The lecture yesterday was without a doubt the most interesting lecture of the year, probably of university so far.
I think finally, after the first few weeks of talking about it, and waiting for Brian to return from wherever he was (holiday?), the dialogic structure has fallen into place. It needed to happen this week, as people were getting slightly miffed at the fact we were being told about a revolutionary method of teaching that treats us (students) like capable human beings (as opposed to blank but vaguely keen slates that need to be written on in order to make us appear employable), but the ‘unlectures’ had a distinctly lecture-like feel to them. We were still listening to one person speak for at least half an hour (though we were allowed the enormous privilege of asking one question at the start that may or may not have been answered in that half hour).
(forgive the parentheses)
Things I loved about how this unlecture/symposium was run:
- More that one person spoke. Not only this, but there was less of a sense of hierarchy among the tutors. Brian seems to have balanced the numbers to achieve zen.
- Students in the audience asked questions when they weren’t necessarily asked to (“So, does anyone have any questions about that…?” *crickets chirp and a dust ball rolls across the front of the room*). This, I think, will give other students the confidence to engage more openly, with less fear of being made seem like an idiot in front of the rest of the cohort.
- The content was very interesting. Not to say that the last few weeks have been dull, or that what Adrian was saying was things I already knew, but I think having the other tutors to bounce off made what he had to say a lot more fresh, and much less rehearsed. As the tutors have different ideas about the subject, and the material within the subject, they challenged each other when they spoke. Everyone was thinking, rather than reciting.
- We rehashed over things that we had already talked about from previous weeks. I think this is important in university subjects more generally, as the content that is covered is usually so massive. My friend studying Nursing at La Trobe said they covered the entire content of year 12 psychology in one week. I understand that you are expected to do much of your learning out of university hours, it is still helpful to go over things, just to make sure they were understood, or even to elaborate on them as a segue to the next topic, rather than segmenting each week as a different section of information.
For me, the most interesting part was the last example used by Adrian, about how you intend to get paid in this industry and what you have to do to achieve that. His example was that of a wedding photographer (a past student’s plan for a business).
Why on earth would anyone in their right mind (even if they had cash t throw around) spend $10,000 on hiring a photographer for their wedding when they can just ask Uncle Clive with his digital SLR and iMovie to make it for you. Clive would be keen to do it; then we wouldn’t have to buy a wedding present.
His answer? You must sell the experience, not the product. You must sell the fact that you can film an entire wedding, ceremony and reception, without being noticed by anyone so they feel they are being filmed. You sell your discretion, not your hour of footage. You sell that you will archive the footage of their wedding forever, for free (in case of housefire, flood, loss of the dvd, etc…). That you will send them uncut, additional footage every anniversary to remind them of their special day. You have to do the things that Uncle Clive won’t do.
The industry must not be about selling a thing. Because now, everyone can make these things with software that everyone gets for free on their computers. It must be about selling the experience of the thing. Which I personally, hadn’t thought enough about. It is not enough to just produce great videos, because there are thousands of teenagers with their webcams, with millions of followers, who are able to do the exact same thing, to a much greater audience.
It tied nicely into my conversation this morning with a friend who wants to start up a coffee shop. He was telling me about his connections in the industry and how he would be able to get discounts on the beans, how he has friends who would be willing to invest money into the business to get it started. And while you need these things (a coffee shop without premises or beans wouldn’t be a great coffee shop), you need customers. And you need a reason for customers to come back to your shop, as opposed to the one a block from their house that serves the exact same coffee, for the exact same price.
My answer (thank you Adrian), was the feel of the place. Everything from the decor, to the music playing, the staff that work there, the cups that people will drink from, and the sugar they will stir into their drinks. A customer must feel comfortable and at ease using a product (or buying a cup of coffee) or they won’t use it, because if they are willing to sacrifice comfort, they will find a very cheap solution to whatever the problem they face, or service they need.
The Moat, under the Wheelers Center, is where I go for coffee when I’m at uni. Why? The one on campus is cheaper. Druid’s Cafe is much closer. Mr Tulk serves the exact same stuff. And if I do a quick google search; “coffee shops swanston st”, this is what Google maps tells me.
WHY ON EARTH WOULD I GO TO THE MOAT IF THERE ARE THIS MANY OTHER OPTIONS WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE?!
My answer? The feel of it. I like the place. I feel comfortable there. At home even. I’d be quite happy to spend the day there, just reading or writing. I like that they play quite classical or jazz over the speakers. I like that there is a different kind of spoon with each jar of sugar. I like that I know one of the waiters is called Stewart, and that he plays golf and used to own his own restaurant. I like that he knows I teach children to swim and do triathlons. I like that I don’t even have to talk to them anymore, I just sit down, and within a few minutes, a flat white will appear in front of me. I like them enough that I have brought at least a dozen people there since the beginning of the year, who had never heard of it, and some of them have become regulars too. It is comfortable, and easy, and I will probably keep going there till I finish my degree, spending hundreds of dollars on coffees and snacks, and probably even go there if I get an office job in the city after I finish uni.
Why? Because as Adrian said, I’m not paying for the coffee, I’m paying for the experience.