Masterclass: Building future entrepreneurs and designing spaces for prospective learners

Written by: Stephanie Ong

As the pandemic became the forefront issue of this year, this unprecedented crisis has worked a new change into our daily work routine. Global preparedness was put to the test in so many ways and industries had to modify or make adjustments to match up to the new pace. This quick adaptation to the new routine was impressive and this year has definitely put the technology firms’ way ahead of others.

As it was my first time this year attending the EduTech Asia 2020 conference, it was impressive to note how quickly they have adjusted, converted, and launched this huge conference onto an online platform within such a short frame of time. It was surprisingly easy to navigate the website and in between sessions. The experience was pleasant and intermingling between presenters and participants was made seamless. It was wonderful to see how a crisis can bring out new possibilities and opportunities among different industries.

At this conference, I have attended two Masterclasses. The first class was conducted by Mr. Benson Ong, a senior lecturer from Nanyang Polytechnic who took us through the journey of building future entrepreneurs and showed us how new talents should be guided and mentored in order to bring out the best in them.

The second masterclass was conducted by Mr. Mark Freeman in which he explored how designing a suitable learning space allows us to better achieve our learning outcomes and in turn, contribute towards a higher rate of success for it. In the process of this, the stakeholder stands to benefit as he gains a suitable environment that works out for everyone.

In Mr. Benson’s masterclass, he shared that being an entrepreneur comes with a lot of hard work and challenges. They often have a lot to learn and have to always place themselves in the shoes of others in order to understand their challenge and cater to their specific needs. Therefore, it is important to possess the intrinsic motivation to pilot their purpose. During the process, an entrepreneur has to bear in mind that customers do not simply buy products – they are buying solutions to their problems. As a successful entrepreneur, one has to learn to develop the skills of digging deep into the root of the problem and learn to ask the right questions in order to come up with suitable solutions for the client. Having this set of skills is not enough as one has to also possess the ability to think critically, to learn to interact and empathize with others. On top of that, they have to also upgrade themselves to stay relevant to times. Most importantly, an entrepreneur has to learn to retain a positive attitude throughout the whole process in order to enjoy the process, success, and the fruits of their labour. Therefore, being an entrepreneur is always about reflecting and being ready to learn actively at all times.

In my second masterclass taught by Mr. Freeman, he shared that in order for a designer to have a successful project outcome, it is important to place equal focus on people, place, and practice. To order to realize new learning environments, it is crucial to challenge existing preconceptions so there are opportunities to evolve and transform the current spaces. For example, in a classroom, it is not always essential to have the teacher positioned in front of the class. A new arrangement can be set up to integrate student’s learning experiences by setting up rounded tables and have the teacher be in the middle of the room. However, all of these can only be achieved if you make the necessary engagement with the stakeholders to understand their needs so that it allows all parties (stakeholders, designers, and architects) to be involved and eventually create a responsive environment. The briefing and design process should always involve the various stakeholders to ensure that there is an alignment to the project’s vision. Only with these criteria being met will it then allow the project to reach its maximum potential and eventually translate and synthesize the ideas into one.

It was enjoyable having been able to gain new knowledge and perspectives on different subject matters through these masterclasses and it has proved to be fruitful sessions that I have definitely learned from.