Materials for Embedded Learning on the Excellence Gateway – Skills for Construction by Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) is a basic skills curriculum contextualized for the construction industry in the United Kingdom. (Note that the term “embedded” is the same as “contextualized” curriculum, that is, a basic skills curriculum in a specific vocational context, in this case, construction.) The Excellence Gateway is a learning portal which features free downloadable embedded learning materials. The curriculum is designed to improve the literacy, language, or numeracy skills learners need to succeed at work, in community-based and health-related activities, or as part of vocational training programs. It is neither a complete basic skills curriculum nor a complete construction curriculum, but rather an overlap that supports and enhances both.
The curriculum is organized into five modules: (1) The Construction Industry, (2) Health and Safety, (3) Working Skills for Construction, (4) Using Materials and Equipment, and (5) Working with Others. Each module is organized as follows: Introduction; Skills Checklist; Information and Tasks; and Theme Assessments. The modules support the teaching of a range of Level 1 qualifications in construction and can be used as an introduction to the industry and its crafts. They do not supply a complete program of learning. Instead, aspects of the training that place a particular demand on literacy, language, and numeracy skills have been prioritized. The basic skills include literacy/English language learning (listening, speaking, reading, writing, and researching) and numeracy (numbers, measures, shapes and space, and handling data).
In addition to the five content modules Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) provides learning resources, black-and-white masters, and an introduction to embedded learning methodologies.
The Excellence Gateway has many such embedded vocational curricula including catering, cleaning, entry to employment, hairdressing, horticulture, hospitality, manufacturing, painting operations, retail, social care, transport, trowel occupations, and warehousing. It also has employability curricula including first aid, food hygiene, health and safety, information and communication technology, international nurses, and this Skills for Construction curriculum. There are also other embedded basic skills curricula that are not related to employment but rather to family and community needs. Materials were developed in consultation with sector skills councils, trades unions, employers, training providers, and others, and were subject to extensive expert review. They were developed in 2005-006.
No formal evaluation results available.
The strength of this construction curriculum and some of the other Excellence Gateway “embedded” (contextualized) basic skills curricula is that they are vocationally, culturally, and geographically specific. Contextualization to a specific industry, in this case, construction, can be highly motivating for students who have already identified this as a strong vocational interest. Although the content is specific to the industry and therefore “industry centered,” if this industry is important to the learner, its content is also “learner centered.”
The weakness is the other side of that coin, that the curriculum may not easily be adapted in other countries and cultures and climates. Especially with construction, techniques and materials vary greatly from one part of the world to another. This curriculum, however, can serve as a model for a contextualized basic skills curriculum in a specific industry, and in some contexts it may be more adaptable than others.
The Skills for Construction materials and materials for other vocational settings (including catering, cleaning, English for Speakers of Other Languages support pack for catering, early years, hairdressing, horticulture, hospitality, manufacturing, painting, retail, transport, and warehousing) are available for free download on the Excellence Gateway.
For more information, please contact:
Head of Skills for Life and Employment
Department of Education and Skills, United Kingdom
Skills to Pay the Bills is a career and workforce readiness soft skills curriculum, published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). It was designed and piloted with the consultation of 100 youth. It is intended for youth service professionals, especially those who work with in-school and out-of-school youth ages 1421, in the United States. The materials are meant to be incorporated into existing curricula and/or programs, and adapted to the youth they serve. Following research on what employers need most in terms of skills and work readiness, six main skills/knowledge areas were identified for the manualcommunication; enthusiasm & attitude; teamwork; networking; problem solving & critical thinking; and professionalism. Information and activities are provided for each of these thematic areas.
The thematic areas are each presented with a page or two of general information on the theme, some notes to the facilitator, and five activities. These activites are laid out including the following:
Typically, at the end of the activity are materials for the activity such as scenarios, role-play descriptions, questions, etc. The end of the manual contains some information on the the do’s and don’ts of social networking and links to other useful resources.
During development, the curriculum was reviewed at pilot test sites. The curriculum was subsequently adjusted based on comments. The curriculum was tested and reviewed at FSW, Inc., WorkSkills (Bridgeport, Conn.), High School/High Tech (Madison, Fla.), KentuckianaWorks Youth Center (Louisville, Ky.), Massachusetts Migrant Education Program (Wilmington and Boston, Mass.), Project SEARCH (Washington, D.C.), Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (Denver, Colo.), and WorkSource/YouthSource (Renton, Wash.).
Skills to Pay the Bills is a very practical training guide with many adaptable activities that can be used in a variety of settings. With a very visual, neatly laid out, consistent format, the manual is very user-friendly. Useful suggestions are provided on how to vary some activities, depending on the group of youth one is working with. The activities take into account what the learners already know based on their past experiences, and build off of this. Furthermore, the activities are participatory, engaging, and variedall necessary when working with youth.
The manual could be strengthened by having more clearly defined competency/skill-based objectives , particularly since the manual is written in response to the identified needs of employers. For each of the five activities, it would be helpful to see in a more detailed way, the competency, skills, and knowledge areas being addressed. That could be useful to both the trainers and learners so they can gauge progress being made.
While the manual could be used in an international setting, it would take some work to adapt it. Most of the scenarios, examples, etc., are very United States-based. For example, the activity about successes and failures gives examples of American sports players, television/movie producers, scientists, et al. The participatory nature of the activities, however, can be used anywhere. The manual has a lot of active, hands-on, engaging activities that seem like they will keep youth interested and engaged.
While in some lessons the content of this curriculum is thin, in others it is well-developed. If this curriculum were to be used internationally, particularly in poor countries, some of the lessons would not be relevant, and some would need major adaptation. In some places more content, advice, and information would be needed that could not just be elicited from young people who have little or no work experience. For example, the “Flipping the Switch” lesson is presumably about appropriate ways to communicate in the working world but assumes that the youth already understand the differences between this kind of communication and communication with friends and family. In many contexts, however, in the United States and elsewhere, youth who have never had experience in the wage economy, and whose family members also have not had this experience, don’t really understand the differences and don’t know what is or isn’t appropriate or expected. There may need to be some direct instruction provided.
The amount of time needed for each lesson in some cases is greatly underestimated, especially for lessons that are described as being under 30 minutes. This cannot include the time needed for journaling and for extensions of the activity.
Because this is contextualized for the United States, often resources are taken for grantedsuch as certain kinds of materials and supplies, and access by youth to the Internetthat are frequently not available to youth in poor or developing countries. Perhaps the best use of these lessons is to follow the guideline suggested by the authors; to incorporate lessons that are relevant and easily adapted into an existing work readiness curriculum.
The Tips for Improving Access to This Curriculum for All Youth section (in the Introduction) has some especially useful ideas that may not always be considered in curriculum design, for example, activities such as journaling and drawing, the advice to “Presume competence and instill confidence,” and active thinking about making accommodations. There's a list of some typical accommodations for reading, writing, audio/visual communication, math, and organizational skills. This would be a good place to begin to help awaken facilitators to the need for accommodations and universal design in any culture.
U.S. Department of Labor
The Rwandan Youth Work Readiness Curriculum was created in 2010 by the Akazi Kanoze Youth Livelihoods Project, sponsored by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC). It is intended for Rwandans ages 14–24, especially for out-of-school youth. Although it assumes that participants have at least functional literacy, it has been offered to youth who have various levels of education, from P4 completers to university graduates. It has been used for in-school youth in the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system and has been provided by youth-serving organizations, private sector companies with a program for youth employment, and by the Workforce Development Authority (Government of Rwanda, TVET agency). The curriculum includes eight modules that, taken together, enable a complete three-month course. (The length of the course depends on how many hours per week of instruction are offered.) The modules could also be used separately or in various combinations.
The curriculum is learner-centered and engaging: The modules’ learning activities include role plays, case studies/scenarios, simulations, pair share and pair work, small-group work, and brainstorming, among other strategies. Each module begins with a self-assessment and ends with a quiz to give the learner an opportunity to assess and reflect on his or her experiences and skills. Activities often start by having participants reflect on something from their lives, and build upon that. There are end-of-module and end-of-course assessments. The curriculum is accompanied by a trainer’s manual. Each module has two to four sessions, depending on the number of topics that need to be covered, with three to six activities per session. Each module contains the following:
1. Personal Development: identifying values & interests; assessing attributes & skills; identifying learning styles & learning strategies; goal setting, planning, & tracking progress
2. Interpersonal Communication: speaking and listening; following and giving instructions and feedback; forms of communication in the workplace; cooperating/working as a team member; providing good customer service
3. Work Habits and Conduct: identifying and applying for jobs (writing applications, CVs, cover letters, thank you letters); interviewing; workplace behaviors and attitudes; time management; balancing work and home life
4. Leadership: characteristics of an effective leader; leadership styles; organizing and motivating others; team building; leading others in problem solving and conflict resolution
5. Safety and Health at Work: Rwanda health and safety laws and practices; identifying and avoiding hazards in the workplace; responding to emergencies and accidents; basic first aid; healthy lifestyles; stress management
6. Worker and Employer Rights and Responsibilities: Rwandan labor code; workers’ rights: benefits and labor laws
7. Financial Literacy: managing money; saving; budgeting; how financial institutions work; making financial decisions
8. Market Literacy: the cycle of business; entrepreneurship skills; planning for unexpected events; financial record-keeping; marketing; negotiating; adding value to products
No formal evaluation results available
Review 1 The Rwandan Youth Work Readiness Curriculum is a well-designed, attractive, user-friendly workforce readiness curriculum for out-of-school youth and adults. Although made for Rwanda, it would not be difficult to adapt it for other sub-Saharan African countries, and perhaps countries in other parts of the world. One of its strengths is that it does not require a high level of literacy and numeracy. It is clearly and simply written, includes lots of very helpful tools for teachers, and employs activities that are engaging but easily implemented with relatively little teacher training. The curriculum is basic and does not attempt to deal with career planning, the more sophisticated and difficult parts of the entrepreneurship process such as micro-loans, or with hard training skills. It provides opportunities, however, to reinforce basic skills in reading and writing as well as to learn new so-called soft skills needed for work.
The Rwandan Youth Work Readiness Curriculum is a holistic, foundational course that prepares Rwandan youth for their entry or re-entry into the workforce. It covers a wide range of topics from preparing a CV to financial planning to understanding the Rwandan labor code. The curriculum empowers youth by fully engaging them in the learning process and giving them the opportunity to learn-by-doing and practice using new skills in a safe environment. Although some of the modules cover complex concepts, the curriculum effectively engages learners by using a participatory learning methodology that makes the material accessible and immediately relevant to the learners’ lives.
Activities are designed for learners with varying learning styles and preferences such as self-reflection, group work, role plays, guest speakers, field trips, games, and written self-reflection. The learning objectives are clearly stated at the beginning of each module and activity, and progress in achieving those objectives can be assessed using the tools provided in the curriculum. Specifically, facilitators can assess learners’ progress through the use of tests that appear at the end of every module, as well as by reviewing the self-assessment chart that learners fill out in their workbooks.
The curriculum is very effective and has few weaknesses. One small criticism is that the facilitator guide provides a step-by-step process for leading the activities that appear in the curriculum, but it is missing a thorough explanation of the curriculum methodology. Although it might be immediately obvious to experienced trainers, trainers who are not accustomed to using participatory techniques may struggle with some of the activities or skip them entirely. The facilitator guide could be enhanced by providing some background information about the methodology, the “why” behind using it, and how the methodology informs the activities in the curriculum.
Another minor weakness of the curriculum is that some of the activities require a significant amount of preparation and materials, which some facilitators may not have time to do and/or have access to. It might be useful to include some options for the facilitator. For example, if an activity calls for the facilitator to bring in pictures of great leaders, a tip to facilitators might be that if it is not possible to bring in pictures, to ask students to draw pictures of leaders.
International Technical Advisor II
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
The Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future textbook is part of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) program offered in the United States and in Belgium, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa. The textbook targets youth, ages 15–18, from low-income and at-risk communities. The curriculum is intended to be used in schools and in community-based organizations.
The curriculum covers concepts related to starting, operating, and exiting a small business; reinforces math, reading, and writing; and develops skills in critical thinking, communication, and teamwork. Some secondary school, and functional reading, writing, and numeracy skills are recommended for those who use it. Photographs in the textbook communicate that the program is intended for young women and men, people who are physically challenged, people of color as well as Caucasians, and people from a range of different cultures. The textbook is intended to help young people who have not created a business to understand what types of skills and knowledge are needed to run a business, and what possible opportunities exist for them.
NFTE offers a teacher textbook to accompany the student textbook; it provides lesson plans, pacing guides, and more. Although not required in order to use the textbook, a three-day teacher training is available on how to implement the program, of which the textbook is an important part. Participants in the training receive lesson plans, teaching slide show presentations, pacing guides, classroom posters, and more to use in their programs. The training is conducted by NFTE master trainers.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) textbook contains eight modules focusing on different facets of entrepreneurship; each module is broken into chapters that are further divided into sections. The modules are as follows:
1. What is an Entrepreneur?
2. Preparing for Business
3. Opportunity Recognition and Market Analysis
4. Marketing Plan and Sales
5. Analyzing Finances
6. Starting Your Business
7. Managing Your Business
8. Growing Your Business
Each section of the textbook has objectives defined in terms of what learners will be able to do; most are observable or measurable. The assessments ("Check your Understanding" and "Assessment" sections), however, focus on understanding of content (concepts, vocabulary, facts, or information presented), not on what the entrepreneur will be able to do. The sequencing is from more general knowledge about economics and business to the details of running a small business.
No formal evaluation results available
The Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future textbook covers a wide array of topics related to entrepreneurship, from the big picture (what is entrepreneurship?) to the very detailed (tax implications and government regulations). The curriculum is comprehensive, covering essential knowledge that a young person interested in starting a business will need to know. Throughout the course, learners are asked to develop their own personal business plan. They can fill in the information either using a student workbook (paper) or by using the BizTech software (electronic). The textbook includes prompts for the learners when and what they should fill in based on where they are in the textbook.Another useful feature of the curriculum is a case study of a young woman that follows her challenges and successes starting, growing, and eventually leaving a catering business she started in high school. The case studies help tie together the chapters and provide learners of real examples of how a young person applies the topics included in the text to her professional life. The curriculum was updated in 2010 and the material is up-to-date and it makes use of recent examples. The format will be familiar to the learners and teachers, as the curriculum is a traditional textbook used in the U.S.A weakness of the curriculum is that it covers such a wide range of topics that it might be overwhelming to the learner. While NFTE uses textboxes, graphics, reading checkpoints, and mini-assessments throughout, it is still quite text heavy. To make the most of the curricular material, the learners need to have strong reading skills and relatively strong math skills in order to fully grasp it. If the learners are at-risk or coming from low income communities and do not have a strong academic background, they may find the material to be too complex. Also, the fact that the curriculum is in a textbook may be a deterrent to learners who have not been successful in a traditional, school environment and may be turned off thinking this is just another class.These challenges can be overcome based on the strength of the facilitator. It is imperative that the lesson plans used in conjunction with the text help engage learners, especially those with different learning needs and learning styles. The teacher guide was not submitted for this review, but it would likely provide guidance on how to address these issues.The version of the textbook reviewed is written for a U.S. audience. All of the examples are based in the U.S. and some of the topics, such as taxes and government regulations are particular to the U.S. It would need significant adaptation to be used with different audiences, especially for developing countries where the examples and activities may not be relevant to their specific contexts.
The content of the Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future textbook is well designed, attractive, and written clearly and appealingly. The format is very well organized, user-friendly and with inviting photographs and illustrations. A teacher would need to have a background in starting successful small businesses, however, or to be matched with an entrepreneur in a team-teaching situation. In poor countries successful entrepreneurs may not necessarily handle the level of English reading required by this textbook.
The textbook sequence is logical for a classroom of young people who have not yet started businesses, but those who might be seeking solutions to their immediate problems managing or expanding their existing business, might be impatient with this and want to begin to address their immediate needs. The textbook may have useful information for them but would need to be tailored to their needs by a skilled entrepreneurship teacher.
The three–sixth month program is described as using an experiential/learning by doing approach including games, activities and events. There are some activities included in the textbook itself, often as part of the assessment, in a section called Working Together. The first 14 chapters of the textbook are to help the participant to put together a business plan. A helpful table is included (pages 144–145) on what parts of the textbook will help to develop a standard or an advanced business plan.
Much would need to be changed in order to use this in a non-western, and especially poor or underdeveloped country where a lot of the (Internet, training and other) resources taken for granted in this textbook are not available. It would be a useful reference upon which to draw, however, in a wide range of entrepreneurial contexts.
Youth Build International's Working Hands Working Minds is a set of five instructional modules designed to help alternative schools and youth programs integrate classroom theoretical learning with hands-on practical training especially related to the building trades. The curriculum is specifically written for out-of-school youth and young adults ages 16-24. However, it is suitable for use with in-school and other youth and young adult populations. The program is activity-based and centers around nontechnical aspects of the construction industry that are important to master for successful employment. These include, for example, units of instruction on reading, writing and mathematics skills related to construction. Leadership development, health and safety, and responsibility and teamwork are also fostered. Although technical skill development is not covered, participants are exposed to technical terminology and concepts in the process of addressing other objectives. The curriculum has been adapted for South Africa.
Working Hands Working Minds contains five modules:
Module 1 focuses on teamwork and leadership in construction and includes 10 lesson units ranging from The Heart of Teamwork and Leadership and Diversity in the Workplace, to Effective Communication and Working as a Team. Module 2, Construction Health and Safety, has lessons on Attitudes and Behavior, Personal Safety Gear, Dealing with Emergencies, and Workplace Safety Assessment among the 13 individual units. Tools, Trades and Technology in Construction is the subject of Module 3. The nine instructional units provide a good overview of the kinds of hand tools, power tools, and other technology workers use. Module 4 covers the very basic measurement and mathematical calculations construction workers use on the job. It is a useful, basic primer, with exercises and examples designed to relate the learning of measurement and mathematical concepts and operations to practical work activity. Module 5 relates to communities. Instruction units such as Building a House into a Home, Exploring Community History, Describing a Home, and Research on Housing Needs attempt to sensitize students to the larger human and community-building role they are playing as they pound nails, cut boards, and lay rafters.
No formal evaluation results available
Working Hands Working Minds is a well-designed, easy-to-use set of instructional units in five modules intended for use with out-of-school [youth] and youth preparing for employment in the construction industry. Some of the material focuses on developing basic mathematical and reading and writing competencies relating to construction work. Others deal with generating positive attitudes about construction work, working with others, and personal job responsibilities. The material is logically organized, with an easy-to-follow format. The instructional emphasis is on active participation by the students through many well-designed exercises. The activities relate to learning the content. It is very learner-centered material presented in a way to tap student interest. This is probably one of the better quality sets of material of its kind available. The fact that it was developed in 2001 does not make it outdated because of the general but relatively timeless character of the content covered. Concepts of reading, measuring, adding and taking personal responsibility do not change very much over time. The material is not dated, but it relates primarily to the US context. Adaptation to other country contexts, however, can be easily achieved.
The NAJAH journey is an active learning process that builds youth employability and entrepreneurship skills. The material is available in two versions; one is delivered in six months, and a less detailed version is typically covered in three months, depending on the level of details required per targeted group and their needs. NAJAH focuses on soft skills that help youth "to be," "to do," "to know" and "to relate." The curriculum fosters positive attitudes toward work and increases awareness of available job opportunities among youth and their parents. The program supports youth to put learned skills and positive attitudes into practice and builds youth's connections to their community. The material was originally designed for use with 18- to 24-year-old Jordanian youth, and was subsequently tailored to address youth needs in Azerbaijan, Yemen and Lebanon. In each of the these countries, the material was contextualized based on the results of market research.
Each of the four components of the curriculum was designed as a standalone module. Different components were used in each country. The curriculum was developed using an asset-based approach that addressed youth developmental needs. Contextual specificities were added according to indicators for each country.
The NAJAH curricula includes the following modules:
1. Discover! In this component, youth take a step into their inner world, to consider and draw on personal success stories as well as success stories from their family and the community in order to examine the meaning of success, the skills, attributes, positive attitudes and support systems required to achieve it and their own potential. At the same time, youth and their families examine personal and community values and support systems using appreciative enquiry methodologies in order to build self-esteem, understand personal choice vs. social and cultural norms and start to set personal goals.
By the end of this component, youth will have:
2. Experiment! In this component, youth gain skills required for the workplace such as presentation skills, CV writing, knowledge of labor laws and workplace ethics. Youth will learn how and where they should be searching for job opportunities. Job boards within the training space announce available opportunities. Youth start evaluating their skills by comparing them with the skills required for each opportunity. Community mapping takes place as part of this phase, where youth focus on identifying assets and opportunities available in their community, as well as identifying needs that can be developed in future income generating projects or community enterprises.
By the end of this component, youth will have:
3. Implement! Through internship activities, youth gain practical experience in the workplace, examine workplace values and ethics and compare these to personal and community values and ethics. Youth develop a better understanding of the workplace as insiders, and get an opportunity to put skills gained into practice. Supporting topics such as Healthy Life Style, Personal Hygiene and First Aid & Workplace Safety are introduced as part of the workplace readiness approach. Interaction with colleagues with a focus on appropriate male-female relationships in the workplace and communication with supervisors and staff are addressed based on the actual outcomes of youth experience during the internship period.
By the end of this component, youth will have:
4. Give Back! In this component, youth are introduced to project design and budgeting. Based on the outcome of the community-mapping activity inthe second phase, and the skills gained from the financial training introduced in this phase, youth develop a proposal to implement a community enterprise project over a period of two months. The purpose of this community enterprise is to encourage youth to give back to local community by establishing a project that invests in the community, responds to specific needs and is owned by the community. Micro-credit facilities and services are introduced, and youth who show entrepreneurial capacities are encouraged to develop group project proposals and approach MFIs to start their own businesses. This component allows youth to put all skills gained into practice and invest in the support network developed so far within their community.
By the end of this component, youth will have:
In 2007, an external evaluation was conducted to provide more information on the relevancy of the content to the needs of local youth and demand in the labor market. At this time, the curriculum also underwent a thorough peer review.
After the material was tailored to the standards of the Vocational Training Corporation (VTC) in Jordan, the NAJAH-VTC material was scaled up and accredited as the national curriculum to introduce life and employability skills in all vocational training centers.
An additional review was conducted by a group of employers, human resources professionals and a VTC technical committee. The NAJAH-VTC version was digitized and posted on the VTC website for e-learning purposes. The external evaluation report is available and can be provided upon request.
Review 1The Save the Children NAJAH Youth Work and Life Skills curriculum is designed to teach 18 to 24 year old Jordanian young men and women to lead better and healthier lives by fostering life skills to critically assess and modify their behaviors. Students learn skills such as communication, decision-making, critical thinking, managing emotions, assertiveness, self-esteem building, and relationship skills. The material includes group discussions, role-plays, games, puzzles, and other interactive activities.Pre and Post assessments developed per module are usually conducted and scored by participants. In addition, there are number of self-evaluations associated with particular activities and prior to community events and interviews in workplaces, where youth get better sense of their readiness prior to conducting any of the activities. All self-assessment tools are available can can be provided upon request. The assessment component of the curriculum is a positive feature since it helps to ensure that the training projects are accountabile to the community and that educators have a firm understanding of their students and their needs. Assessment is primarily geared toward the trainers and community members. The curriculum uses both formative and summative assessments. The assessments are conducted to raise awareness of key issues in the community and to highlight changes that could be implemented to improve the program. The curriculum is missing an assessment component for students that would encourage self-evaluation and help youth to determine how well they understand the topic issues. Thinking of the open-ended characteristics of the curriculum, the assessment for student performance should be designed so that it presents youth with a constructive response. This will help students be more aware of the emerging learning about their life skills.
The GoVenture Idea Book is a compilation of discussion starters, interesting world facts, and teaching, writing, and study tips for teachers, youth, and adult learners. It provides the reader with information and tools that enhance training and learning techniques. The Idea Book accompanies several computer-based simulation games that teach aspiring entrepreneurs business skills, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and stock market investing, as well as life skills. The simulation games are designed so that the learner is taught how to run a lemonade stand (reviewed here), a restaurant, clothing store, or sporting goods store. The games are highly visual, interactive, learner-centered, and use an active, experiential methodology providing an opportunity for the learner to gain practical "on-the-job" business skills. In addition to the GoVenture Idea Book, GoVenture boasts a variety of other programs that teach essential business, financial literacy, work-, and life-skills concepts that allow the learner to absorb knowledge and directly apply it in a virtual setting.
The GoVenture Lemonade Stand Simulation is one of several educational games and simulations by GoVenture. The package includes the computer game software, software user's guide, the instructor's guide, the instructor’s learning guide and activities workbook, student’s learning guide and activities workbook, and the test bank, which includes questions related to learning in the game. The instructors’ guide contains background information on the Lemonade Stand package, including short descriptions on possible teaching approaches. The student’s learning guide and activities workbook include worksheets that are designed to further explain and reinforce the concepts in the simulation. The purpose of each worksheet and the expected learning outcomes are clearly stated at the top. Finally, the test bank asks questions to review how well students understand the concepts from the simulation.
The GoVenture Lemonade Stand Simulation package contains both instructors' and students' learning activities workbooks that are designed to accompany the business simulation and that clearly state the goal of the activity and the specific learning outcomes it will help students achieve. For example, the workbook activity on pricing explains the concept of cost plus pricing as well as market pricing. It then walks students through how to calculate these figures and presents brief (one- to two-sentence) scenarios with questions about how they would price their lemonade in those situations. The scenarios, particularly the more complex market pricing scenarios, often have multiple-choice answers.
In the simulation itself, the goal is clearly stated: It is to make as much money as possible. When starting a new simulation, the user creates a name for the business and chooses a logo. The main interface is simple and clear: The three areas requiring decisions (price, recipe, inventory) are along the bottom. The weather forecast appears near the top, to the upper-left of the picture of the lemonade stand. To the upper-right of the stand is a window that shows the following: cash flow, which ticks up as lemonade is sold, sales for the day, and total sales. During the simulation, people walk across the screen, pass the stand, and sometimes stop to buy lemonade; they sometimes leave comments that provide helpful feedback about price and taste. One day in the simulation takes less than a minute to run, and a clock at the lower right shows the passing time of the day. When the day finishes, a pop-up screen summarizes the value of sales and number of customers for the day, as well as total cash available. It also gives messages about any lost inventory (to help with inventory planning), and a bar graph at the right shows the total amount of money made since the business opened.
No formal evaluations available
The GoVenture Idea Book and simulation programs epitomize "cutting edge" learning for North American students. Computer simulation games transform the learning experience from the teacher to the individual. From one's computer, learners can become a CEO running a virtual business, a stock broker trading on a virtual exchange, or a manufacturer managing a virtual production line. GoVenture products are highly visual and interactive and learners are likely to feel both intellectually and emotionally engaged in the experience, as if they were personally living it. Learners must, however, have good computer skills and problem-solving skills and be comfortable with independent learning otherwise they could find the content overly complex and frustrating. GoVenture simulation products use a learning-by-doing approach which fosters independence, critical thinking and self-reliance—concepts which are grounded in a Westernized way of learning. The benefits to this approach are that learners build critical thinking and problem solving skills, in real-time (in the virtual sense) and important concepts in running and managing a business. In the Lemonade Stand example, decisions regarding how much to invest in raw materials, taking the weather into consideration, marketing techniques and the price point for the product can positively or negatively impact one's sales. A by product of this learning methodology is that the learner becomes exposed to running and managing a business without the risks involved in running a real business. While there are many benefits to this learning methodology, computer simulated games do not teach some important life-skills such as how to communicate or work collaboratively with customers or employees or other important ethics required in running a successful business. GoVenture has developed a wide array of products that include money management, personal finance, investment and trade and Accounting and have customizable education games. These are important life-skills which learners can learn in their own space and at their own pace.
The GoVenture Lemonade Stand Simulation is an interactive, fun, e-learning activity that introduces learners to basic business and entrepreneurial concepts. In the simulation, learners run a lemonade stand, and must make decisions about inventory, price, and product quality based on the weather, existing inventory, customer satisfaction and available cash. The supporting student learning guide and activities workbook offers additional explanations of concepts and provides worksheets to reinforce the ideas being learned through the simulation. Lemonade Stand is designed for elementary school students in North America but can be used for middle or high school students.
Some literacy and basic numeracy skills are required. The concepts could be adapted for use in other countries, and customization options are available. The simulation can be played as part of a course on entrepreneurship, or as part of a self-directed learning activity. It can also be played individually or with a group. The numerous options for use are a strength of the program, as is its ability to simplify complex business decisions into a format that is easily understood, as well as fun.
The Making Cents Agricultural Enterprise curriculum materials were developed for the Nigeria Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises (MARKETS) program, and they focus on expanding economic opportunities in the agricultural sector by increasing agricultural productivity, enhancing value-added processing, and increasing commercialization through private sector-led and market-driven growth and development. Making Cents is collaborating with a national agricultural program to train 500 field workers across the country in an effort to improve the lives of 250,000 farmers through the delivery of the Agricultural Enterprise curriculum. In Mali, Making Cents translated the curriculum (renamed Input Supplier and Processors) into French and adapted workcards and activities to fit the local context.
The Agricultural Enterprise curriculum is comprised of two standalone curricula in the series: Farmers/Producers and Input Suppliers/Processors. Both were originally developed to be used in Nigeria and are available in English. Input Suppliers/Processors, which has also been adapted to the Malian context and is available in French, is not reviewed here. The typical age of participants is 18-40, and the ideal training group size is 20 people. The objective of the Farmer/Producers course is to help farmers improve the management of their business through strategic thinking based on market knowledge and a better understanding of agricultural value chains.
The course consists of 12 sessions and two rounds of simulation game play, estimated to take 15-18 hours to complete in total. The materials kit includes all materials needed to run the course: a trainer manual, with detailed instructional guides; a producer workbook; a facilitator guide for the Agriculture in Action simulation game; and laminated agricultural calendars, cash flow charts, price charts, CD of producer workbook, game cards, game boards, play money, and other supplies needed for the game.The complete Agricultural Enterprise curriculum includes the following:
The curriculum uses structured, learner-centered, participatory and experiential learning methodologies. Activities include large- and small-group discussions, small-group problem-solving and planning; individual planning; role plays; and a simulation game. Particpants experiment, analyze, practice taking risks, and gather information that helps them make better decisions in their own farming practices. By the end of the course, participating farmers should have strengthened their understanding of basic business concepts and market conditions that affect profitability as well as of the value chain for their particular crop(s); discovered practical techniques for projecting income, assessing risk, managing debt, and saving; improved their skills in financial management, record keeping and market analysis; and developed individual action plans for use after the course.
The Trainer's Manual contains clear guidance on preparing for the course and for each session, and instructions for facilitating small-group activities and leading large-group discussions and learning activities. For each session, there is a summary of the session (objectives, methodology, materials, room set up, time and overview of the content), followed by a step-by-step guide for the trainer to follow while facilitating the session. The guide to facilitating the simulation game contains all the information and background needed to use the game.Trainers and facilitators for the course must successfully complete a training of trainers course for the Agricultural Enterprise curriculum, which includes required field practice. Trainers should be familiar with local farming realities and with basic business concepts, but they do not need to be experts.
No formal evaluation results available
Practitioners looking for a structured yet highly interactive and participatory curriculum will find this course to be a sound and useful introduction to market-based agricultural business planning and practices. It uses a range of active learning methodologies facilitated by a trainer who is key to coaching, supporting, and introducing new information and concepts. The course activities provide opportunities for participants to engage in problem solving and analysis with small groups in ways that help develop confidence, initiative and independent action. Because it draws on the specific agricultural practices of the community in which it is offered and is based on an agricultural production cycle, the curriculum could be adapted to most agricultural settings.
The content of the course follows a logical sequence, starting with farm business cycles and farm business practices, moving to market and value chain analyses, and then to savings and credit and development, and refinement of individual action plans. Most sessions begin with a discussion about what participants know about the topic or with an activity that draws on their own reactions to a scenario or role-play. In this sense, the curriculum builds on learners' existing knowledge and skills, but there are no activities that explicitly ask participants to assess formally or informally what they already know and can do. The course has clear overall objectives and for each session several achievement-based objectives are identified. However, the course does not include a process for helping participants document their own learning or guidance for trainers who may want or need to assess participants’ progress.
The participant materials, which are colorful and engaging, are appropriate for farmers who have basic literacy and numeracy skills. The materials would not be as useful with a training group that does not include several people who can read, write and calculate well enough to lead others in these activities. The facilitator's manual for the agriculture simulation game is clearly written and would be easy to follow, after participating in several rounds of play to gain first-hand experience. The Trainers' Manual is also clearly written, and with training (required) should be easily followed. The format of the instructional guides provided in both manuals is useful, especially for new or inexperienced trainers, with the overall course guide following a step-by-step approach, and the simulation game guide using a "say/do" approach to help introduce, manage, and debrief participants after the game. Both manuals assume a fairly high level of reading ability on the part of the trainer or facilitator, and in both, the type font is small and there is no space for trainer or facilitator to write his or her own notes.
The Making Cents' Agricultural Enterprise curriculum was first designed for Nigerian agricultural producers, specifically input suppliers and processors, to improve the production and management of their farming businesses. Since then, it has been adapted to other West African country contexts. Training is targeted to processors and suppliers, 18-40 years old with a diverse range of literacy and numeracy skills. The curriculum assumes that processors and suppliers have a higher level of education than their farming counterparts.
The curriculum is technically sound and is supported by a series of manuals and guides for the trainer. The training manual tends to be a bit prescriptive presumably in an effort to ensure quality of training. Whilst the objective of ensuring quality training might be achieved through this method, it could conversely be seen to undermine the trainers’ pedagogical creativity and ability to inject their own explanations or theories based on their experiences. Clear and measurable learning objectives would also serve to strengthen the overall curriculum and training manuals.
Similar to other Making Cents curricula, the curriculum uses role play to engage learners; game simulation helps to build skills and reinforce business concepts; and group work serves to: (1) enhance the learners’ understanding of market conditions and of the challenges faced by both producers and suppliers and, (2) facilitate a supportive and collaborative learning environment.
The participants’ workbooks are useful. They could benefit from color but are spiral bound which makes them easy to reproduce. A unique activity that finishes out the training is a work plan development activity that learners do to outline their immediate action steps upon completion of the training.
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