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Virtual Reality Internships

Irena-Areti Damianou Newcastle

internshipsAlthough the business school made a good effort to provide common study areas and a common space with plenty of computers, as well as billboards free for anyone to post things on, it is still lacking creativity as well as many other universities nowadays. Times change fast, competition for nearly everything rises and the need for creativity and innovation is the only way to thrive. The importance of creativity and innovation in universities is often underestimated and that is the main barrier and reason behind this lack of innovation in schools nowadays. Ideally, a university business school should be turned into an Innovation lab, which will tackle the various problems and translate the following features.

Firstly, the quality of the relationship between the students and the business community is crucial. As it is now, the relationship is minimal to non-existent and that is where the university has to start from: trying to build a common platform of communication between the students and the business community. Motivation and passion is what drives people. Just like the notion of the “third place” by Ray Oldenburg (1991), the business school should be that special place for the students where they can be in and get value in their every-day experiences and routines. This new innovation space should not restrict students to just dealing with their assignments and projects but to anything possible. The barriers of communication between staff and students should not exist, nor should this uncomforting feeling on the student’s behalf. Great ideas do not come easy, and most certainly do not come by students with restricted mindsets. Passion should not be an add-on but a way of life for students. They should feel motivated to want to head to this idea factory; they should feel like they are getting something out of it and it has things to offer them. It is all about Networking and adapting a networking idea! It should resemble a phygital community, which by the use of both physical and digital media provides an ideal environment translating innovation and inspiration.

Secondly, the technology and resources should not just be adequate, but plentiful: More computers, more innovative software and many more should be the start of this innovation center. And this Is where the proposed virtual environment should step in and make a change.

Virtual worlds make it easier to reach this “third place” mentioned earlier, and they provide a profound feeling of losing yourself in it and forgetting everything. They provide an experience very unique to each person either if it has to do with playing a virtual game like flying a plane or being part of a virtual workplace like this internship. Once the new technology is up and running, the process will automatically change. The more students will make use of this, the more things they will get out of it. This will hence act as a multiplier and the more students are motivated, the better grades they will get. The better grades they get, the better their performance will be and then the higher the university’s reputation will be. They key to this is using a phygital space. This innovation Centre should be open, not just to students but also staff of the university. Networking, socializing always brings new ideas and the more blends of people there are, the better. Different ages, professions, mindsets should be put together and this should be encouraged, translated by the new idea factory.

Therefore, out of all the topics covered in class, which are process-centric systems, social networks, mobility and digital transformation it is believed that the most appropriate approach to be followed for this innovation lab is the digital transformation. Digital Transformation is all about the Experience Economy and finding a good balance between the three main aspects of ISM: Technology, process and people. The latter is crucial as one affects the other and with a good collaboration between the three, it will be easier and faster to help the school transform into an idea factory. Although schools used to want students and externals out of their intranets, now things are changing; there is a need for new ideas to come in from the outside, to break boundaries and allow all these people in, the need for integration. It is proven that involving external partners and customers in the process is a step to a more successful transformation to the digital economy. Consequently, the same can be said for the business school. By having the right technology and resources and an innovative and flexible process, people (in this case students) will feel freer to innovate and develop their ideas with their interactions with people in this space.

Proposal and description

The virtual-reality internship (or training program) ideally will consist of a combination of user-generated content within an e-learning, virtual platform. Companies will be able to work within the program to create internship programs and real-job tasks and challenges that students will be required to tackle. Users (in this case students) will then be able to practice different types of professions, placements, and trainings through this “virtual internship” to gain job experience in place of participating in an actual graduate placement or training program, which might be harder to get.

The platform should be useful for both university students and new staff in companies. As it will be situated at the Newcastle university campus, and provided that students will find it useful and enjoyable, it will encourage students to visit this new idea factory more often.

What’s more, it could be integrated with the students’ studies: lecturers can promote this platform as a helping hand to students with related assignments or projects. The above will prove very easy, as this virtual software will be available to everyone, provided that they are students of the university and they can easily access simply with their university login and password.

Making it happen

A solution like that would require a lot of resources and hence relatively high costs to put into implementation. This section will address the challenges, i.e the knowledge and resources required for its implementation.

Dedicating a room in the library for Virtual Internships to take place would be ideal and not too costly. This modular new space would include a number of computers which will have the software and would be accessible to all students simply through their university login details. Each student would have to create his or her avatar, which would represent him or her in the virtual world. In this way they can see what a real job environment looks like. The software can even be installed on existing online virtual worlds like Second Life, to cut down the costs of creating is from scratch.

As the creation of such a software can cost up to 15.000 pounds, and if the university cannot afford this, could assign the task to a student in the software development department and provide a reward in return, or even assign it as a job.

The idea is a virtual-reality internship that consists of a combination of user-generated content within an e-learning, virtual platform or a virtual space. Companies will work within the program to create internship programs that university and university students will have access to. The initial idea is to help students and unemployed graduates, who find it hard to get a job – considering the bad economic situation and unemployment rates in the UK – gain work experience through this program. By taking part in it, users can get valuable, similar to real-life, work experience which will help them in the future, not to mention making their CV’s more appealing to future employers and then get a job. Users will then be able to practice different types of professions, placements, and trainings through this “virtual internship” to gain job experience in place of participating in an actual graduate placement or training program. At the beginning stage and until most students get familiar with the software, the main focus will be on companies, which should be able to provide actual work tasks or projects that need to be completed with real documents and processes.

Benefits for companies and students:

On the companies’ perspective, this software will be giving companies opportunities to test new job or task ideas and see how students (which could be future employees) could tackle them. Companies will want to work with it in order to gain innovative ideas from users that they don’t have access to without Virtuoso. They will also be motivated to participate in the program because then they will be able to recruit from a larger pool of applicants, and don’t need to train these people for their roles for which they are hired, as they’ve already learned how to do the job inside the virtual environment.

When it comes to students, it will address the problem of unemployment and the fact that students lack work experience, which jobs require. And hence find it hard to get a job considering the bad economic situation and unemployment rates in the UK. By taking part in it, users can get valuable similar to real-life work experience which will help them in the future, also making their CV’s more appealing to future employers and then get a job.

Also important is the fact that it allows students work in any field, for those students who are unsure of what they want to work in the future. This allows users to make better-informed decisions about careers to enter into in the future, and may provide them with a job after graduation: recruiters expect that over a third of entry-level positions will be filled by graduates who have already worked for their organizations, with demonstrates that virtual interns have a better opportunity at finding a job eventually.

Finally, a student’s participation in the completion of a task or a project as such can be recorded and presented as a video or case study and therefore the student can then add it to their CV as a real task they solved at a real work environment. Since this program will be recognized from companies, the additional part on the CV would count as eligible work experience.

Criticism and Conclusion

To be realistic, all ideas have their weaknesses and as this is a completely radical one, it has to deal with the following weaknesses. The success of this software is based on trust from the university to the companies and vice versa. It might take some time to establish partnerships with the companies, and also the costs might be relatively high.

The current lifestyle of people and particularly of young people is directly oriented and connected to the Internet. It is therefore clear that this change is necessary to keep up the ever-changing pace of the world. When it comes to evaluating this idea in terms of success and value it will be easy to measure success in the long-run, from not only the number of students using the software but also from their performance at school. As the sponsor – in this case the university – is interested in seeing the value of this idea factory, this will become apparent later on as the students will eventually feel free to express their ideas, come up with more innovative processes and lastly and most importantly be more motivated. It might take time to measure this change, but as soon as people start realizing the huge potential this will bring and the fact that they have a voice and they are all responsible in shaping the process, that is when this change will be a success.

Designing for collaboration


Steelcase’s whitepaper How the workplace can improve collaboration provides a multitude of ideas on creating collaborative workspaces. Steve Shearer from Office Snapshots provides some key takeaways :

What is Collaboration?

“Fundamentally, collaboration is about working with one or more people to achieve a goal, such as collectively creating content, brainstorming, etc. Ideally, all perspectives are equally respected, brought together to leverage the group’s shared mind.

Planning and Designing for Collaboration

As organizations and designers plan collaborative spaces, Steelcase researchers identified several planning considerations. Each calls for different space considerations and new best practices to successfully engage workers in working together.

Rolling collaboration - Sharing tacit knowledge in real time

  • Enable staying ‘in-flow’ while in motion; leverage segues throughout the day with meaningful encounters via effective settings in casual environments.
  • Support a “braided” collaborative experience — formal/informal, planned/impromptu, face-to-face/virtual.
  • Encourage dynamic/iterative exchanges by providing visual tools for sharing and building ideas.

Density - Creating an energetic buzz

  • Leverage the natural energy caused by density of occupants.
  • Consider multiple uses of space.
  • Provide visual/acoustical connections so workers can mentor and be mentored, learn through “eavesdropping,” and share knowledge informally during the flow of the day

Layering - Accommodating multiple resources

  • Provide for the layering of analog and digital information.
  • Leverage vertical surfaces as communication/collaboration tools inside/outside of project team spaces to encourage knowledge sharing beyond the team.
  • Enable real‐time updates of the evolution of project work.
  • Support the transition of analog work into digital documentation.
  • Provide ways for workers to share information from personal devices in a larger format to encourage group participation

Zoning - Providing the appropriate range of settings and acoustics

  • Be mindful that more-open collaborative environments require a balance of enclosed spaces for focused work, conference calls, and telepresence.
  • Consider zoning the overall environment into quiet, social, collaborative, and speakerphone areas.
  • Enable workers to have choice and control of where they work by providing a range of settings to support multiple work modes: focused, social, learning, and collaborative. Consider a range of “I” to “we” settings in open and enclosed areas.

Proximity - No longer bound by ‘”assigned seating”

  • Encourage workers to switch where they sit on a regular basis to build stronger networks between people, projects, and ideas.
  • Provide vertical surfaces close to collaborative neighborhoods to encourage interaction with content and to groupbuild a “shared mind” around ideas. Design shared information walls close to resident workers as reference points for ongoing work.
  • Consider that any space or affordance that’s more than 50 feet away from the workspace will typically not get used. Design meeting rooms, enclaves, project areas, etc., within close proximity of teams.

Tools - Critical for collaboration

  • Plan every setting as a collaborative setting to maximize the opportunities for collaboration. Provide data, power, shared vertical elements (screens, whiteboards, tack space) to enable the exchange of tacit knowledge.
  • Keep in mind that brainstorming tools that allow workers to democratically participate will best support idea building.

Social – Leveraging informal networks

  • Consider breaking down silos between teams by providing shared casual space for information encounters and sharing work.
  • Consider food as an attractor for bringing people together.
  • Provide for support of shared spaces, collaborative tools, and work behaviors.
  • Consider assigning an “owner” to help facilitate adaptation to the space and cultural changes.
  • Provide open settings where people can work while making themselves accessible to others.

Collaborative Spaces

Work spaces aren’t built simply by putting people next to one another – but are instead an intentional space with the tools necessary for social activities. Below are a few examples from a wide variety of companies put together by Stephen Searer. He writes:
skype  dreamhost bgtpartners1google2
Read more here :

A digital workplace

typeLe cabinet australien Step Two Designs propose une vision d’un espace de travail digital autour des notions de design, d’accès, d’identité, de confiance, et de valeur ajoutée:

“The goal of our story is making the abstract concept of the digital workplace into something concrete.

We have taken a storytelling approach, as this connects with our basic human abilities to learn and explore. Mock screenshots show what the digital workplace could look like. We use narrative to describe the rich detail of daily work, when enterprise tools have changed from being a burden to a joy.

Is this a vision of the far distant future, or just around the corner? You decide.

We share this view of the digital workplace to spark further thinking and discussion, and to encourage the creation of other tangible visions of what the future work may look like.”

talk “This will be Sarah’s third job in seven years, and while she’s become adept at getting up to speed, she’s still not looking forward to the months of feeling like the ‘new kid on the block’. At least her new employer, a consumer goods company, seems to be doing well, even in these difficult economic circumstances….”

A lire ici

Le Retail Lab

Un exemple de réponse

SocialNous proposons de créer un laboratoire sur les pratiques de distribution de produits, de services et d’information au sein du nouvel espace “The Commons” à l’ESC Pau. Cet espace modulable d’environ 80 m2 pourrait comprendre une plateforme retail ainsi qu’un banc de test, une salle de formation et une banque de données sur la législation retail, la gestion de la chaîne logistique et le commerce social. Le Retail Lab de l’ESC Pau proposera une vitrine, un banc de test et un forum sur l’avenir proche de retail dans les marchés aussi divers que le sport, la mode ou le secteur vinicole. L’ensemble consistera en aménagements physiques et digitaux conçus en vue de fournir une expérience personnalisée à chaque usager. L’équipement disponible au sein du lab., fourni par des sponsors, pourrait comprendre des étagères et du stock, ainsi que des cartes de fidélité, du RFID, de la réalité augmentée, des vitrines interactives, des caisses enregistreuses mobiles, des miroirs photo, et du commerce social.   La pédagogie et les études de cas seront disponibles à tout élève participant à nos modules de management, de stratégie et de technologies. Les entrepreneurs et négociants locaux, ainsi que les chaînes nationales et fabricants, pourraient proposer des projets aux élèves. L’école, la CCI et les associations professionnelles pourraient sponsoriser des conférences et des ateliers dans cet espace.   Le Retail Lab sera géré afin d’aider les élèves à concevoir, à planifier, et à mesurer les bénéfices des stratégies de distribution physiques et omnicanal. Les bénéfices pour nos élèves comprendront :   Pedagogy
  • la capacité à mener de la recherche appliquée sur les sujets de distribution et de gestion de la chaîne logistique tout en développant des compétences de chef de projet
  • la compréhension du contexte et de la culture d’entreprise dans l’optimisation des “bonnes pratiques”
  • l’application réelle des concepts exposés en cours
  • l’opportunité de travailler avec des managers, des professeurs et des consultants dans la résolution des enjeux stratégiques
Les bénéfices pour les sponsors comprendront :
  • la mise en place d’un vivier de talents en travaillant avec les élèves français et internationaux
  • la promotion de leur entreprise et de leur vision du marché
  • les beta-tests de leurs idées dans un environnent contrôlé
  • l’accès aux idées et aux pratiques des communautés professionnelles

Liens pédagogiques possibles

  • International Marketing (Bachelor)
  • International Retail Marketing (Bachelor)
  • Management Innovation (MBA France Inde)


Un hub de “makers”


 “Il s’agit de créer un « hub » multiforme : hub d’individus, étudiants /alumni / entreprises/institutions/etc.), hub d’initiatives, hub d’idées, hub d’expositions, etc.

En d’autres mots, un hub de makers, où des initiatives multiples peuvent prendre vie et être hébergées, ou diffusées à plus vaste échelle (idée de tremplin).   C’est une vision riche et qui fait sens. A cette vision j’ajouterai pour ma part un espace de co-création multidimensionnel :
  • un espace de co-working aménagé (un « Minimum Viable Space » dans un premier temps pour laisser aux users l’opportunité d’aménager/s’approprier l’endroit en fonction de leurs différentes visions).
  • je vois un pont entre cet espace (qui ne serait qu’une partie du Hub) et certains programmes de l’école. Mais il pourrait constituer un lieu fort de l’innovation pédagogique et de l’idéation dont certains enseignements pourraient profiter et surtout être constitutifs.
  • je vois un pont entre cet espace et des activités de consulting/conseil pour faire venir les entreprises et organisations en général autour de showcases de nos compétences, voir de sessions de co-working / qui les amèneraient à réfléchir sur leurs stratégies de développement, les nouveaux produits/services, ou démarches qu’elles souhaiteraient mettre en oeuvre.
  • je vois cet espace comme un lieu nouveau de création : « The wall is the new desk » / et un lieu de mutualisation des initiatives issues du Campus (l’ensemble des instituts de formation de Pau).”
Sébastien CHANTELOT   Professeur Entrepreneurship & Innovation   FooterCDI

Un espace du talent

pianoEn rentrant par la Gare de Lyon suite à la journée de réflexion de la CGE sur les technologies d’apprentissage, j’ai vu un espace construit uniquement du talent.

Sur le piano au milieu de la halle 2 un jeune homme d’une soixantaine d’années jouait de Liszt (La symphonie no 6) en attendant son train. Il avait créé un espace autour de lui, en donnant uniquement de son temps et de ses talents, une place habitée par les gens appréciatifs, réflectifs, heureux de partager ce moment privilégié ensemble.

Quel contraste avec les espaces “chaordiques” de notre vie, peuplés par des passants qui semblent n’avoir ni la passion, ni le temps, ni le respect pour autre chose que l’efficacité.

C’était une place épurée qui reflétait la passion bien plus que le marketing ou les notions de “quicker, faster, better”. Comment construire de tels espaces au sein de nos propres écoles ?

Lee Schlenker le 02 avril

The Commons

open doorsA learning place isn’t defined by its physical limits but rather by the activities staged within its walls. Designing a learning place involves engineering a bridge between the institution and the campus, as well as between the campus and the larger community it represents.

My own vision of a learning place is modeled around a notion called The Commons. A learning place is a vision of how we innovate, we work, and we communicate. A learning place is more of a community project than an individual achievement. It is built to deliver collective benefits for all stakeholders rather than just stockholder dividends. Can such a learning place be built in the very heart of a French business school?

The origins of “the Commons” dates back to Roman law where Res publicae referred to “things common to all” whose very nature were both indivisible and incapable of being possessed. Modern applications of the Commons have been traced back to Guillaume d’Orange’s conquest of Britain in which he separated “banal property” which was owned by the king from “common” lands.

What distinguishes open “common” spaces from enclosed “private” property? Peter Barnes suggested that the commons have two defining characteristics: they are all gifts, and they are all shared. Common property evokes shared ownership in which both actual and potential consumers have a stake. Shared ownership also implies shared responsibility in which the community as a whole is responsible for preserving the common good. I would add a third characteristic: common spaces must be cultivated – , shared ownership goes beyond simple consumption to enriching the space for future generations.

Examples of common property today include resources like air, water and and ecosystems, as well cultural properties like health, education, museums, and natural reserves. Mayo Fuster Morell proposed a definition of “digital commons” to quality “information and knowledge resources” like the Web, Wikipedia and open source software that collectively created and shared among a community. Silke Helfrich and Alain Lipietz have argued that the “Commons” is actually an approach to social relations, i.e. an attitude towards the co-creation of both knowledge and wealth.

Is such a vision of learning unrealistic today in a culture dominated by egocentricism, consumerism, and immediacy? The Commons isn’t a space in which we are free to do whatever we want, but rather a place in which we all feel at home. They can’t be reduced to a set of commodities that can be monetized, but represent a common heritage that links past, current and future generations.

The value of the Commons is directly tied to what its “trustees” – students, faculty, and enterprises; contribute to the project for the good of all. This is our vision of the “Design your School” project – a challenge to build a learning place that is all at once a gift, a responsibility, and an opportunity to build a community brand of education for future generations.

Lee Schlenker March 30, 2014

Peut-on savoir où on va sans prendre en compte d’où on vient ?

foyer2Florence BRUNEL nous propose un résumé des aménagements récents du foyer qui méritent d’être prise en compte dans la conception du futur projet : Avant 2010 le foyer était un lieu comprenant un espace bar, une rampe de passage pour les plateaux (comme dans les cafétérias), et une salle de restauration (avec tables et chaises). La délégation d’occupation de l’espace public était assurée par un prestataire extérieur (la sté SERVI’S). Tous les jours étaient servis du snack (croque-monsieur, frites, saucisses, parts de pizzas, salades), et de la restauration chaude un peu plus élaborée. Deux raisons principales nous ont amenées, avec la direction de l’époque, à réfléchir sur la pertinence d’une telle installation : 1/ Ce foyer, qui n’avait pas été prévu à l’origine pour être une cuisine, n’était pas aux normes règlementaires d’hygiène et de sécurité. Pour le mettre aux normes, il aurait fallu investir environ 300 k€ – changement des appareillages, mises aux normes électriques…- pour une restauration d’une qualité moyenne. 2/ La délégation d’occupation de l’espace public arrivait à son terme, nous ne savions pas s’il serait possible de trouver un autre prestataire extérieur pouvant la reprendre, puisque la sté SERVI’S ne souhaitait pas poursuivre sa collaboration avec l’ESC aux mêmes conditions que précédemment. Une fois la décision prise par la direction de l’ESC en accord avec la CCI, de ne pas investir dans une cuisine aux normes, il s’agissait de faire de cet espace un espace neutre, propre, en offrant une alternative de restauration d’appoint gérée pas une entreprise extérieure (3BDA). C’est ce qui a été fait en 2011 (ouverture du nouveau foyer début 2012). Cette réflexion a été menée par différents acteurs de l’école, dont les étudiants. Le fait est qu’une alternative de restauration chaude et variée se trouve à proximité (Restaurant Universitaire, Quick, cafétéria LECLERC…), et qu’il y avait une véritable opacité concernant les chiffres de la fréquentation du foyer le midi par nos étudiant (la sté SERVI’S se plaignant sans cesse que le foyer n’était pas du tout rentable et que nos étudiants préféraient manger au Restau U pour moins cher). Ces deux critères supplémentaires, n’ont pas incité les décideurs à investir dans un vrai lieu de restauration. Depuis lors, les étudiants semblent avoir du mal à s’approprier l’espace, qui est cependant, à mon sens de mieux en mieux appréhendé (les étudiants ayant connu le foyer « ancienne version » ayant à présent quitté l’école, la comparaison n’est plus de mise).

Libraries in the Digital Age

Stephen Platt suggests that books are not yet quite dead. Place and space are also about soul and beauty. From the Times Higher Education supplement : In an increasingly digital world, libraries are surplus to requirements, right? According to the Voices for the Library campaign, more than 10 per cent of the UK’s public libraries are currently at risk of closure by their local authority, and hundreds have been shut down in the past two years alone. For universities, however, both modern and historic libraries are at the heart of campus life. A new book, Reflections: Libraries (published this month by ROADS Publishing), has collected 44 images of the most iconic library buildings, and it includes some inspiring photographs from some of the world’s best known higher education institutions. From the cutting edge Law Library at the University of Zurich, opened in 2004, to the Trinity College Library in Dublin, which has been used by scholars since the 16th century, the images offer a glimpse into the world of university library design, and the many different forms that they can take. Read the full article here.   >