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Combining online learning with global, digital collaborative projects / internships.

A platform that offers world-class online courses with compulsory projects for real-world companies allowing learners to apply their skills

Photo of Sharon DCosta

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My idea is an online platform that offers not MOOCs from the world's best universities along with compulsory short term projects with well-known companies - via remote digital collaboration.

Depending on the subject one is studying, the project would be more along the lines of research, brainstorming, suggesting innovative strategies, perhaps building an app.. or setting up a social media campaign for a new brand, etc. 

This will not only allow anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world to get a world-class education in field/s of their choice, but also –

  • Learn by doing. Build hands-on experience in the subject.
  • Gain valuable experience solving real business challenges for world-class companies. This is even more helpful for young people newly entering the workforce or people looking for a change in career path.
  • Collaborate with diverse sets of people from around the world and build valuable company contact and networks in their area of their interest. Break geographical barriers.
  • Added incentive to complete the course. Gain a certificate of experience from the company 
  • Earn while you learn. At least enough to cover the course enrollment / certification fee.
  • Companies gain fresh, diverse solutions to their business problems. Often, the 'students' might also be experienced professionals looking to build their skills or make a career change, etc.

So it is a kind of win-win situation for the company and the learner.

Inspiration - I'm a regular MOOC-taker, and I've personally participated in a few online collaborations - including -

  1.  A crowd-vetting collaboration for +Acumen, involving due diligence for a social enterprise, with >200 people around the world, including entrepreneurs,students, executives, academicians, even VCs.
  2. The Center for Global Enterprise has regular digital collaboration opportunities for everyone - E.g. "Devise a strategy to help the NFL expand its international fan base through its Game Pass digital product.” 20+ participants from around the world conduct research, brainstorm strategies and create a combined report of their work to share with the company. ---No expertise or training is required, but the learning from this would be very relevant to a student of International Marketing, for instance. 
  3. OpenIDEO – what we’re doing right here – except that it would involve actually putting the ideas to action, prototyping, etc - officially, on behalf of  
  4. A team marketing competition in uni for Nissan that involved creating a viral ad campaign on social media for one of their new car models.
  5. UPDATE: (Kate Rushton shared some excellent links in the comments, to creative crowdsourcing websites like eYeka, Jovoto, etc. where companies post challenges that anyone can participate in. )

My idea is based on the assumption that people might be more likely to pursue the course seriously if it were linked to a tangible incentive at the end.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

Fresh graduates with no work-experience who are about to enter the job-market. Professionals looking for a change of career path. Lifelong learners looking to collaborate and expand their skills and networks.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Experiences with online learning and digital collaborations. Building an online learning platform.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I would like to start by experimenting with college students or fresh graduates or job-seekers. I know several people who are interested in learning digital marketing, for which 'learning by doing' is crucial. I would start by referring them to a MOOC, followed by the opportunity for a 'gig', managing digital marketing for a local startup or small business, and observe the results.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am an entrepreneur, marketer, designer & social entrepreneurship enthusiast. I recently founded a marketing company that works exclusively with startups and small businesses. I have an academic background in business design and psychology.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mary Ressler

I like the idea of collaborative efforts to solve world issues. This could even be facilitated in the middle and high school curriculum of the United States! I am going to embed this idea in “Education Speedway” as well. I will link your website, etc. Thank You!

Photo of Sharon DCosta

Thanks very much, Mary.
Apologies. I've been away, so I missed your response, and only just saw it. How has your project been going? I wish you all the best. :)

Photo of Mary Ressler

Good Evening.

Thank you for your message. Literacy Speedway now has 100-500 users on Google Play and hasnt been marketed. It is part of the Barbara Bush XPrize for Adult Literacy and someone wanted to buy it. It is going well for about six weeks up and running. Artificial Intelligence is being added to it and other APPs will enhance it, once feedback and pilot is done this spring. Thank You! Mary Ressler

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