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Things we love 9

At FutureLearn, we’re always on the look out for new sources of inspiration and share what we learn with the world every month in our “Things we love” series. Here, our team talk about some of their favourite things from around the web and a few of their writings and talks elsewhere.

`A book that inspired us this month: Creativity, Inc.
A book that inspired us this month: Creativity, Inc.

Our inspiration

Creativity, Inc.

I’ve just finished this book by Ed Catmull, one of the founders of Pixar and the current president of both Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios. His book tells the story of how Pixar created and maintained their creative culture, while always focusing on telling great stories. I love the movies Pixar make, and hearing how the process behind the telling of these stories works only make me love them more.

– Melinda Seckington, Developer

Super Mario Maker

To commemorate 30 years of Super Mario Bros., Nintendo have released Super Mario Maker – a game that gives players the tools to create and share their own 2D Mario levels, and play those made by others. It’s a joy to explore the wild (and often devious) imaginations of other players, but what I’ve found most rewarding is how, through the process of cobbling together my own stages, I am suddenly appreciating the design of the levels I grew up with in a whole new way.

– David Thair, Social Lead

You’re not listening

This is a great reminder of how important a skill listening is and how hard it is to do well with plenty of suggestions for how to do it well. I should re-read this every few months to make sure I don’t forget.

– Joel Chippindale, CTO

How to manage for collective creativity

Fabulous TED talk by Linda Hill that inspired me whilst thinking about how to better define my own role here at FutureLearn. To quote her “…our role as leaders is to set the stage, not perform on it. If we want to invent a better future, and I suspect that’s why many of us are here, then we need to reimagine our task. Our task is to create the space where everybody’s slices of genius can be unleashed and harnessed, and turned into works of collective genius.”

– Lucy Blackwell, Creative Director

Questions are the new comments

This post, recommended by Storythings (sign up to their newsletter here), is about the world of journalism – the author wonders what might happen if our news was driven by the public, instead of driven by the newsroom. It caught my attention because of the emphasis we place on social learning at FutureLearn, with comments being the main realisation of this at the moment. It made me wonder what education might look like if learners and their big questions came first, and got me thinking about what more we could do to encourage this on FutureLearn.

– Kathy Skelton, Head of Strategy

Mind the Product

The product management team took a day out to go and be inspired with over 1200 of their peers at London’s premier product management conference, Mind The Product. The videos of the talks will be posted soon on the Mind the Product website – keep an eye out. The team particularly enjoyed Nilan Peiris from TransferWise on growing the culture of a product team in a talk titled Product = People (which he has also blogged about), Natalie Nahai, the web psychologist on the Physiological Principles of Product Design and Google Ventures’ Kenneth Norton on thinking “10x”.

– Matt Walton, Head of Product

`Brandjacking examples by Sysomos at Social Media Week
Brandjacking examples by Sysomos at Social Media Week

Social Media Week

It’s been an interesting week at #SMWLDN so far (courtesy of Digital Blonde) with lots of great talks. This year, 4 key themes were the focus of the conference: ‘Bridging the gap between digital and physical worlds’, ‘Storytelling & Content marketing’, ‘New audiences and the changes in our connected society’ and ‘The future of work’.

So many ideas and good discussions but here are couple that inspired me:

  • Iris Worldwide did a fun talk showcasing some of the Agency’s big hit campaigns for Domino’s such as their Valentine’s Day campaign on Tinder or their #Dominosmeltdown competition.
  • Sysomos (social media analytics) announced the acquisition of GazeMetric a company that uses an algorithm to search the visual web. It’s all about linking to visual data. You can even use technology to find Brandjacking.

– Rita Fevereiro, Marketing Manager

Tooling Up

The design team at FutureLearn often lament the slow progress of design software and the fact that we are still using (in many cases hacking) programs that were built for the purposes of static page design. There is a need for new tools that allow us to easily design for responsive environments, prototype non-linear user journeys, and visualise richer interaction patterns. This interview with the founders of Pixate and Form – two applications that are pushing the boundaries in this area – has some interesting insights into how the thinking behind the design tools we use may be starting to change.

– Kieran McCann, Visual Designer

Us Elsewhere

`Sketchnotes of I Talk In Class by Scriberia
Sketchnotes of I Talk In Class by Scriberia

Talking in Class at The Curious Festival

Matt Walton gave a talk called I Talk In Class at The Curious Festival, in Kings Cross, a free festival ‘powered’ by The Knowledge Quarter, of which FutureLearn is a partner. His talk was drawn by the brilliant Scriberia.

Learning through blameless reviews

A video of a talk Joel Chippindale gave at the September meeting of London Ruby User Group. He talked about one of the techniques our teams use to help them learn from their experiences.

Learn, reflect, repeat

As developers, we’re constantly learning: whether it’s figuring out how to solve new problems and bugs, or focusing on new skills and knowledge to apply to our work. How can we create a culture of learning to support this? Last Saturday Melinda Seckington gave a talk at State of the Browser about this:

Imposter syndrome & tail -f

Following Melinda’s talk at State of the Browser, Nicky Thompson wrote this post about imposter syndrome and how we should all share those “banging your head against the wall moments”. We all make mistakes, but it’s what we do after we make those mistakes that matters.

Seen something lately that you think we’ll love? Share it in the comments below. Want to know more about the way we work? Take a look at all of our “Making FutureLearn” posts.

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