Opportunity, Uncertainty and Effectuation concepts: a student onboarding experience through a board game ESHIP:NAvigating Uncertainty

Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit
Aarhus University

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Taru Deva

Entrepreneurship is a challenging subject to teach especially when you as an educator do not necessarily have all the answers. This can be both challenging for students or for You want to provide students with experiential and real-world learning, an increasingly accepted format for teaching entrepreneurship (Cooper and Gordon, 2004; Tete and Borges, 2014) albeit within the safety of a classroom, which is not always easy to achieve. Concepts such as effectuation (Sarasvathy, 2001), opportunity recognition (Shane and Venkataraman, 2004) and uncertainty handling (Shepherd & McMullen, 2006) are increasingly being recognized as essential concepts to teach students, not only entrepreneurship, but also future-skills and making them prepared in an uncertain future. However, these topics are still challenging to adopt for students who are used to prescription-based learning and goal-targeted learning behavior. This is where the board game ESHIP:Navigating Uncertainty comes in. It is designed to simulate some of the core elements of early-entrepreneurship in an intense two-hour simulation where you work together as a team and go through a subtly-embedded design-thinking process, all under conditions of uncertainty. The game is both collaborative and competitive at the same time and as much as you try and gain control, the game has enough moving parts that will remove that control from you. Thus, you can never eliminate uncertainty in the game but just try your level best to reduce it with the aim being to reduce it more than your peers in the time that you have been given. Furthermore, the setting is effectual right from start and the players have to look at the means and starting team as resources even before they know what problem they will solve. Secondly uncertainty is introduced in the game right from the start in terms of instructional uncertainty as very minimal instructions are provided and the students have to figure out the rules of the game and the process by themselves without support from the educator. The automatic response of an educator when a student asks a “how” question in the game is “I don’t know – you have to figure it out”. This change in power structure in the classroom is also an embedded learning goal that emphasizes the role of the educator as a facilitator of a process but not an expert or a “teacher” in the classic sense of the word.

This workshop was initially designed to be a physical one but as we all adapt to the uncertainty that the Covid19 situation has thrown at us, and this game is also about uncertainty, I thought why not adapt here as well and instead of cancelling this workshop – this workshop will now be offered in a slightly different format than initially imagined. The topic will be the same and the content focus will remain the same: “how to teach – Effectuation concepts, uncertainty concepts and opportunity recognition concepts in a classroom”. However, after a short round of introduction, we will quickly delve into trying to design a game-based-learning experience ourselves for our classroom with these three concepts in focus. Groups will be divided into 3-4 participants, who will then work with each other on one of the highlighted concepts and be taken through a tightly controlled design workshop. By tightly controlled – we only refer to time restrictions (which will be 3 sessions of 15 minutes each) but ZERO creative restriction. So I do invite you to be creative. We will then reconvene as a bigger group, share our findings but also compare the approach of the ESHIP:NavigatingUncertainty Game and compare and contrast the creative responses from each group. This workshop is open to all but would be of special interest to both novice as well as experienced educators. We will be using Zoom and Mural in the workshop