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Ruan van der Merwe

St Andrew’s Anglican College

Empowering Educators is our series in which inspiring Aussie teachers share how they build and nurture entrepreneurial mindsets in their classrooms. This week, Head of Commerce & Entrepreneurship at St Andrew’s Anglican College Ruan van der Merwe shares his insights into creating authentic and connected learning experiences.

Ruan van der Merwe

Q1: Give us three words that describe your life as an educator. 

Chaotic, exciting, rewarding (in that order!)

Q2: What’s one of the best learning experiences you’ve ever delivered? 

One of the best projects my team and I have planned is currently being run in our Middle Years subject, Creative Enterprise (a blend between Entrepreneurship and Digital Technologies).

The project is called ‘Making Space for Change’ where students have to redesign key community spaces in their local beach precinct to be more functional and environmentally sustainability. The project is underpinned by the design thinking methodology during which students empathise with users of the beach precinct, define the existing problems, ideate concepts for redesigning community spaces in the area, and finally, prototype their innovative designs in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality or in 3D.

We believe in offering student choice, so students can choose to prototype their designs across a range of digital platforms such as CoSpacesFloor PlannerSketchUp or the ever-popular Minecraft Education.

During the project, students go on a virtual excursion using Google Earth and Tour Creator to gain better insights into the lay of the land. Students will showcase their final designs at an end-of-term expo to key community stakeholders, including members of our local council. An example of what their final products will look like can be seen here.

If you are interested in a very student-friendly Design Thinking resource, check out what DET NSW have created!

Q3: What’s one book, website or podcast you’d recommend to educators keen to build the entrepreneurial mindsets of their students?

A fantastic book that all educators must read is Design Thinking in the Classroom by David Lee.

Whether students are tackling project based learning or developing solutions in the STEM maker lab, design thinking will help them be more innovative and entrepreneurial. This book will help educators teach 21st century skills such as adaptability, collaboration and critical thinking, and develop students’ mindset in a way that is more conducive to producing innovative solutions. I highly recommend this book!  

Meet this weeks’ Empowering Educator, Ruan van der Merwe.

Ruan is Head of Commerce and Entrepreneurship at St Andrew’s Anglican College in picturesque Noosa. He leads a faculty of nine staff members with a strong focus on integrating 21st century skills, technology and entrepreneurship in the College. In particular, he focuses on ensuring that students develop adaptable, transferable skill sets that are responsive to emergent technologies and business environments.

Ruan is passionate about providing authentic business opportunities to students by engaging with their local entrepreneurial ecosystem and through student participation in business competitions. One such example is his recent collaboration with Future Anything!

Like this? If you’d like to hear from more empowering educators, be sure to subscribe to Future Anything’s regular e-newsletter for more just like this. You can sign up here!

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