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WorkEd - Creating Value through Learning

What if youth didn't solve hypothetical problems in school, but instead found solutions to actual challenges faced by organizations and society? WorkEd proposes a process to do just that. Organizations would submit their problems, challenges, or goals to youth who would then come up with proposed solutions that would be fed back to the organization for potential implementation.

Photo of Cordell Wesselink
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This could start out as an extra credit or supplementary program to more traditional educational systems.  Eventually, it could turn into a primary learning mode, however.  Here's the basic process envisioned:
  1. An organization submits a problem, challenge, or goal to a school or class.
  2. The educators at the school breakout the learning categories embedded in the submission (math, programming, marketing, human resources, etc.) to help direct students' efforts and learning.
  3. Students would self-select the submissions that they wanted to work on and even create their own work teams (or teams can be assigned by faculty advisors).
  4. With the help of faculty advisors, student teams work on solving the submission.
  5. Final student proposals are reviewed by faculty advisors and submitted back to the originating organization.
  6. If a proposal is deemed viable by the organization, they would meet with the student team to further refine their proposal.
  7. If a company uses the proposal, they would reword the student team either financially, with educational credit, or some other benefit to the students and possibly their school as well.

The process would be highly beneficial for youth, schools, and participating organizations.

However, there are many questions.  Would a process like this disrupt the culture of the organization and be difficult to implement?  How would regular employees feel about having student teams solving their problems?  What organizations would be interested in implementing this as a pilot program, and how would they do so?

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

Youth benefit from: 1. enhanced learning through hands-on problem solving; 2. heightened awareness of organizations and the challenges they face; 3. ability to network with professionals in the field; and 4. monetary, educational, and other rewords from creating successful proposals. The youth would be 18 and up. The organizations benefit from: 1. a more diverse pool of people to help solve their problems; 2. increased visibility of their organization and brand; 3. greater pool of potential employees to draw from who have direct experience solving the types of problems they face; and 4. new and innovating solutions to their problems. This would probably entail large organizations and corporations at first, however smaller non-profits who could benefit from the extra brainpower could also be involved at some point.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

WorkEd turns learning into productivity and productivity into learning. It jump starts careers for youth, giving them real life practice solving problems they will face later in life, while also using that practice to help organizations solve the problems that they're facing. It would encourage organizations to invest in and collaborate more closely with educational systems.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

This is just the beginning of an idea, so I am open to any and all suggestions. Please take this idea and run with it!

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • I'm more throwing the idea out there to inspire potential implementers


Join the conversation:

Photo of Meena Kadri

Exciting stuff, Cordell. We'd love to hear more about your thoughts on a lightweight experiment for this fab idea – to test assumptions and learn from putting real end users in the picture. Here's some tips: – and you can outline potential experiments in our submission form questions on lightweight experiments (hit the Update Entry button up there on the right to fill that out) Even better – give your experiment a go and share back what you learn!

Photo of Meena Kadri

And given our OpenIDEO fondness for collaboration – you might also like to join in conversations here: