Reshaping Wicked Problems

Innovator in Residence Ruben Puentedura shares key details about the 2021 Unconference’s Black Swan Game on July 21

Stephanie Jeanine King

— Jul 06, 2021

On Day 2 (July 21) of ShapingEDU’s 2021 virtual Unconference, attendees are invited to gather at Black Swan Lake with Innovator in Residence Ruben R. Puentedura for the Black Swan Game. Ruben will lead a Black Swan simulation focused on learning in the face of disruption to set the tone of strategizing around the unexpected. The goal? To seek out ways to become antifragile in living and learning — to move beyond resilience to thriving through disruption. 

Watch the video below which introduces you to the concept of Black Swan Thinking and then read on to learn more about what will take place during the game and the short- and long-term benefits of attending the upcoming simulation.

Ruben Puentedura

Question: If you had to describe the Black Swan Game in two sentences, what would you say?
Ruben Puentedura (RP):
As the game opens, you’ll play a key role on one of multiple teams, designing and building antifragile academic and urban communities in the New Normal post-pandemic world. Trouble is, the New Normal turns out to be anything but — there’ll be a Black Swan or two coming your way, your choices may create a few additional cygnets for the other teams, and throughout the game information may be incomplete or false — no problem, you got this, right?

Q: Does attending the Black Swan Game require preparation? Why should a registrant attend?
Attending the game does not require preparation, although viewing ShapingEDU Black Swan Thinking Project past materials beforehand will certainly enrich the experience. The Game itself will be a rather unique role-playing experience: it will be fun, but a bit painful at times, destabilizing some commonly held assumptions, but providing contexts for thinking toolsets to engage this process. In short, a touch more interesting and exciting than academic-themed variants of Monopoly. 

Q: How will the Black Swan Game prepare participants for the following two days of programming?
The next two days of the Unconference will focus on wicked problems, which are not just difficult to solve — they’re near-impossible to formulate in the first place. The Black Swan Game will be quite unlike the usual “clean” academic simulation, with sharply predefined challenges and goals: it will require that players deal with rule sets and conditions shifting under their feet, making decisions based upon incomplete information — and finding that those decisions themselves may well make the next steps to be taken more opaque. In other words, an ideal introduction to thinking about wicked problems.

Q: Beyond preparing participants for the subsequent two days of programming, what will the game prepare them to do in life/work/learning?
The world right now is not the sort of place where change occurs mostly predictably and smoothly, and traditional toolsets are not up to the challenge. The Black Swan Game is intended to help open the door to different frameworks for planning, design, and implementation in this world — and to have a bit of what Seymour Papert called “hard fun” in the process.

Register now to join Ruben on July 21 at the Black Swan Game and apply your learnings when you attend the 2021 Unconference!

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Stephanie Jeanine King