Imperial College case study – October 2011
By Dr Jeff Hardy (at the time, UKERC Knowledge Exchange Manager)
Energy Islands was used as an ice-breaker for the new intake of two courses worth of Masters Students. This version was unusual because it was a huge group of students (80+) which required the exercise to be run as three parallel worlds all crammed together in a single venue. Additionally, we introduced an element of competition and a new participant role – the roving reporter.
Students were partitioned into their World and Island upon registration. The Worlds were colour coded (green, purple and red) and participants wore badges displaying these colours and the name of their Island so as to avoid international espionage and parallel World confusion.
A team of eight tutors oversaw the exercise, with two tutors being assigned to each World, one tutor was floating overseeing the whole operation and one tutor was assigned to media duties (typing in Tweets).
All the participants were briefed simultaneously and then sent to their Worlds (spread around three corners of a large room) to read their briefs and get started.
Within each World a team of three participants were assigned as roving reporters. Their job was to capture the mood of the negotiations and progress and report back to the room via Twitter (http://twitter.com/UKERCWorlds). This role continued throughout the exercise and provided an ongoing commentary on proceedings and kept the mood light.
As usual, each World was called in front of their World Council for an informal and a formal meeting. These meetings were carried out in parallel (i.e. all three World Councils happening simultaneously in three corners of the room). The World Council was formed of the two tutors assigned to that World.
In between World Council meetings the tutors all came together to discuss progress and concerns and remedial action, if required, was discussed and implemented.
After the final World Council meeting, the participants were asked to nominate one person from their World to present their global solution to a trans-dimensional judging panel (comprising tutors and invited experts). Each World was allowed two-minutes to outline their strategy. After each presentation the judges were allowed to ask questions. An overall winner was chosen (no prize was given, we forgot!).
Energy Islands in parallel Worlds is slightly more complicated that a single World, but not hugely more so. It is important to have sufficient tutors to cover each World and for at least one person to maintain oversight of the entire exercise and to be responsible for timekeeping. A large cohort is very noisy.
The addition of roving reporters was a very good one, although participant’s enthusiasm varied. The live Twitter feed was a stroke of genius and provided interesting and often humorous insight into progress (or lack of).
The World presentations were valuable as forced participants to think through the global value of their Islands solutions. The quality of presentations was very high.