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Thursday, June 19 • 2:00pm - 2:50pm
CON6.12 – Entering the Dragon's Den to Teach Entrepreneurship: Using a Taxonomy to Leverage the Learning Value of Reality-Based Television in the Undergraduate Classroom (Room A342)

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This interactive workshop is an opportunity for delegates to learn through an interactive exercise how to transform reality-based television into a high-value undergraduate learning experience through the strategic use of taxonomy. Dragons' Den is a Canadian television reality show, in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists in the hopes of securing business financing. The show debuted on October 3, 2006 on CBC Television. Over the past seven years, approximately 300 entrepreneurs have presented their business ideas to over 2 million viewers weekly. Despite the show’s popularity, it has been openly criticized for its lack of educational value.

The primary question to answer in this learning project is: How can the educational value be separated from the entertainment value of CBC’s Dragons’ Den in a way to help teach entrepreneurship to undergraduate business students? At a general level, my teaching goal is to provide the optimal learning environment for undergraduate students to rapidly advance from novices to experts in the domain of evaluating early stage business ideas.

I strive to achieve these teaching goals by breaking down the informational clutter, allowing student entrepreneurs to use a focused framework (in the form of taxonomy) for opportunity assessment and venture investment decision-making. The overall method used to answer the teaching development question was fundamentally taxonomic.

Classification of knowledge using taxonomy provides building blocks with which to construct understandings (Stefik 1995; Saracevic and Kantor 1997).  The practice of taxonomy reflects the human instinct to organize and classify our experiences and perceptions of the world (Grove 2003: 2270). An essential contribution of taxonomy to a discipline is its ability to disambiguate terminology by representing the relationships between concepts and providing context in which to understand and use domain-specific vocabularies (Maity, Bhattacharya et al. 1992; Grove 2003: 2276).

Utlizing Dragons’ Den in an educational manner involved 24 teams of undergraduate students focused on classification and comparison of 81 Dragon’s Den deals from archived video clips on the CBC website. The learning activity was to classify each Dragon’s Den deal as a prelude to systematic comparison of their dominant, salient attributes.

There are only a few examples in the literature of using Reality TV in the undergraduate classroom.  Slater (2012) used the Realty TV show Survivor to teach Prisoners’ Dilemma Strategies in economics. Burr, Vivien and King, Nigel (2011) document teaching research ethics through reality TV in Big Brother. 

There doesn’t seem to be any discussion in the literature (to date) focused on the benefits of applying taxonomies to Reality-TV in the undergraduate classroom.  The last part of this workshop will focus on discussing how other disciplines may benefit from this project as a model suggesting the use of: (1) Survivor in the Psychology Classroom, (2) Antiques Roadshow in the Fine Arts Classroom and (3) America’s Next Top Model in a Gender Studies, Fashion Design or Media Studies Classroom.


Thursday June 19, 2014 2:00pm - 2:50pm EDT
A342 McArthur Hall