Zooming out

Date: 01/12/2020


By AIPC CEO Sven Bossu and Westminister University visiting lecturer Mark Bannister.

Universities and organised events face a similar challenge: how to create communities in an environment in which on Monday you are allowed to bring people physically together and by Wednesday you need to switch to fully digital?

This is not a theoretical question: local authorities, with the lessons learned earlier this year in mind, want to shift gears quickly – leaving the community impact to be managed by universities and event organisers.

For the sake of simplicity, let us consider university colleges in parallel with organised events, they both aim to bring individuals together for a common cause: to get a better understanding of a topic as a group and to stimulate each other to explore routes which will potentially enrich the subject matter. Sounds like they both have a lot in common. And the key success factor is the same: the interaction between the members of the community. Then the ‘switch on/switch off’ ban on bringing people together comes in.

Fortunately, universities and the event industry have another thing in common: great, creative minds which understand that innovative ideas are a network.

Universities and event venues both understood quickly that platforms needed to be created, allowing them to cope with uncertainty and to have a Plan B on continuous standby. From an event venue’s perspective, this allowed them to create a new value proposal: provide event organisers with a service offer which allows them to switch from physical to hybrid and to digital. However, creating connectivity alone, does not have interaction as a logical consequence – a bit more effort is required.

And here, both universities and the event ecosystem need to look outside the box – or rather look into a different box such as the gaming area. The key force of virtual gaming is the creation of challenges which can be shared by a community, allowing that community to grow as a group.

Translated into education and organised events, this means models need to be found whereby individuals can team up and jointly accept a challenge – resulting both in the creation of a real community and (potentially) of innovative ideas.

A simple model could look like this: a participant attends a set of lectures around a specific topic. At the end, they are presented with a set of challenges related to the topic. However, they will need to create a group of five persons and tackle the challenge together. And they have only 48 hours to do so. The game is on…

AIPC will trial such a model when rolling out its Masterclass later this year and will work closely together with Westminster University on not only creating a model but also monitoring what happens in terms of community creation and, of course, in terms of outcome. Because, in the end, that is what will make us evolve as communities: innovation as the result of ideas being connected.

It is our ambition that by zooming out from digital/physical aspects and zooming in on purpose, we will be able to create value for all the stakeholders involved – especially the students and event participants looking to actively contribute to the creation of a great future.

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