this document - the Enhancement Themes website

International Conference on Enhancement
and Innovation in Higher Education
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow
9-11 June 2015
Jason Robertson
University of the West of Scotland
Digital Pigs and Digital Natives: How FarmVille
Prefigures The Future of
Higher Education
Purpose of HE
The 1997 report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher
Education argued higher education should sustain a learning society
with four main purposes:
· to inspire and enable individuals to develop their capabilities to
the highest potential levels throughout life, so that they grow
intellectually, are well equipped for work, can contribute effectively to
society and achieve personal fulfilment
· to increase knowledge and understanding for their own sake and
to foster their application to the benefit of the economy and society
· to serve the needs of an adaptable, sustainable, knowledgebased economy at local, regional and national levels
· to play a major role in shaping a democratic, civilised, inclusive
Purpose of HE
Freire’s “banking” model.
Chomsky’s “enlightenment”
Neoliberalism’s “surplus of
income over expenditure”
(profit) model.
For the student
Thinning of the herd
Standard & Poor: “It is our belief that colleges or
universities that are unable to distinguish
themselves in the market through their
reputation or offerings will have to compete for
students purely on price, which will weaken
demand and possibly cut into their enrolments
over time”.
“middle-tier” universities without sufficient
resources to reinvest may go out of business or
have to merge with others.
Economist (June 28th 2014): Students
at universities just below Ivy League
level are more sensitive to the rising
cost of degrees, because the return on
investment is smaller. Those colleges
might profit from expanding the ratio of
online learning to classroom teaching,
lowering their costs while still offering
the prize of a college education
conducted partly on campus.
The Problem With MOOCs
• Plutonomy
& precariat
• Costs
• Dominated
• Compete
• Free
by established brands
or join aggregator
must have value
• Certificaion
- and must have value
• Monetisation
• Soft
• Measurement
of medium and long-term impact
Kalman (2014): MOOCs “are beneficial mainly to a minority of
highly self-motivated individuals who already have a solid
academic background” and poorly serve those from
disadvantaged backgrounds and also form developing
Mazoue (2013): “skews toward autodidacts and more
advanced learners. Novice learners needing instructional
guidance are largely on their own and no better off perhaps
than those in a large gateway course delivered in a lecture
hall on campus. Although improving the quality of student
learning is one of the priorities of the major MOOC providers,
most of their courses currently lack a sophisticated learning
architecture that effectively adapts to the individual needs of
each learner.”
Udacity employs state-of-the-art
technology and sophisticated
pedagogical strategies to keep their
users engaged, peppering students
with quizzes and gamifying their
education with progress meters and
badges. But a recent study found that
only 7% of students in this type of
class actually make it to the end.
Technology & Education
Umair Haque:
“sets of practices so familiar that
they become institutionalised,
frozen in place”
“disrupt yourself before
someone comes along and
does it” (Google).
“The same technology that enables files
to be shared easily also offers an
unprecedented opportunity to build oneto-one relationships with your customers
and fans. The web enables artists and
businesses to share what they do at a
very low cost while building relationships
with customers…. How you choose to
respond to this opportunity will determine
how you fare in the digital age.”
Nicholas Lovell.
What business are we in?
A move from scarcity and monopoly to
abundance and low margin costs.
The creative disruption of digital
(Schumpeter’s “creative disruption” & Clay Christensen’s “innovator’s dilemma” - oligarchs concentrate on existing customers and
established ways to maintain dominance. Innovators look for new ways and new customers).
Economist (2012): “Anant Agarwal, who runs edX, proposes
an alternative to the standard American four-year degree
course. Students could spend an introductory year learning
via a MOOC, followed by two years attending university and a
final year starting part-time work while finishing their studies
online…..Some universities are already adding digital classes
to their syllabuses. In Brazil, Unopar University offers low-cost
degree courses using online materials and weekly seminars,
transmitted via satellite. In America, Minerva University has
entry criteria to rival the best Ivy League colleges, but far
lower fees (around $10,000 a year, instead of up to $60,000).
The first batch of 20 students has just been accepted for
Minerva’s foundation year in San Francisco, and will spend
the rest of their course doing online tutorials while living
outside America, with an emphasis on spending time in
emerging economies as a selling-point to future employers.”
Open University
Plus most universities commercial online
Cogbooks (for business)
• edX
• Udemy
• Udacity
• Minerva
• Fullbridge
• Harvard/MIT
• Khan
• Coursera.
• Unopar
Economist (2014 June 28th):
“a more varied MOOC-ecology might
end up with varying price-tiers,
ranging from a basic free model to
more expensive bespoke ones.”
Kirschner’s three parallel online models:
One is free access to the course materials,
including progress assessments. No
supporting services are provided.
A second is to provide tutorial support for the
course materials at a fee that supports access
to faculty—similar to “auditing” in U.S.
The third is the complete course, including
certification assessment and certification for
academic credit.”
Traditional Games
One-off payment (box-sales, nine payment).
Virtual currency
Perfect price discrimination.
Scarcity and luxury
Rentals (serial purchases, appears less
objectionable than paying again for upgrade)
Server-leasing - hire space to others
Immersion: Simulation games make the most money,
followed by adventure, then role-play.
Key Free-To-Play (F2P) games producers/publishers are:
Zynga, Team Lava, EA, Gameloft, Glu, Admired, Pocket
Gems, Storm8, Rovio, Popcap, TinyCo, Z2Live and
F2P games include Plants V Zombies (also P2P
upgrades), Clash of Clans, and FarmVille (the latter 3 with
in-game purchase options: upgrades, special items,
updates, catch-ups, expansion packs, level unlocks etc.
via micro-payments). All also offer merchandise.
Perceived value
Gifts (shared) (some exclusive)
In-game purchases
Activity metrics
Iteration cycles
Compulsion loops
Asynchronous parallel development
and interaction
Platforms datamine, then optimise
and personalise content for the
Marc Andreessen: “A lot of people looked at
Facebook and saw a Web site. None of the
people close to Mark and the company thought
of Facebook as a Web site. They think of it as a
data set, a feedback loop.”
Ken Rudin famously declared, "We’re an
analytics company masquerading as a games
company." The whole games industry now uses
player analysis and iteration to alter games postrelease. And now Rubin is head of analytics at
Facebook, which is effectively an analytics
company masquerading as a social network.”
FREE need not be a threat.
(It can be our competitive advantage!)
An opportunity to talk to more customers than ever before at a very low
Value our freeloaders. They evangelise and sometimes convert. Use
free to find an audience (content marketing - build a relationship via the
quality of experience and use analytics and data tools to understand the
Make your customers want you to contact them again or come back on
their own).
Create a customer relationship management system. Use technology
to stay in touch with that audience and figure out what they value.
Allow those who love what you do to spend lots of money on things they
really value.
The Zynga Philosophy
Since its inception in 2007, Zynga has
generated more than $1.5 billion in
The Zynga Philosophy
Since its inception in 2007, Zynga has
generated more than $1.5 billion in
But the core element of their product
is FREE.
The Zynga Philosophy
Free = Content
Only about 2.5% of users pay
for something.
But their audience is global.
Big bankroll!
Dashboard for analytics. Which metrics
matter - track them. Train staff in use.
OKRs. (Objectives and key results) - constant
quality and efficacy review and updates.
Permanent beta-testing. Fail fast and adapt.
A stable platform. Design for an expanded
market and new users.
Technology allows consumers to choose
based on filtering and community
Shareware - try before you buy.
Free pathway.
Disaggregate and scaffold - increasing
Micro-transactions - disaggregated.
FTUE. (First-Time User Experience).
Engagement, discovery, achievement and
What you want where you want how you want
Immediate reward to bind the user.
Guided tutorial and refined interface.
Allow players to progress by helping their
Use of call-to-action, reminders to rejoin and
updates on progress of others (and enable to help
stragglers) plus crowd-source support; peerpressure; gawking and grandstanding.
Biggest spenders don’t start spending until they
have played the game at least eight times. The
best opportunity to make an impression is in the
first three clicks.
Perpetual users (life-long learners) - the gift that
keeps on giving.
Strategic partnerships - platforms.
Cross promote.
User generated content (on platform and
on social media).
Get lots of users, improve conversion rate,
and let them spend as much as they want.
Spend money to acquire users .
Interact in deep ways. Improve the quality of the
social experience.
Social and viral hooks (reward shares and likes,
post scores, rating and feedback). Word of
mouth - Farmville added 300,00 users a day/14
million registered in a matter of months).
Viral loop - UGC, posts to social networks.
Social: gawking, being seen and cooperation.
By autumn of 2009, Zynga was selling something like
800,000 virtual tractors a day. (All of that was
happening amid the greatest financial collapse in
modern times).
February, 2010, Zynga had six of the top 10 games on
Facebook and had more than 239 million monthly
active users. FarmVille alone had more than 79 million
The wider the funnel, the more potential converts.
Then Pay
Multi-level/multi-price points
Level 1:
Multi-level/multi-price points
Level 2:
Online Paying
Multi-level/multi-price points
Level 3: UPSELL!
Full-service Paying
Value is complex and variable. Flat pricing is
an anachronism.
If they want to spend more, enable them! “inapp” purchases and upgrades make money.
It’s a social experience, and content
aggregators are important doorways to the
Analytics, tracking and iterative
redevelopment and customisation for
consumer. Customer management system.
The User Communities
The resource can operate at all levels:
a) a public resource/new students to join
b) on-line-only students
c) existing students on traditional
d) graduates/professionals - upgrade,
update, new specialism
e) pop-up campus