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ALEX-Anyones Learning Experience

Helping youth obtain incremental training to find a job by providing higher education on a piecemeal basis.

Photo of Alana Matos

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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

Our target audience is underserved youth, such as high school students who can't afford the cost of traditional 2 and 4 year institutions, or college dropouts. We want to create a marketplace where students can purchase individual courses tailored to the type of training they need to pursue their career. We want to put people in empty seats (online and in person), and in the process, lower the cost of these courses.

We want to help unemployed youth obtain incremental training to find a job. One million HS graduates each year seeking jobs choose not to go to college for financial reasons. We are making college more affordable by unbundling higher education.

HallPass will be an online marketplace where job seekers build a career by purchasing individual courses from across universities and vocational programs. We will connect them with empty seats in physical and online classrooms. Employers will sponsor classes as a recruiting tool to find talent and subsidize the cost to students, leveraging the interaction between higher ed institutions, companies, and students. 

Talent will control their learning by selecting courses that fit with their budget and schedule. They can earn micro-degrees and certifications on the way to obtaining a traditional degree. Employers will be able to recruit talent with specific skill sets. Schools will be able to monetize their excess capacity and increase access to more students.

Milestone 1: Form a Team
We are furthering our start-up team! We have Alana Mato's focused on design, myself focused on business development and Anabell Jimenez focused on development. Here is a link about the team formation. 

Medium Post

There are other volunteers that have helped out with connections to interviewing experts and social media marketing (secondary research).

Milestone 2: Hypothesis & Assumptions

Below are a list of target persona's, assumptions, and key risks we will be testing with our prototypes.

Target Personas (original set):
Launchers - Working individuals who have graduated from High School, chosen not to go onto college, and trying to launch a career
Accelerators - Working individuals with a college degree looking for incremental training for a promotion
Switchers - College graduates who need education in a different field to change career paths
Explorers - People who are curious and looking to learn something new in a different field

Hypotheses/Assumptions:
Career launchers would purchase (and would find valuable) classes one at a time to start and build a career
Accelerators would benefit from (and purchase) higher education classes in order to prepare and advance their careers 
Individuals that are looking to learn new skills and explore areas of interest will partake in (and purchase) higher education courses to do so

Assumptions:
People don't need a four year degree to advance or change their career

Lower income individuals without a college degree can launch and build a career
Middle income individuals don't have a good way of getting incremental education to advance in their careers (or do not see the value)

Risks:
Individuals will not purchase education or training services through us
Individuals will not use education or training services offered through us
Education providers will allow us to offer their product or services through us
Employers will not sponsor educational classes as recruiting tools

Milestone 3: User Interviews

We spoke to a 'Career Switcher' persona about her experience. Here is a post with an audio except of what we did and what we came away with.

User Interviews:

Sophie (career switcher)

Gus (entrepreneur)

We have redefined our hypothesis for switchers to:
Career switchers would purchase and find valuable classes [or programs] to accelerate the process of securing a job in a different field of interest

Milestone 4: Making Sense

See the user interviews! The links to the blog post with audio clips and insights from the interviews are above.

Milestone 5: Who are our users?

We have been iterating on who our users are and may be since we started prototyping. We will share more user interviews and insights that we have drawn from them, but in general they are starting to group into three areas (which may change): Accelerators, Switchers, and Explorers. 

We started focusing on using educational boundaries to create persona's (college drop outs, HS grads who did not go to college in the first place, college students, college graduates, graduate students, and graduate school graduates). 

We noticed when speaking to all of them (as our team started interviewing individuals across these categories) that there were people across all areas of education that spent time studying, reading, or taking classes on new subjects because they wanted to 'explore'. We grouped these into the Explorer category.

Next we identified those that are starting out and looking to launch a career (although they were already working and were trying to get on a path to move forward professionally) and we spoke to people in a job, but where going for a promotion. Each of these were different, but both had in common that they wanted to accelerate their career. We called them Accelerators.

The third persona we identified were those that did not want to move forward, but rather reinvent themselves all together. They wanted to either pick a new path utilizing where they had come from or start-over from square 1 in a different field. In one case the person wanted to try something completely different. We called these people 'Switchers'. 

For now the users are as follows, but as we learn more and reorganize they are subject to change.
Accelerators - Working individuals looking for incremental training for a promotion
Switchers - College graduates who need education in a different field to change career paths
Explorers - People who are curious and looking to learn something new in a different field

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

-Connections to colleges that are focused on getting more students to fill their seats -Programs that are focused on vocational training.

This idea emerged from

  • A student collaboration

Are you interested in the Path to Pitching track we've developed for this challenge?

  • Yes

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Photo of Sergio Marrero
Team

After this last interview... and a series of conversations with other individuals who have opted 'out of education' we are considering a slight pivot toward serving individuals that have not engaged in higher education (or dropped out) and want to start a business.
Here are the how 'how might we's' that will guide our focus:
How can might we provide more control and choice for aspiring entrepreneurs in their higher education?
How can might we provide them with access to the high quality learning they need to start and launch businesses?
What we have is positioned to do exactly this, but this provides a reinvigorated focus. We are also considering allowing other vocationally focused providers on the platform because of this focus, if they relate to entrepreneurship in some way.

https://medium.com/@sergiomarrero/improving-higher-education-for-entrepreneurs-a03b58a2bf1d#.wlrd2k84r

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