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  • Writer's pictureLucy Hatt

Ideas please! - ways to animate threshold concepts in entrepreneurial thinking


Karen Zack @teenybiscuit


I have won some funding to develop a set of short, animated films to explain each of the seven threshold concepts in entrepreneurial thinking Dave Jarman and I developed last year, and how they work as a cluster and enable integration of entrepreneurial thinking into other disciplinary areas.


Just by way of a reminder, here they are again:


Entrepreneurship is a Practice

Practitioners understand that entrepreneurship is a practice that anyone can use in any context to create new value. It is a way of doing things, a way of thinking and practicing or a way of seeing the world, that manifests as creation of value in response to opportunities and challenges.


Your Context is Your Opportunity to Create Value

Practitioners habitually and constantly create and recognise opportunities within their own context to create value. Practitioners are habitually resourceful and make use of what they find to realise and exploit opportunities to create value.


Value is Defined by Others

Practitioners understand only other people can define the value of what they have created, and others demonstrate the value they place on what is being offered by being prepared to give something tangible or intangible in exchange for it (money, time, goodwill etc).


Iterative Experimentation

Embracing small failures as a means of maximising opportunities to learn from mistakes as well as success. Like the process of scientific experimentation where an experiment generates data, iterative experimentation in this context is less emotive and outcomes are not deemed necessarily to be “successes” or “failures”.


Recognises their Agency

Practitioners recognise that they always have some agency to create value, or that it is at least beneficial to assume that they do and should take ownership of their actions.


Taking Action

Practitioners know that intention must be translated into action for value to be created. Intention PLUS will is all-important to create or exploit an opportunity for value.


Knowledge is Always Partial and Often Ambiguous

Practitioners understand that you can still act even if the situation is not perfect, ideal, or even favourable – but that the process of taking action is likely to lead to new situations, learnings, and ultimately opportunities.


I’m looking for ideas on how animations might be used best…


Do you think a before and after format would work?


Or maybe a split screen with without the understanding on one side and with on the other?


How would you do it?


I’d like to incorporate a transformational perspective somehow, where you think you’re looking at one thing, but it turns out you’re looking at another…





I just read a paper (Cheng, 2016) exploring variation theory which appears to hold great potential for designing these animations.


According to Marton, Runesson and Tsui (2004) there are four patterns of variation: contrast (i.e., recognizing values of an aspect), generalization (i.e., experiencing varied appearances of the same value), separation (i.e., separating aspects with varying values from invariant aspects), and fusion (i.e., experiencing several critical aspects simultaneously).


Cheng (2016) describes three steps in teaching his students about two different theories relating to knowledge management.

1. teach the two theories one by one using examples

2. illustrate the difference between the two theories using examples

3. test student understanding by way of exercises


How does this sound as a potential way to set out this set of threshold concepts in the form of animations? Although it’s unreasonable to expect someone to develop a full understanding of the threshold concept from a zero base by watching a 1-minute animation, we can make a good start. I’m anticipating that most of the audience for the films will already have a developed understanding of the threshold concepts we are talking about, so the work of the films will be to make tacit knowledge explicit (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995).


Your ideas please!


Cheng, E. W. (2016). Learning through the Variation Theory: A Case Study. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 28(2), 283-292.

Marton, F., Runesson, U., & Tsui, A. B. M. (2004). The space of learning. In F. Marton, A. B. M. Tsui, P. P. M. Chik, P. Y. Ko, & M. L. Lo (Eds.), Classroom discourse and the space of learning (pp. 43-62). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum

Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The knowledge creating company. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

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