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November 17, 2007 / Ben Chun

Industrial Revolution Project

Two of the classes that I teach are part of the Academy of Information Technology. It’s a 3-year elective program for students, in which they get in-depth hands-on experience during the school year and a summer internship between junior and senior year. In practice, some of them only stay in the program for 1 or 2 years and not all of them do internships because of other summer commitments — including summer school! But even at these different levels of participation, we get a coherent group of students because in addition to taking their elective classes together, they are also in the same English and social studies class. So they take 3 of their 6 classes every day with the same students, which is pretty rare in a school of 2300. This grouping also allows the teachers to collaborate on projects that work across the curriculum.

Today, I am starting to plan one such project. The basic idea is to study Industrial Revolution technology using the business perspective of today. Students from the other section of the 10th grade AOIT class, studying web design, will help students from my section, studying technology-based businesses, build out web sites with the following information:

  • Description of invention, including diagrams and pictures to explain how it works and what it does
  • Year of invention and historical context (this is vague, help me out)
  • Value proposition (how it saves money or time or gives better results to the customer)
  • Customer profile (what kind of person will buy this, who are they)
  • Competitive analysis (things your potential customers might buy instead)
  • Marketing plan (how you advertise/sell it to your potential customers)
  • Market size assessment (how many people might buy this)
  • Investor pitch (how you get someone to give you money to start this business)

Do you think this kind of thing is useful for students? Or am I just throwing them into an arbitrary hell of business terminology when they signed up to play with computers?

3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. BlogTeacher / Nov 18 2007 2:39 am

    I think it’s worthwhile but the student may take a little convincing and explaining *how* it’s relevant.

    In the ‘real world’ after all they won’t be given a list of instructions for a project “use this font, that formula, that query, this website”. They’ll get an aim or a specification and be left to get on with it.

    That sort of independant work is where projects score I think. They help bring it all together, using the skills in a realistic context. That’s an important set of skills.

  2. Lukas / Nov 18 2007 12:31 pm

    I think it’s useful but I also think that a lot of Industrial Revolution inventions were so foundational that the answers to questions like “customer profile” or “market size” will be almost trivial. Maybe that was intentional on your part, though.

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  1. Industrial Revolution « And Yet It Moves

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