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«Submitted to Ontario College of Art and Design University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design in Strategic ...»

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When rethinking education, the size and the complexity of the problem could be overwhelming because it is viewed as a whole and not as parts and the Michalko, M. (n.d.). Creative Thinking Technique: Leonardo daVinci's Ideabox. Retrieved November 14, 2014, from https://creativethinking.net/Anne/DT08_DaVincisIdeabox.htm relationships between the parts that come together to form the system. If Da Vinci’s technique is applied to rethinking higher education, different variables and the combinations that emerge would generate multiple solutions/models customized to the situation, demographic, geographic, etc.

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“The power of storytelling is exactly this: to bridge the gaps where everything else has crumbled.”— Paulo Coelho Massively Open Online courses have shown their potential of being disruptive, by democratizing higher education, by questioning the relevance of higher education in its current form and proposing an alternative system of delivering quality education globally. But when looking at the practical realities on the ground, it hasn’t caused much of the disruption in emerging regions like South Asia, the MENA region and Sub-Saharan Africa due to the lack of infrastructure to support it. Countries like India for instance, has an internet penetration rate of 14%78 and the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa are not better off either. Finally, the 78India Internet Users. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2014, from http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/india/ intended audience - the youth, suffers from this deficiency as setting up the infrastructure may take up to a decade.

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having access to really good education but rather to cellphones and television according to a UN report. 80 As a tool to educate, a tool for change?

For thousands of years, storytelling is one of the most powerful mediums we have had. It’s been stories of people and things that have inspired us, educated us, formed religions and guided us since the dawn of time. The forms of storytelling have changed constantly but television has emerged as the most powerful of the modern day storytellers. It has broken barriers, transcended language, culture and geographical boundaries, ignited ambitions, built biases and carved pathways for billions globally.

As the world around us morphs at extraordinary speeds, this could be a powerful medium to bridge the education-employment divide and develop new skillsets 79No toilet in half of Indian homes. (2012, March 14). Retrieved November 16, 2014, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-17362837 80Deputy UN chief calls for urgent action to tackle global sanitation crisis. (2013, March 21).

Retrieved November 16, 2014, from http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44452&Cr=sanitation&Cr1=#.VGj1ffnF8qT that can constantly push, reorganize and reiterate efforts to inform and engage.

An opportunity presents itself here, as the only way to create change is not to change to situation but to influence the hearts and minds of people.

The most important skill to learn in this new era is the ability to create your own job. We live in a time where individual success will be tied to entrepreneurial skills and attitude and breakthroughs happen at the borders of necessity and possibility.

So, why not broadcast the essentials of higher education, the skills and mindsets needed for future entrepreneurs and employees to succeed in the uncertain future?

Could television help advance the entrepreneurial zeal?

As a tool to educate, television could be leveraged for its massive distribution system even penetrating to the fringe populations with ease turning it into the canvas of the largest classroom in the world. Imagine if a television show could provide resources, community, and education to help views engage better with academia, grow as humans, cultivate their ideas and build a repertoire of skills. And with this, could it usher in the emergence of a wildly dynamic, trans-disciplinary future?

Certainly! And the answer is the rapidly growing influence of unscripted television programming – Reality TV.

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needs - the need to feel connected to others, the need to feel good about ourselves, and the need to understand social dynamics. Witnessing others' experiences can also be comforting in that they remind viewers that they're not alone.81 This phenomenon is called Common Humanity 82 - the awareness that the ways in which we personally suffer are shared by other people. This feeling can also build empathy towards themselves, other people and situations.

Most importantly, viewers may also feel inspired by people who overcome obstacles and succeed in the end83 - upward social comparison gives us hope and motivates us to improve ourselves. This is common with transition based reality shows as they bring a juxtaposition of the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ picture making it more effective84 as viewers start to believe that this could happen to them too. And 81 Baumeister RF, & Leary MR (1995). The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological bulletin, 117 (3), 497-529 PMID: 7777651 82 Eisenberger NI, & Lieberman MD (2004). Why rejection hurts: a common neural alarm system for physical and social pain. Trends in cognitive sciences, 8 (7), 294-300 PMID: 15242688 83 Taylor, Shelley E; Lobel, Marci (1989). Social comparison activity under threat: Downward evaluation and upward contacts Psychological Review, 96(4), 569-575 DOI: 10.1037//0033X.96.4.569





Rose, R.L. Journal of Consumer Research, September 2005; vol 32:

Dornoff, S.E., Hinman, N.G., Koball, A.M., et al. Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio. Journal of Obesity, 2012 May;20(5):993-8.

Crockett, R.J., Pruzinsky, T., Persing, J.A. Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2007 Jul;120(1):316-24.

Most first-time plastic surgery patients were regular viewers of cosmetic surgery reality TV programs and said the shows had influenced their decision to undergo surgery.

not only do these shows inspire and give hope, but also paint a picture of what it would be like and how to get there. “This eventually helps them accomplish more or lead a healthier lifestyle”, says Mina Tsay, a communications professor at Boston University. 85 Finally, it could be more effective than lectures as researchers have pointed out that there is a lapse after 10 to 18 minutes of optimal focus no matter how good or compelling the subject matter was. Therefore, it could be an evolution of lectures in some way with a captivating storytelling component, educating viewers without them knowing it.86 But reality shows have had a terrible reputation of not being intellectually stimulating. So, building on from the effectiveness of transitionbased reality shows, how could a reality show display intellectual transformation over the course of the season?

If this is achieved, it could possibly turn the traditional industry model upsidedown. So, instead of broadcasting something inconsequential, the show could unearth the talents and interests of the youth, prepare them for the future, show them how to get to where they want to go, help them monetize their ideas and launch something as leaders that would inspire and unlock the potential their community. All of this without credentials playing a role.

85 Why We're Obsessed with Reality TV. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2014, from http://greatist.com/happiness/why-were-obsessed-reality-tv 86 Middendorf, J., & Kalish, A. (1996, January). The “change-up” in lectures. InNatl. Teach. Learn.

Forum (Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 1-5).

Johnstone, A. H., & Percival, F. (1976). Attention Breaks in Lectures.Education in chemistry, 13(2), 49But can a TV show perform the role of reaching millions of people in countries where the education system has pretty much broken down or is not addressing the students’ needs adequately?

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plastic recycler from Kandahar whose plant is powered by renewable energy, and the runner-up was a young woman who started a successful jam and pickling business employing hundreds of widows and refugees. Contestants ranged from ex-warlords to small-holder farmers to young female students. Viewers learned about access to finance, marketing strategy, business plan development, and more importantly — that they themselves can rebuild their country. The show turned the spotlight in Afghanistan to an alternative development paradigm — spreading the belief that it is Afghan entrepreneurs who will ultimately make the longlasting change their country needs. Bamyan Media launched another version of their show in Egypt last year called The Project or El Mashrou3.

"Fikr-Wa-Talash" – Reality T.V. meets social entrepreneurship. (ONLINE) (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2014, from http://www.global1.youth-leader.org/2012/12/fikr-wa-talash-reality-t-vmeets-social-entrepreneurship/ 88 Bamyan Media. (n.d.). (ONLINE) Retrieved November 25, 2014, from http://bamyan.org/ The Setting

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infrastructure to augment them by adding an education layer in them. This way, the show could be executed sustainably with minimal costs. The initiative would be a journey of entrepreneurs and change-makers travelling across terrains for a program. Examples of these are Unreasonable at Sea, Startup Bus, Ampion, Jagriti Yatra et al. Here a curated crowd of motivated people with mentors and sometimes investors drive around hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles across various terrains over a few weeks or months. Such programs have been picking up pace over the last few years but haven’t been tapped enough to broadcast and leverage these learning journeys.

Jagriti Yatra for instance, aims to target the youth of ‘Middle India’ (the proportion of the population who have their basic needs met but don’t have a sense of purpose). 47% of the enterprises that came out of the program started in small towns and villages from the 60% of the participants being from that region. A potential boost to curb the massive urban migration in India.

The Journey is a melting pot for ideas and a great setting for powerful storytelling and personal reflection that comes incomparably with travel. This is for the population at large broadcasting the curriculum through episodes. And because it is free and the cost per user is negligible, it will be able to democratize quality content to even remote and fringe populations. The journey would also take participants to locations and organizations, see how they run and how they’re improved or transformed over the show. These could be non-profits, service industries, neighbourhoods, etc. The model would be made financially sustainable through ad revenues, strategic partnerships and product placement, grants and merchandise.

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parts of the region. This will build a more intimate relationship with viewers and increase the popularity of the show and the accelerator itself. This results in a positive reinforcing loop or a circular model where variables are acting as feeders to each other.

Collisions could be officially, independently organized or could even be formed en-route during the reality show. Students who want much more out of their reality show experience could join the Collisions for free and trade insights, meet like-minded people to support each other or buddy-up to take on challenges, receive study material and resources (worksheets, toolkits, freebies, etc.) and work on projects to enhance their communities tying it back to the curriculum.

As for the participants of the reality show, they could meet and inspire, garner support and advice from the various communities, support their projects and form bonds with them that would transcend the show.

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mentorship after or without the program through a membership model. This is for students who are either looking for something more than a television show or meet-up or continual development after their accelerator program. The membership model offers students resources and study materials to dig deeper, group sessions to discuss and get peer support and trade skills, access to events and networking opportunities, information and access to better job opportunities and scholarships for further advancement. All this for an annual membership fee leading to a freemium model.

Stage 4: The Human Accelerator The final piece of the puzzle is the Human Accelerator, the climax and the pinnacle of the Limitless Institute. As stated earlier, each Accelerator is focused on building better equipped individuals to cope with future challenges and address the priorities of their communities. Hence each accelerator will have its curriculum and its approach customized to the local region. The accelerator will attract selected applicants who are looking for better exposure and mentorship than the Journey, Collision or the Accelerants model. Students will have access to alternative credentials, (The Halo), one-on-one mentorship, seedcapital/investment opportunities apart from resources, events and more. This is the top-tier of the freemium model accessible through a fee and some scholarships. Over time, the stories that manifest from the accelerator will feed into the next reality show season and vice versa, resulting in a cyclical model and a positive reinforcing loop.

The Human Accelerator designed to contain elements of all the design criteria (ingredients).

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Students who pass through the program who possess exceptional ability and congruence could sign up as mentors or accelerants over time feeding back into the system. For this, they not only gain community service certificates but also get their membership fee waived and are eligible for scholarships through a gamified reputation based currency.

The popularity of the reality show and Collision that are free models will market Accelerants and the Human Accelerator, the paid models. This will not only strengthen the freemium model but also feed into the next iteration of the reality show.

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89Wagner, T. (n.d.). Play, passion, purpose: Tony Wagner at TEDxNYED. Retrieved November 25, 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvDjh4l-VHo

Curriculum Map:



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