Making a pitch for experiential learning

Students in the Bachelor of Applied Business Entrepreneurship - Sport and Recreation program are taking their education from the classroom to the playing field.

Joel Holland
Joel Holland says his work with the Calgary Vipers, via an MRU class project was a valuable way to apply his class room theory.

This year, students in the commercial recreation course took part in a project called the Vipers Challenge.

The challenge was intended for students to come up with creative ideas to increase ticket sales and improve community connections for the Vipers.

"This assignment was focused on giving students the opportunity to apply the theory gained in other classes to real-life industry projects," says Sarah Brown, instructor, Department of Physical Education.

And one student received more than tops marks for his winning project.

Better than a good grade

Joel Holland, a student in the Bachelor of Applied Business Entrepreneurship - Sport and Recreation program capitalized on the opportunity and approached Viper's President John Conrad to take his project to the next level. Holland gained a consulting position and implemented his project idea with the Vipers.

"The main idea was to help the Calgary Vipers bring more fans into the stands and help them to increase revenue and ticket sales, "says Holland.

"As the winning team [for the project], I wanted to put our idea into action. Instead of trying to get the customers to come to us, I wanted to get out into the community and bring the Vipers to the people."

Holland's project idea was to go to different festivals throughout Calgary to take brochures, merchandise and discounted tickets to get people interested and aware that Calgary has its own professional baseball team.

This was one of many interactive projects that give Mount Royal students the opportunity to learn more about the industry they will enter and get their hands on some real-life experience.

Calgary Vipers

Interactive learning

Leading up to the Vipers Challenge, students in the commercial recreation course had taken a variety of business and marketing courses that gave them fundamental skills for the project.

Mount Royal faculty, staff, students and alumni all worked together to create a valuable learning experience.

"Associate Professor Don Haidey from the Bissett School of Business helped prepare students for their business pitches and Alumnae Candice Goudie presented a guest lecture on the challenges of professional sports organizations," says Brown.

"Students had the opportunity to listen to a variety of local guest lecturers in the local commercial sport and recreation industry that informed them of the realities and challenges of commercial recreation," says Brown.

Many programs at Mount Royal promote engagement outside of the classroom such as Communication Studies, Eco Tourism and Outdoor Leadership, Criminal Justice and the list goes on.

"Through this real-life application, I realized what it takes to become a successful employee for any organization," says Holland. "Being involved in an organization through school work also helped me create connections throughout the community and gave me a practical application of my studies."

"This project is a great example of the type of collaborative and experiential education that Mount Royal does so well," says Brown. "It helps students build strong ties with the community and to gain the confidence that their education is preparing them for."

What next?

Due to the success of projects like this, students in next year's commercial recreation course can expect to take advantage of another great opportunity that will get them out into the community showing what their education has taught them.

For Holland, the opportunity helped him realize what it takes to be successful upon graduation.

"Mount Royal gives you the applied experience to be successful," says Holland. "Instead of just reading books and getting grades, your classes give you the opportunity to apply your studies and make connections throughout the duration of your program."

- Angela Sengaus, June 16, 2011