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‘Developing new skills with Pitch2Peer’ - Milande Busquet (U.S.E.)

Milande Busquet

How do you make online learning more fun? Milande Busquet, PhD candidate at the Entrepreneurship section of our Economics Department, found the answer with Pitch2Peer. Using this tool, her students can give remote feedback on each other's pitches and train new skills at the same time. What are her experiences? 

‘A few years ago, I started teaching at the School of Economics. It felt strange to teach completely 'offline', while students are increasingly in an online environment, partly due to social media. Can't we adapt our education more to the world we live in? And can't we integrate more online tools, making it more fun to learn online? With this in mind, two colleagues and I attended Educate-it's Winter Course, an inspiration day where teachers are introduced to the possibilities of blended learning. Here I got introduced to Pitch2Peer, an online environment linked to Blackboard in which students post pitches. A pitch is an assignment in the form of, for example, a video recording of a presentation, to which fellow students can then give feedback.

Who is who?
For three years now, we have been using this tool within the Sustainable Entrepreneurship course. In this course, students from various study programmes work together in groups to set up a sustainable or social enterprise. During the course, they work on assignments, give each other feedback and finally present their enterprise. One of the best assignments in my opinion is our introduction assignment in Pitch2Peer. We ask the students to create a kind of PowerPoint slide in which they briefly introduce themselves using their photo, study background and interests. All these 'profiles' end up in an online gallery, which the students can scroll through. This online introduction is a useful tool for the first assignment in which students have to brainstorm together about a topic that matches their interests. The students then form groups, in which they work together for the rest of the course.

Critical reflection
Halfway through the course, students have to pitch their business model via Pitch2Peer. We ask them to share their first ideas about the business they want to set up in a three-minute video. They upload their video before the deadline of the timeline in the tool. Students are then randomly sent three videos, which they have to assess using a list of criteria for feedback. This is an instructive assignment that requires students to think critically, while it is also a fun way to gain inspiration from others. The feedback received is then discussed in their own groups. 

Letter fatigue
During the corona period, we used Pitch2Peer more intensively, with students being required to submit more assignments via the tool. The video assignments have a visual approach, which is stimulating. Certainly in a period in which students spend so much time behind their laptops. While you can send each other texts, at some point you get tired of all those letters on your screen. For this reason, this tool is less suitable for assignments with a lot of text. In addition to this fast, bite-sized form of education, the deep delving into the subject matter remains important. It should therefore not be the only way in which you present the material. 

Tips & tricks
When you first start using Pitch2Peer, you have to figure out how everything works, for example setting deadlines within the tool's timeline. Once you understand the tool, you will realise that there are certain tricks and techniques to set everything up correctly. In the Blackboard environment, for example, you can copy the assignments from previous years into a new course. That's rather handy, because then you only have to adjust the deadlines and possibly the instruction. The tool works well when you divide a number of assignments over the length of the course. Weekly assignments with feedback seem rather intensive to me.

New skills
Our video assignments in Pitch2Peer stimulate the students to develop a set of new skills in a way that is not possible in regular education. The students have to think about the content they are going to submit and use their creativity to do so. We provide an entrepreneurship course where we don't just want to teach our students what entrepreneurship really is about, but also let them experience this. Pitching is a useful skill in business and putting this on film supports the learning process. You can look back at yourself and provide others with feedback. All in all, Pitch2Peer, together with the votingtool Mentimeter and the sessions in breakout rooms, brought more dynamic elements to our course. The students appreciated this and saw that we made an effort to make the teaching fun.

Interested to learn more about Pitch2Peer or do you have further questions? Check the Tool Guide.

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