Starting a business case studies


For this activity I have chosen a current project even though I do not have any learner outcomes or feedback to reflect upon. I am currently developing a MOOC for the FutureLearn platform which is due to be delivered on 30 June 2014. The course is entitled ‘Starting a business: realise your vision’. A course description and trailer can be accessed at: Developing this course for an online environment has been challenging; my team has been tasked with taking a successful face to face learning activity and ‘making it work’ on an online learning platform with excellent yet limited functionality, for an audience of unknown size, demographic and with unspecified learning expectations.


The task is to build a course around a number of entrepreneurial case studies. The aim to provide the learner with information about the entrepreneur, their start-up business, the challenges they have faced and the options they have identified to take the business forward (without identifying them or their business name).

Once familiar with the business objectives and options, the learners can access the opinions of a number of professional business advisers before they are asked to vote on which option (or options) they think the entrepreneur should take. This decision process is supported through discussion.

Having made their decision the learners find out what option(s) the entrepreneur has actually taken within their business (the reveal); they discover their identity and find out more about their business.

Throughout this process of ‘learning through the experiences of others’, those interested in starting their own business are encouraged to relate the learning to their own business idea.


Our intended outcome is to provide a stimulating, interactive experience for our online learners, which meets the expectations of the academics who deliver this experience on campus. These academics will be supporting the learners on the online platform during the two week delivery period.


This case study activity is complex and we have chosen to describe it on the online environment via an animated audio resource (currently in production, transcript follows).

This course provides the opportunity for learning through the experiences of others. All our case study activities follow the same format so once you have worked through a couple, the steps will become clear. Before you are introduced to the entrepreneur who features in the case study, Nigel provides some context through a short lecture about nurturing creativity and innovation.

Following the lecture you are introduced to Emma. Emma describes her business and highlights a number of challenges she has faced. She then identifies the options she considered when deciding how to take her business forward. You now have the opportunity to use the comment thread to suggest what you think Emma should do. If you have had similar choices to make you may want to share your experiences.

You can then move on to see what the business advisers think. They have each considered Emma’s options and provide some feedback based on their experience and expertise. You can either watch a video that provides a consolidated response or you may choose to watch one or more of the full video responses from each adviser.

You may find that you agree with the advisers or equally you may have a different opinion. The next step gives you the opportunity to have your say by recording your opinion in the poll - you can only vote once but you can return to this page to see the thoughts of other learners.

So as not to leave you in suspense Emma reveals what she actually did to move her business forward. Emma’s reveal video will be uploaded on Tuesday 1st July at 13.00 GMT. Emma will be available to answer any questions you may have between 13.00 and 17.00 GMT on that day.

To conclude the activity there is an opportunity for you to check your understanding and you are then encouraged to relate what you have learned about vision and opportunity to your own business idea by completing the first section of the ‘realise your vision’ document.’

Activity materials:

In the classroom all these participants; the learners, the academic, the entrepreneur and the advisers are in the same room, free to discuss and to reiterate objectives. Online, we have decided to present the learners with the other participants via static video (with audio versions and transcripts). Streamed video of a live event is possible but I would not choose to risk this (due to technology issues, learner broadband speeds and timing issues with learners from around the world).

We would like to present the entire case study experience in one learning step; the learner views the video of the entrepreneur and can discuss this with other learners, they then have the opportunity to view the video response from the 4 advisers (by clicking on thumbnails images). When ready they can click on a button to vote.  At a predefined time the ’reveal’ video is added to the step and the entrepreneur is available online to discuss why they made their choices.

However, as is often the case, learning design is restricted by the learning platform.  Each step can only support one video and the platform does not include the functionality to host a poll. These options will come in time but at the moment we need to leave the platform to achieve functionality and therefore need to present this learning through a series of steps.

Activity outcomes:

We have chosen to use Vimeo to host multiple videos and SurveyMonkey to create the live poll. Rather than have 4 learning steps to provide the business adviser videos we have developed a video with consolidated feedback with the option to download the individual feedback videos via Vimeo. (the consolidated 5 minute video can currently be viewed at: pw: dlt321). We still have more steps than we would like but we hope the introductory animated video will help learners understand the learning journey.


Taking an activity that works well in a face to face situation and replicating it in an online learning environment is not always straightforward. Working to the expectations of the academics involved and within the capabilities of the chosen learning platform requires compromise. It is important to look at the learning journey from the perspective of the learner (who in this case is unknown) and ensure that the steps are clear.






Author(s): Carol Elston, Yishay Mor, Steven Warburton
Published at: 18 Mar 2019 13:44 GMT
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