Physics Connections

Hello everyone,

My submission has three components; a website , an informational brochure (you may also use the link on the “About Physics Connections page) and, most importantly, the transcript of my interview with an EVA (division superintendent).

I chose to do an intrepreneurial venture so I am pitching to my ficticious Superintendent.  In your evaluations of my pitch, please decide whether you would, as the Board of Education, accept my proposal to allow the implementation of Physics Connections in your school division and pay for summer training for three pilot teachers.

 ** Just a note.  I tried repeatedly to do a Picture in Picture recording of Powerpoint and webcam in Camtasia but lost pieces of data in the publishing or uploading of the Flash file.  Anyone had a similar experience?  Advice?

Susan

15 comments


1 Michael Awmack { 11.24.08 at 9:08 pm }

Susan, although I found it a little difficult to get a sense of your venture from your informational brochure, I took a quick look at your website and was impressed by the possibilities of your venture. I think your venture could be better introduced with an at-a-glance point-form summary of the key aspects of your venture. This might make it easier for the casual EVA to pick up on the concept in 30 seconds or less. Great venture idea!


2 Bruce Spencer { 11.25.08 at 9:56 am }

Susan

You’ve done a terrific job of presenting your venture for Physical Connections. You have supported your argument with relevant examples at a district and provincial level. This should be all the ammunition you need to convince others to at least consider expanding your proposal to include other locations at least on a trial bases.

This resource depends on acquiring additional resources such as teaching personal. It’s unclear as to whether or not your proposal is based on volunteers or are you asking the board to mandate this as part of a curriculum in order to get the personal you need to run the program?


3 Cheryl Milner { 11.25.08 at 1:27 pm }

Hi Susan,

This is an important project and I sincerely hope that your school board sees the important inroads you have made in creating a prototype for future projects.

Your initial approach was to establish your personal bona fides as a teacher, no problem. Then you went on to explain the problem as the depopulation of rural Saskatchewan and its compounding effects, namely, funding reductions, teacher cuts etc. Then we were introduced to Physics Connections which I understand as a technological means to deliver content (a new curriculum design?) throughout that area.

It may have been helpful to understand the problem and your proposed solution earlier in the presentation, but perhaps that is just a stylistic approach.

I admit I was confused by the content around completion rates for aboriginal students, is it your belief that Physics Connection will help support these children if they are not always attending school? Missed that point.

I like the sample you included and thought the interview approach gave the EVA good insight into the project and its challenges. I would recommend that funding go through on your project.

Best of luck! Let me know if it really happens, cmilner@telus.net

Cheryl


4 Jagpal Uppal { 11.25.08 at 8:54 pm }

Hi Susan,

I liked the idea of your proposal and I think it has a lot of potential. Leveraging from experiences and expert teachers will benefit all classrooms, not just those from distance education. In terms of your presentation, I found it informative and promising. As you develop a prototype, I would suggest using some testimonials for your pitch. You mention dealing with aboriginal students, and completion rates, and I wonder what their ‘take’ would be on this venture.

As a school board, I would fund/partner in this venture.
Good luck with Physics Connections!

Jag


5 David Wees { 11.26.08 at 9:37 pm }

Assessing the Need

You’ve found a clear niche for your product. Rural communities which lack enough students to justify the hiring of a Physics teacher.

Well-defined Target

Again, your target audience is well defined and clearly explained.

Management

You’ve got a management structure, and like most small ventures, you’ve included yourself as part of the management team. What I don’t see is a plan for increasing the size of the management team (note: I’m not refering to the contributions team which you have outlined) as your venture grows.

Creativity

Your idea is excellent, and the sub-idea of allowing teachers to have private blogs with their classes is a good one. It’s almost worth separating these two ideas into 2 ventures.

Feasibility

Since you are already using this venture, you’ve clearly got feasibility resolved, yes it is obviously possible.

Planning

You have a clear plan for immediate growth over the next couple of years, but I would have liked to see a more comprehensive plan for the next 10 years, etc…

Operations

What operations are necessary for this venture on a day to day basis?

Sustainability

Clearly your venture is sustainable since there will always be communities on the edge of civilization who lack a qualified Physics teacher.

Social Impact

Since this allows rural students to learn Physics, it opens up many pathways for these students. This is an excellent idea, and will make a difference in the rural communities it impacts.

Presentation

Your presentation is good. I liked how you split it up into an interview and a video. Since on my hideously slow internet connection I wasn’t able to see the video, the interview was very useful. Maybe for next time a separate download link would be nice.

Comments
A good venture idea, I think you’ll do well in the future with this venture.


6 Drew Murphy { 11.26.08 at 11:28 pm }

Hi Susan: Lots has been said already, so I’ll fill in some of the gaps. Your idea is a needed one and targets a need that technology is uniquely able to fill. I think your presentation does a great job of proving the importance and rationale for such an approach. My suggestion is one of perspective in that your pitch is, perhaps aimed more at other educators and less on investors. As an educator I was easily persuaded by your background and credentials, your passion and knowledgeable understanding of the issues. An EVA might not be as persuaded by your methodical approach. Making your concept pitch leaner and more essential would make your pitch punchier and even more impressive. (But I’m no expert. You could say the same about my pitch.) One more iteration of this pitch and I think you could really nail it. Good job!


7 cwickes { 11.27.08 at 9:14 pm }

Well done, Susan. Similar to my pitch and several others, you are focused on pitching to a school board rather than other types of investors, which makes for a different type of information that is necessary to impart. With technology and web 2.0 making inroads in education and distance education being particularly needy for new and innovative resources and techniques, I think your idea definitely fits the bill. Your pitch was highly credible and the concept of bringing high quality physics teachers to classrooms via a multimedia approach was excellent. I would support the implementation of ‘physics connections’ as a pilot program for at least three years.


8 Jarrod Bell { 11.27.08 at 9:53 pm }

Well you had me engaged as soon as I saw Physics in the title. I also had a big smile for the inclusion of traditional Aboriginal knowledge and authentic content. You have my undivided attention!

As I and Cori have mentioned you are pitching to the board and this is quite different than pitching to angel investors. Boards have heard many pitches for projects and your credibility and involvement in education and Saskatchewan speaks volumes to them. Boards expect that as well as someone who is confident, committed and knowledgeable about their venture. This was obvious to me throughout your videos. As the TED video from earlier in the course on pitching mentioned that integrity was the most important aspects in a pitch. I felt that from you.

This is a market that is not isolated to rural Saskatchewan. I think after the successful pilots that you should continue with Math Connections and seriously look at licensing your approach to other companies or to expand your company to other provinces as well. Perhaps the licensing to other companies would be an acceptable exit strategy for the next pitch after a successful pilot.

Great presentation!

Jarrod


9 Crystal Pullman { 11.29.08 at 9:06 pm }

Hi Susan,
You definitely have a great idea, as others have shown in their posts!

I like that you began by explaining who you are, why you’re qualified to be heading this project up. It really creates a sense of familiarity, and also shows that you’ve been experiencing the problems yourself, and thus have found a solution to solve that problem.

You have proven the need for your product to your investors by showing relevant data, particularly the map showing the depopulation in rural Saskatchewan. It shows that your product has a ready market to enter into, and through defining your product and its goals you also show that it can be successful. I also like the references that you’ve included to support your proposed program with Physics Connections.

It is also great that you have included the potential expansion, Math Connections, for when Physics Connections succeeds. I think offering Physics Connections for free to help market your products, and then offering Math Connections as a product for a price is a great idea. (I can’t recall where I read this, but I think I read it somewhere, right?)

I believe that your venture would also be successful in the long term, because you have shown that the depopulation in rural Saskatchewan is an ongoing and continuing trend. Teachers will be needed for schools, however they can’t afford to hire more teachers based on their student population, and your product will be there to solve the gap they have between needing teachers and needing funding.

I enjoyed the website, informational brochure, and videos that you posted to help market your venture to investors. I had some issues with the first video (Physics Connections Home), because it appears that the area for the video is smaller than the video itself, so images you were showing were cut off on the right side. For example, at the beginning what I see is:

Susan Wilso
Educational Intrapre

Overall, I think you have a great idea, and I think that if I were an actual investor, I would choose to invest in your venture.

Great job!


10 Deepika Sharma { 11.30.08 at 3:11 am }

Hello Susan,

I enjoyed your pitch presentation. Everyone has already pointed out the strengths and suggested improvements as they perceive it so I will quickly do mine as a few bullets here (also since i am experiencing connectivity problems and am at a commercial centre) –

Strengths:
a) Your passion for the project shows through quite clearly – this is a huge advantage in an education scenario particularly.
b) The pitch is clear, precise and self-explanatory.
Areas for improvement:
a) I would not start with Maths when really Physics is the subject – I thought there was a disconnect out there.
b) A bit on what could have been the cost of training and setting up content – some ball park figures would have been nice.

Overall – well done! Would like to see you with a detailed project plan in my office next week 🙂

Cheers!

Deepika the EVA


11 David De Pieri { 11.30.08 at 1:18 pm }

Very calming voice, you should have been in the Nature of Things along side David Suzuki 😉

I started at your Web Site and found the video very informative, if Mike A. found the brochure confusing, maybe next time a mention to start at the Web Site and video, then brochure…

The statement by George Siemens is a fairly board brushed statement, I hope we don’t wait around only to find out he is wrong… The quote by Alvin Toffler- “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” This statement makes more sense to me as ‘Yes’, we need to integrate many 21st century skills into the completely different society we have created.

Great visuals with the “Cube Analysis of Physics Connections” on the brochure. Like I mentioned earlier… seeing the brochure after the video, brought the package together.

Very good presentation, Susan… I am sold, a couple questions for you…

a/ – At 4:36 minutes, why is the aboriginal population continuing to grow, when all other rural districts are shrinking…? Is there a huge component of First Nations who are dedicated to specific region in Sask? Are you aware of the same sort of growth in Manitoba or Alberta of young First Nations?
b/ – At the interview document with Mrs. Watson, is it Vivian, Velda, Veronica or Valerie or how about “Hey lady?” That’ll get ya somewhere…

Thank you, a great presentation.

ddp


12 Michael Peterson { 11.30.08 at 10:17 pm }

Susan,

You were the third podium finisher of the 11 pitches I reviewed.

I checked each presentation against four weighted scores – your performance below:

Considered Solution: 20/25
Good Problem: 20/25
Informed Player: 25/30
Managed Problems: 16/20

As other commentators have mentioned, your perspective as a regionally-informed educator made a huge difference in the level of confidence we could have in your read of the opportunity. I noticed your written material and video-pitch seemed to cover slightly different territories. Although this made the pitch less forceful than it could have been, I still see the initiative as extremely realistic, viable, and worthwhile.

Hope that we get updates on this over the next couple of years.


13 Jim Tattrie { 11.30.08 at 10:54 pm }

I feel a bit alone here when I say that I didn’t get it. Yes your argument is good, but how is your offering to bring quality educators to rural students any different than the many distance education programs that are currently available? I’m sure that it is, but how?

With distance education being where it is today, I’m thinking of applications like Elluminate Live, it would seem that school districts have every opportunity to connect rural students with specialist teachers. If a school lacks the in house specialist teacher that they need, I would think that they could supply computer access and have that student register with a distance ed. service, no different than if they were a student unable to attend a brick and mortar school yet still needing the course.

Your presentation was very good though. I liked the way that you attempted to head off possible questions with your interview transcript. Good technique, I thought.


14 Susan Wilson { 12.01.08 at 12:08 pm }

Thanks for all the comments. If I ever do take this to the board, I know where to make improvements.

Jim, your questions are sound. One thing that you may not know is that Saskatchewan Education is trying to shut down their Technology Supported Learning branch and is requiring divisions to build internal capacity or pay (barter) for services between divisions.

I am currently teaching Physics 20 online. I teach it as any teacher would teach a class face-to face. Why not let other teachers collaborate with me in both teaching and preparing? Why not let students from the entire division collaborate?

I think that my proposal is different in that it would be like a pre-packaged (yet allowing for individualization) course that embraces a connectivist philosophy. The course would have detailed student tracking and management services (like Blackboard or Moodle) but would be subject specific and embrace a connectivist approach. This means that it would facillitate web 2.0 connections in a secure manner.

There would also be an open tutorial component created and distributed for altruistic and promotional reasons.

I did a study of Physics tutorials for ETEC 522 Assignment #2 and, while there is a lot of information freely available, much of it is written at a post-secondary level. My favorite, The Physics Classroom, is a great resource, but it is getting so dated. It is more like on online text that contains animations.

I know that my proposal is simple in comparison to many others, but it is an intrapreneurial venture designed to satisfy a local need. Yes, there are other options, but this is a quality one : )


15 Susan Wilson { 12.01.08 at 12:13 pm }

David –

Good catch on the names. I even used the Find/Replace function in an attempt to find all instances.

Being predominantly a Math teacher, I use every advantage that I can when writing. My strategy here was to write like I was actually speaking to our superintendant who is also a friend. My efforts to conceal her identity are laughable – I will have to apologise!

Thanks for the responses!

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