Social entrepreneurship/SSE Meeting of 20080807
<< The meeting took the form of a discussion about the the system under development with students of social entrepreneurship. The discussion is outlined below. Feel free to tidy it up and draw whatever learning and conclusions you can find.
Except where otherwise stated, text came from UP: representatives.
TUT:Do requests come from the NGO/CBOs ... ?
- Yes (usually via the university) -- Professor usually has contacts.
- Having database to review options in a community will be a value added to the project.
- Will need to work with professors/universities to begin to populate base line data of interested organizations.
TUT:How do we define “Community”?
- Need to define “community” - for service based / community-based learning etc.
- What not to include for student credit for community engagement, service learning, ...
- SE: takes service learning to another level
- not just working for a semester, walk away, ..
- but think re sustainability and broader implications.
- Challenges with community ownership and willingness to collaborate with students highlighted. Having database of willing organizations should help a bit with this challenge.
WBI:What types of activities?
- Ploughing, making gardens, teach how to take care of plants
- Computer training
- Career guidance for high school people
- Projects mainly in the locations – more are needed in other areas too
- The people there are not exposed to career guidance
- The issues include poverty, ..., hence gardening, ...
- We work with other universities – e.g. University of the North West in Potch – a sewing project, ...
- Mainly based at community centres
WBI:How did you identify the community?
- Mainly students look at a community they have always wanted to help
- e.g one's own home community
- But we have people working with distant communities such as Mpumalanga, Swaziland, etc.
- Sometimes according to the student's interests and abilities:
- Maths and Science for students.
- Engineering Week: show students, invite schools, etc.
- Zoo project: so we don't just work with people.
- Playground for kids in Mamelodi.
- Some projects need people to continue after studies ...
- Retaining people is a challenge.
With such a wide range of projects, how do you select/prioritise projects?
Gardening, literacy, poverty, ...
- Students who know the community – know what they need.
- Choose a project that would be most helpful under cost constraints.
- Before start projects: visit community, find out the situation and needs from them
- Process of understanding community needs, history, profile of leaders, etc should help students to better identify needs and assets and thus potential solutions/projects.
- decide how to help.
- Gary Marsden – UCT – big board – ask Mario.
MI:Can advisors change questions – e.g. profile elements?
- A: super-users. Not the Advisors (SNM)
WBI:Under each quest: are there study questions under each quest?
- Readings, etc. can be added under a library or perhaps even a link to this wiki and the curriculum section?
- MI:underlying philosophy – appreciative, financial terms too dominant, ...
- e.g. end point: “business plan” :-( try “thriving community working towards ...” - a suggestion from the mailing list).
- Language in the game should be reviewed but at this stage lets focus on broader concepts -- for instance "business plan" is not focused on making $ but on pulling together all of the concepts that are deemed important to defining a sustainable idea.
- WBI:Narrative needs to make it clearer what to do next. e.g. go from joining to ... to ... quests.
BC: Leadership and Team Structure?
- UP:Work in teams but a flat structure ...
- Roles should be clear -- team responsibilities on site should be helpful.
- WBI:A “Director” could send reports etc. for final approval.
- WBI:Are there additional external helpers?
- Welders, cutters of trees, etc. -- are skills that are needed.
- Supervisors at the site could also be team members.
Sometimes mentors (last year's students) help ... and assess current students.
- Under profile perhaps we should put down skills and what the student is studying so that directors can identify needed skills for a task from the community of users?
WBI: Who works where? How much time is spent with the community?
- Some know in advance, some need help.
- 40 hours in the community – 1 year module March – October assessment.
- Some spend more than 40 hours ... adding their own time to finish things they have started.
- e.g. help grade 1s, help slower learners keep up. Teachers felt these people are holding up the others.
- So, if school feels they need help, then it is up to the Principals.
- The system is built around a bus plan around some problem. (comment)
WBI: How do you actually engage with a school?
- We went to the school, and made an appointment with the Principal.
- Agreed on a process ... he sat us down and told us what was needed.
- He had previously approached the university staff member in charge of social entrepreneurship.
- Agreed on a process ... he sat us down and told us what was needed.
TUT:Does the business plan (in the game) include student costs?
- No, these are covered by the students and the university.
- It includes the logistic costs for the proposal.
- There is a financial planning section in the system
- but students are free to use other facilities to share their plans.
- The planning system makes suggestions e.g. reduce costs by using existing facilities.
WBI:Would you use this?
- At first, we “have to”, but after a while start enjoying what we are doing.
- It is unlikely for a student to do or use anything just because it is there.
- First: “have to”, then later “want to”.
- If use of the system was a requirement for the module, then students would use it.
WBI:How often are students in the community?
- Every week-end, also played cricket and other games there, etc.
WBI:What is a Realistic time frame for contest (to play out the game)?
- Most of the work is done during the March/April holidays and June holidays
BC: Are there any key underlying themes?
- Community empowerment
- Schools help: parents don't have time to care for their kids
- too busy sitting at home drinking ...
- Schools help: parents don't have time to care for their kids
TUT:Are communities Ready for the Interventions?
- Rural development. Issues: Limpopo. Communities not ready or not interested.
- There is “something” (more than interest, readiness, ...).
- Relevance. Why don't they respond accordingly?
- Rather ask them to tell us what they want us to do.
WBI:How ensure you are building on assets and supporting rather than coming and trying to “help”.
TUT:We talk to community leaders, often in a public meeting.
- Don't try to impress, but to try to get their cooperation.
- University supervisor provides us with organisations that need and want our help.
- Even with them: same problem: community just not responding.
- Research is needed.
- Some people in the communities sit and do nothing.
- They have high expectations but are not able to get up and do anything.
- Readiness: they feel defeated before starting.
- e.g. water ... not my priority ...
- e.g. spaza shop ... ok, that I can do ...
- The personal interest of people helps.
- e.g. 300 teachers grade 3-12. Started in Brits but had to leave because officials were not involved.
- Official: look at year end results: 19%. So, what to do? Carrot and stick.
- Entice the community to buy into the idea.
WBI: Challenges? How do we get feedback?
- Want to foster a sense of community among students.
- Post tips on message board.
- How share knowledge?
- It is an issue. With professional teachers, for example – possible.
- Lay people: more difficult.
- e.g. if they don't want us to come and help ... then it is difficult to cooperate.
WBI:Are previous efforts built upon?
- Using past work – possible? Building on past work and continuity? .. and retaining good ideas?
- Assuming organisations are pre-identified requesting work ... for 4-5 months.
- Evolve the idea ...
- Do a quest off-line and student uploads the data.
- Some communities: when students go there they expect students to do things for them but don't maintain the work/ results afterwards.
TUT:The challenge is how to understand the community, and how to “sell” the project so that we get buy-in from the community.
- e.g. schools do need assistance, but teachers do not see value. They will say talk to the Department of Education so we can get better salaries.
- The project should attract buy in.
- With learners and kids fine, but with adults: problem.
WBI:Sustainability issues with the project: addressing a “need” ... and when you leave?
- So, help students identify what are those needs and the demand, and then how ... get buy-in....
- How sustain after you have gone?
- Are there deeper issues? Overall need for e.g. 8 schools for playground equipment?
- Leaving the knowledge of how to do it available, ....
- Potential funders? Activities where there is a market ....
- Scale and sustain the idea.
- Systemic issues. Who else is working in this area. Partners. Total scope. Innovative solutions.
- e.g. merry go-rounds that also act as water pumps.
- Potential to make money or save money on energy, etc.
- Encourage students to think more deeply, laterally, longer, wider horizons, ...
- e.g. hundreds of such merry-go-round water pumps ... funds ....
- Is this beyond the scope of your social entrepreneurship studies?
- An interesting challenge. Exciting.
- May not always be able to get right people ....
- A good idea.
SNM:Even if the activity is a degree a requirement, it helps to have a tool to guide you.
- How to engage community more.
- How to get the community to understand you., and co-develop ideas in full understanding.
WBI:consider other channels: e.g. cell phone integration. e.g. points: SMS friends your latest score.
WBI: Would the quest matrix resonate with your process?
- First: understand community needs
- Finance should come way sooner.
- i.e. understand community, then get finance to engage and get going to implement a prototype solution.
BC:What if there is a “No go” situation?
- 40 hours spread over 8 months.
- When do you tell yourself: e are hitting our heads on a rock ... abandon and move on?
- One group could not get funding or community to cooperate.
- The project was too complicated.
- Their research indicated that the community had no interest, but they decided to go ahead anyway.
UP:UP supervisor might swap people around across projects.
2nd year: Engineering. Built Environment and IT.
- Key question: Do you understand what they need? Can you provide it?
BC: Team Structure?
BC:e.g. team of 8: is there a team leader, all directors?
What works better? One leader overseeing?
- Yes, the latter. As long as the leader has the right expertise.
- e.g. one has experience with welding
- others have experience of financing
- design of playground
- Someone must take responsibility ....
- For most groups, not everyone can do everything.
BC:Different roles, different projects?
- We were a small group. Call meetings and go through the questions one by one, agree? i.e. no one leader.
- System has two roles: team leader and support people.
- Don't have functionality to assign roles.
- After understanding community and identifying issues ...
- Do you brainstorm and prioritise? e.g. gardens vs first graders, ...
- The select and design processes ...
- Brainstorm and then focus on one.
- Something feasible, cost effective, faster (in between school time).
- Some would have had a bigger impact ... but we had to be realistic.
SNM:How much documentation?
- On web site: questions every week.
- Small assessment:
- what do you think about the module? ...
- what do you think about the community?
- what impact?
- presentation etc.
SNM:Do you have a copy of the project documentation?
- No – submitted on-line.
MI:Check out Martina's questions and consider embedding.
WBI:Are good ideas being lost?
You chose to do something achievable ... need to consider the other ideas.
- e.g. prototype, expensive, ... funding towards the prototype.
- Otherwise good ideas get lost.
UP:UP supervisor still has the good ideas for future reference.
MI:Tell us about the playground project
Story ... kids with nothing to do ... build a playground ... keeps them out of mischief ....
WBI:Did you have in mind that this could reduce delinquency and lead to a better life etc.?
UP:Yes – many kids play hookey ... now they have something to look forward to after class.
WBI:During design stage: swing designs?
UP:Multiple: wooden, jungle-gyms, etc. ...
Ultimately went with most effective long lasting.
WBI:Post workshop reflections
- Many of the projects that the students engage in are not immediately or clearly translatable into a sustainable enterprise -- Gardens, career guidance, math and science tutoring, etc. So we will need to add text in the narrrative and perhaps quests to emphasize creativity/innovative responses and sustainable longer term solutions to get students thinking beyond the limited (but useful) project of tutoring students for instance.
- The Narrative needs to be refined to help guide users through the site.
- UP students engage in projects from March to October and spend a minimum of 40 hours in a community. We should take this into account when putting together timeframe for project in Feb/March next year. For instance, do we run one longer contest or two shorter -- say 5 month contests (March to July?)
- Motivation to participate. The competition and awards will be key motivators along with encouraging professors to include in their grading. A marketing campaign will need to be thought through to advertise the event on the campuses.
- Community - Student engagement. It was interesting to hear the students perspectives on community motivation and willingness to take on projects themselves. When we think about the competition, we need to think through how to recognize/award the affiliate organizations as well as other community members to motivate them as well.
- Search for Financing. It seemed as if the students spent quite a bit of time searching for funding to do the prototype. This sparked a couple of thoughts -- first, need for some quests earlier in the process to encourage students to use the network to identify potential seed funding and to think about costs for prototype and second the need to try to connect additional "angel investors" as part of game to provide a bit of seed money up front. Or perhaps, have a fund in place to reward those students with small remuneration as they hit a certain milestone in the game?
- Evaluation. We need to discuss evaluation questions with Martina at UP to include the system.
- Problem statements. Need to find a way to preserve problem statements even if students do not work on a solution to those statements both as a history of issues identified in a certain community as well as a pool of issues for future students to potentially tackle.
- MxiT -- need to integrate someone onto site as students identify as popular technology.
- Pilot -- we need to think through timing of the pilot or scope and scale as Oct to Jan seem to be months where universities will have little to no time for such a pilot. Perhaps we have a smaller scale pilot or we open it up to a much larger community with the expectation that we will capture a smaller sample for the pilot? We need to give this some thought.
- Game v. Project management tension. We need to keep this focused on aspects that encourage students to engage in the sytem and address the quests while at the same time having the system be a useful tool for students to work through their projects and connect with others.
- Student follow up -- lets discuss student follow up as we need to send them a message to get their feedback. And perhaps a one on one phone follow up?
- Language. Business plan v. idea proposal or grail or whatever. We can always change the names of things. I guess while being sensitive to names we need to not get too caught up at this stage and keep the concept in mind.
- Skills. Perhaps on profile we add something to identify what the student is studying and other skills he/she has. This would then help the teams to identify what different memebers could take on or scope out the broader community for help with a specific task -- ie welding; or financial plan, etc.
This was followed by lunch and some general discussion ... Then we asked one of the students to recount the whole story of one of the projects. During the telling the figure below was sketched – a generic process for such projects which is closely aligned with the game framework under development.