We recently put a little video together to explain the potential to a group of investors and thought it might be useful to post it on our blog too.  Not all of it is relevant as you are not viewing the video through our portal, but if you are interested in the technology that supports the platform, then this video maybe of interest.  If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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MoF Experience Portal

The Ministry of Future digital platform has been designed to facilitate multiple experiences that can be based upon a particular topic, subject or narrative.  These experiences can last for one day, four weeks or the whole school year.  Each experience has the following features:

  • an invitation code so that the school can control how many students can access it at any one time
  • it will require students to work in teams or individually to solve puzzles, complete tasks or attend specific events.  The main purpose of our design is to blend and merge the physical experience of the classroom , school and local community, with the interactive experience of the digital world.
  • the number and nature of the tasks and challenges can vary.  Tasks can require the students to complete online quizzes, puzzles or games, they can be designed to compliment subjects and classes, requiring the participants to upload work;  or they can be specific events that require the students to attend a location and complete set challenges.  In each case the students must provide evidence that they have completed the task in order to get the rewards.
  • rewards can include points (leaderboard), badges (status), tangible prizes or media files.

When we were designing the platform we were very conscious that the Teacher is very busy and we need to ensure the technology can take away a lot of the management time.  The platform therefore allows Teachers to view all evidence and award extra points for creativity etc.  They can add new tasks and change live experiences and view management information based on activity.

We said in a previous post that we also wanted to compliment academic studies.  We wanted to design a solution that would enable schools to run one of the MoF experiences at anytime of the school year and decide how long it would last.  Instead of being a continual activity that runs throughout the year, that can lead to boredom, our approach enables schools to run rich and interactive experiences for two weeks, four weeks or even one day.

All of this is very ‘techie’, but how does it bring industry closer to schools?  How does it enable us to provide context to learning?  And, how does it help develop the softer skills young adults need to develop?

The opportunity

Imagine a single portal that could unlock a multitude of rich, interactive, real-world experiences, each tackling different aspects of industry, skills requirements or jobs.  One could be designed to tackle the engineering sector where the video provides background to what it is like to work within the sector, before the presenter (maybe James Dyson) begins asking the students to complete challenges.  The challenges could be integrated into subject time or they could be after-school activity.  The students could work in teams to complete multiple tasks or one single task.  The teachers would be able to access support packs that explain how to reward students and what skills the industry would want to encourage and why.  The whole thing could be created and packaged centrally and then delivered to all schools digitally.   With this platform, we could have experiences that tackle every subject and job, from nursing to writing; from plumbing to working in the banking sector.  Each would be managed by a unique invite code and can be designed to be as simple or complex as needed.  Each can target different year groups or even academic ability.  The flexibility is there.

Video Summary

We recently put a little video together to explain the potential to a group of investors and thought it might be useful to post it on our blog too.  If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Dreams it

The Abraham Guest Academy in Wigan was selected as the school to pilot our initial ideas.  The Principle, Paul Bousefield, is very forward-thinking  and open to new ways to engage students in their personal development.   Paul and his team had already split the five academic years into three ‘states of mind’: Dream it (Year 7), Believe it (Year 8 and 9) and Achieve it (Year 10 and 11).  The thinking behind these ‘states’ struck a chord with our design team.

In Year 7, students arrive from Primary School still full of dreams about what they want to be in life.  Many want to be authors, film stars, footballers or, in many cases, more than one of these glamourous careers.  As the child develops within the school environment, many students begin to realise that they may not achieve their dreams.  The ‘Believe it’ state of mind is to not let go of your dreams, but maybe recognise that there are other careers that are closely linked to them.  For example, many students would want to work in TV or films, but they will only be aware of a few job roles, mainly the Actor, Camera Operator and maybe Director.  In fact there are over 250 jobs within the industry.  The same applies to Football.  Just because you cannot play for Manchester United does not mean you cannot work for Manchester United.

Year 8 and 9 are critical years in the students development.  Feeling all grown up and settled into ‘Big School’, students can often lack focus as they have not selected their options and are not focused on passing exams.  Yet they will be asked what options they want to take and many will not have any idea what they want to be or do for the rest of their lives.  Many will lack confidence and self belief too,  as they are being judged constantly based on their academic ability.  The digital industry, in this country, for example, is crying out for creative thinkers, people who have a brain that can think differently and challenge the norm.  How many such ‘thinkers’ are slipping through the net because they struggle with Maths and English?  How do we train or prepare tomorrow’s entrepreneurs from an early age? Where are the next James Dyson’s or Richard Branson’s? Critically, during these important two years, Students are given little context to their learning or exposure to the wide variety of careers available to them.  Many do not understand the importance of the softer skills too.  Why is it important to turn up on time?  Why is it important to be able to work in a team, or be able to present to a group with confidence?  If we, as a nation, could help our students understand the wider opportunities that await them and give them confidence that, not matter what their academically ability might be, they still have an important role to play, then we might begin creating a workforce and society that is fighting fit for the challenges of the 21st Century.

Even though we are not Teachers, nor do we profess to be experts in any way, many of us are parents and we deeply care about this subject.  We also want to compliment academic studies, but try and think of ways we can bring the real world of work and personal development nearer to the lives of students, in a way that is fun and not disruptive.   The Teaching profession can be a scary profession to engage with.  You get the feeling you are ‘outsiders’ who are criticising, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.  But you only have to read the news and see what is happening with youth unemployment, the impact on an aging population who are working longer and the global political and economic crisis, to see that there is a real need to wake up and acknowledge that the world has changed, fundamentally, and we need to adapt with it.     This sentiment has been backed up by the recent survey conducted by the Education and Employers Taskforce, which identified a massive mismatch between young people’s career expectations and the reality of the jobs available (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21762564).  The report talks off serious ‘information gaps’ in students understanding of the possible careers and points to the lack of funding in careers advice and the change that push responsibility down to schools, many of who ignore it (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20452398).  But who is best equipped to fill this gap?  A teacher, who may never have been outside of the education system, or industry themselves?  Maybe it needs a four way partnership between student, teacher, parent / guardian and industry?  Maybe we need to understand that to get someone to act, we need to motivate them to act and then provide the tools to help them discover.  It is a bit of a wicked problem that has multiple layers, but we thought it was a problem worth having a go at.

Ministry of Future

Earlier this year we were asked to put our connected thoughts together and consider one of the biggest questions facing every parent, employer and Government official: how do we prepare young people for the opportunities and demands of the 21st Century?

Those that know us well understand that we are not intellects, nor do we profess to be experts, but if you dig around a bit and join up the dots, it is easy to see there is a real issue facing this country.  Whether or not you’re one of those that belief that we still teach children our pasts and not their futures, there is no denying that the world is undergoing a massive transition – socially, politically and economically –  all of which is affecting the prospects of the next generation of workforce.    The impact of technology, shifts in economic powers and trends, such as outsourcing, or automating, traditional right-brain ‘knowledge work’ to other countries, especially Asia, have left many Western countries facing skills shortages in key areas. The education system stands accused, by some, of not adapting to these new demands.  Many believe that young people and teachers need greater awareness of the job prospects that now exist in industry, and greater knowledge of how industry works and what working  in industry might entail.  Universities and Employers are also saying that schools should be focusing, as much, on the development of the softer skills needed in life, such as communication and team work; placing these in real – world context so that students can understand why they are important.   The issue is so important, where do you begin?

The beginning

When we sat down to begin the design process, we set out to compliment academic studies with a unique approach to bring industry closer to schools, helping the development of key, industry- relevant, life skills that would provide context to learning.  We wanted to use digital, not as a destination for the experience, but as a facilitator of the experience.   The experiences needed to be real, taking place within the school, amongst fellow students and the surrounding community.  We wanted to create something that would help young people reflect on the meaning and mission of their lives, building the self-belief, confidence and determination needed to achieve personal satisfaction and professional success in whatever they chose to do.  And most important of all, we wanted to create a destination that could unlock multiple experiences, each tailored to a specific industry, skill or purpose.  The Ministry of Future (MoF) was born.

Over the coming days, I will update the blog to detail what we did, why we did it and give examples of the possible opportunities.