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Paul Ranson MBA, PGCert.
- Module Leader and Lecturer
Paul is a 'real life' entrepreneur and entrepreneurial champion to boot working out of the IICED via his back bedroom in Warwick.
He describes himself as a Human, Entrepreneur and Academic, and to him the order is important! His role in the university is that of a Champion of Entrepreneurial Learning. He also leads the PGCert in Enterprise Skills programme, a course that he co-developed with colleagues at IICED.
As an HEA fellow he mentors colleagues to achieve similar recognition.
Paul is also known as the 'geek to seek' on all things to do with educational technology. Based on many years of creating digital content, it is Paul’s personal mission to create clever and interesting material that supports UWTSD learners. To this end Paul has created content benefits from a career in video games and boasts interactive web apps, digital artwork, video and chatbots. All done, he is at pains to explain, within the 'beautiful constraint' of the tools and tech available to the university.
A keen hiker who loves the Welsh mountains and valleys, amongst many ambitions, Paul intends to walk his dog Max around the perimeter of Wales. He has walked Offa’s Dyke, the Pembrokeshire coastal path, and the millennium path around the entire Gower Peninsular.
Paul keeps chickens in his back garden in Warwick which he shares with his partner Lynnie. Together with their Jackapoo Max, the pair are famous for their eclectic parties and extreme driving holidays in Southern Europe. Although usually achieved in a Mini Cooper convertible the latest one around the Camargue was engaged in luxury in their Jaguar 'The Lady Susan'. Frankly, he says, it is more comfortable.
His entrepreneurial chops were developed making world class video games. He and his colleagues have made over 300 retail titles for Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox consoles. He has created and sold three businesses: two sold on the London Stock Exchange and the US 'Pink Sheets'. A third business unfortunately went bust. 'It’s a by-product of being entrepreneurial,' he explains, 'every entrepreneur goes bust at least once.'
He is not just a digital guy. Paul’s business activities include importing and selling Japanese cars, Chinese greenhouses, and ultra-sonic cat scarers. His latest exploits include running three Airbnbs.
Academically Paul is a product of the University of Warwick (WBS) where he gained a distinction for his MBA dissertation. He qualified with a PGCert (Distinction) from the UWTSD after a period working at the Birmingham campus. He is also an HEA fellow.
Paul has a passion for enterprise education and in particular the EntreComp approach to learning for which he is a certified trainer working on behalf of the UWTSD.
It is his passion that Entrepreneurial Competencies are valuable assets to students not just in the Business sector, but all manner of Arts, Academia, and Advocacy in Humanity subjects from Archaeology to Zoology.
Paul is a qualified in PRINCE2 and DSDM Agile Project Management.
He is part of a team of mentors that advises creative businesses in the West Midlands funded by the Combined Authority called the Creative Scale-Up programme.
He also informally advises start-up businesses in all manner of creative sectors from theatre to video production.
Paul found resonance in his own approach to enterprise after reading Saras Sarasvathy and Effectuation. Saras’ book has become the foundation of the PGCert and a vocab handbook so that Paul can use professional terminology to make his experiences to date sound super-professional.
He is a keen advocate of the Feynman technique. This approach argues that to be considered an expert, one must be able to communicate ideas in a way that a 12-year-old would understand. To this end, his lessons are laced with contemporary references with a view of synthesising complexity into nuggets that students will understand and remember.
His work at Warwick Business School saw him investigating the neuroscience behind decision-making and the work of Cass Sunstein and Nudge. His dissertation has been published and was focused on experiments using his Airbnbs.
A colleague in the fire service sparked a life-long curiosity in Systems Theory. He is fascinated about the similarities of a career in video game production and his mate’s firefighting experiences. This was augmented by the systems theories of Cynefin by Dave Snowden. As such Paul’s academic interest is flavoured by complexity.
Of particular fascination to Paul is the concept of cognitive dissonance. The idea that two opposing ideas can be simultaneously correct is something that he feels is a great draw for anyone who seeks to become a lifelong learner. What’s more he says, it explains so much about success and failure in our enterprises: for every successful VHS cassette there is a team arguing that their Betamax failure should have been a contender!
Paul’s interests revolve around teaching and learning based on his experiences at making video games and the neuroscience behind decision-making. This odd combination finds its way in the materials he has created for the university.
At the time of writing, Paul is spending energy on the development of a chatbot that uses a technology called GPT3.
He explains that this tech is a step change in creating what appear to be sentient entities. He is currently pursuing the idea of training a chatbot to become a teaching assistant that is on hand to assist students of the PGCert 24x7.
Paul considers himself to be a lifelong learner. When you work in tech, he explains, you can only be an expert for so long: it’s constantly evolving. What is in the newspapers today will become the paper wrapping your portion of chips tomorrow.
He thinks that expertise is largely mercurial. That said, he considers his Airbnb skills are largely immune to change. For example, he can change a duvet cover faster than anyone he has met, and is up for anyone to challenge him.
Paul runs a boutique consultancy that delivers clever solutions based on game technology and gamification techniques. Projects have been commissioned for the University for Industry (UFI), NHS Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust, and Arriva Trains to name a few.
Paul want to make readers aware that he also runs three Airbnbs in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
Paul's Masters dissertation was published in International Journal of Culture Tourism and Hospitality Research ahead-of-print:
- "Please tidy up before leaving": nudging Airbnb guests toward altruistic behavior DOI: 10.1108/IJCTHR-06-2019-0101
- Kirby, D.A, Healey-Benson, F. & Ranson, P. (2021). ‘Harmonious Entrepreneurship for resilient communities’. Nexus + Conference, UWTSD, Wales, 2nd July 2021.
- Healey-Benson, F. & Ranson, P. (2020). ‘Striving to Thrive: learning and innovating through entrepreneurial education’. Nexus + Conference, UWTSD, Wales, 14th July 2020.
- Ranson, P. (2021).‘Creativity with Paul Ranson’. EntreCompEdu Café Webinar Series, 20th January 2021. Creative Comms Attribution.
- Ranson, P. (2021). ‘Entrepreneurial Learning and Sustainable Development' with Paul Ranson
.EntreCompEdu Café Webinar Series, 9th June 2021. Creative Comms Attribution.
Before becoming an educator, Paul ran successful video game businesses, two of which he sold as Initial Public Offerings on the London Stock Exchange and Pink Sheet markets.
Paul is often asked which were his most famous games. Because he is an old man, many of the original titles were made before the younger students were born.
His early titles that oldies may remember include Dizzy with the 'Oliver twins'. The one everyone will have heard of is Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The one everyone loves is Micro Machines for Codemasters. The one that made the most money was Andre Agassi Tennis Generation but he doesn’t like to talk about that 😊.