The Business Model Canvas

I really like the lean startup movement as a learning community, their work on iterative project design and measuring real metrics (as opposed to vanity metrics) is really interesting.


Recently I “discovered” the Business Model Canvas designed by Alex Osterwalder. The canvas is used to map out a business model against nine building blocks.


Business Model Canvas Explained

Alex gave the canvas a creative commons license so lots of people and sites use it. One of those was Steve Blank from Harvard Business School who uses it to teach entrepreneurship. Steve also started Lean Launch Lab, which has taken the business model canvas, and turned it into a web application. The most interesting thing is that the canvas isn’t static its iterative, imagine a graphic organiser meets a wiki. Note: Lean Luanch Lab wasn’t the first to do this, if you want a have a play with a simple iterative graphic organiser go here, no sign up needed.


I believe that the opportunities for formal and informal learning are profound. As schools we try to pretend that authentic projects move from a known problem along a linear step by step path to a known solution. This is not the case. If our students are to tackle real authentic problems and projects that do not have a known solution, and often do not even have a known problem, then we need to approach project based learning in a new way.

At the lab, inspired by the business model canvas, we’ve begun investigating how these projects might look. Our first step has been to create a project template in BuddyPress that individuals or groups can use to track their projects. We believe this not only leads to greater learning along the way, but the transparent nature of the tool, with every project visible, allows students to learn from and with each other. We’re about to begin some trials with this, if you are undertaking student projects and you’d like to trial with us, please get in touch.

For our iterative graphic organiser,  we currently using: Project Goal, What we know, What we need to find out, How we will find it out, What we have learnt. Down the track we’ll try other templates, again, I would be interested in hearing any ideas on this.

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