are here. He explained that his work was an extension of the business model ontology developed by Alex Osterwalder. Then he showed how the resulting Flourishing Business Canvas and its associated toolkit enable us to describe strongly sustainable business models, i.e. businesses which are sufficiently profitable while simultaneously creating social and environmental benefits. I was impressed: the approach ties together the various strands in a beautifully elegant way.

Two of my students this year are doing an MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Their projects require each to develop a business model and the Flourishing Business Canvas might be an excellent tool for that purpose. So I have approached Antony to explore the possibility of us joining his group of First Explorers who, in return for giving feedback on their experience using the tool (so that it can be improved) get a free license to use the Flourishing Business Innovation Toolkit including the Canvas. Background information about all this is in the links below.

Three minute video to introduce the ideas
A 300 word explanation in plain English
One page overview of the research project
A deeper dive into the ideas
Details of the evaluation process

Antony presented a colloquium covering the research behind the Flourishing Business Canvas on 5 December at the University of Hamburg.  The Prezi presentation he made is here and the video of the presentation is available here.