An idea for social enterprise and education

In a continuing push to come up with ideas I’ve been reading and thinking about socail enterprise and how that can be brought into an online company.

My day job is in the University sector and of late there has been a push towards open source educational resources as a way to allow people to study in a flexible way, maintain their skills and importantly open up education to people from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.  It can also be a platform to educationally disadvantaged people back into study or into study for the first time.

Anyone who has studied, particularly external education realises that self directed education is difficult and finding help through an open source environment can be difficult.  The idea would be to offer help on courses offered through open source environments like Wikieducator or OpenCourseware.

The help environment would have to be online, free and open for all to view.  The idea would be a pluralist viewpoint of social enterprise with a many-to-many relationship.  We would have to have topic experts available to help on subject matter or, an alternative (better?) solution would be to have facilitators available to teach people how to find information that would help them through the course.  All advice given would be freely available online and archived to be referred to later on.  

This project would rely on help that is freely available, like that which made Wikipedia so successful, expert advice on learning and topic areas which could be sourced from education providers that publish open courses and technical experts to ensure that the systems don’t fall over and allow continual innovation.  

Such a project would require a large sum of startup funding to get the systems online, to establish relationships with education providers and the organisations that host open education and to reach those studying – particularly the open courses.  This could be achieved via government grants, grants from other philanthropic schemes, partnerships with education providers and other private means.

Any platform that it is published on would have to be able to be viewed on old equipment with slow and unreliable internet connections.  Ideally the materials could be taken away to be viewed offline.

The value behind this idea is to encourage people to continue to improve their skills.  There would be an articulation possibility for education providers that are commercially operated (via private or public funding) and may also provide a case for the success of free and open educational resources.

For more info, visit – http://wikieducator.org/Main_Page
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course

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