«Submitted to Ontario College of Art and Design University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design in Strategic ...»
The Maker movement is growing rapidly across the globe. FabLabs 102 and makerspaces are the natural and informal learning global environments at the intersection of cutting-edge technology, design and peer-to-peer learning and are relatively easy to set up.103 The exploratory, DIY approach to problem-solving and innovation makes the Maker movement an incredibly agile and dynamic catalyst for rapid ideation, experimentation and creation. The DIY ethos of making isn’t limited to creating physical objects; Makers are starting to reimagine the systems that surround them. And with potential to change work, production, governance, learning and well-being, Maker Culture and Design Thinking could certainly be a vehicle to solve our most pressing problems. And anecdotal evidence is mounting from schools’ design labs and makerspaces that students were becoming highly engaged learners. 104 How?
102 http://fab.cba.mit.edu/about/faq/ - Details about the global FabLab movement.
103 Hatch, M. (2014). The maker movement manifesto. McGraw-Hill Education.
104Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, Calif.: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press The course will have one theme to inculcate the maker mindset and a mirror course that will cater to the problem the student wants to solve. Here, students will discuss what makes a great prototype, the intricacies of pilots and Vuja De (Looking at what you have seen before, but differently).
Prototype products, services, systems, experiences, social experiments, brands and processes.
Some of the most essential real world skills that most students will benefit greatly from are ignored by higher education institutions. This course will look at addressing them.
Financial Literacy To be successful at business, you have to understand the underlying financial values of the business."
Most graduates lack basic financial literacy like keeping accounts, developing a budget or make savings for planning and contingencies. Then understanding advanced financial matters like crowdfunding and raising money.
Hustling 101 For effective networking, receiving mentorship to negotiating terms and closings deals, the right technique, the right mindset and the right etiquette is needed.
The Art of the Crit.
Teaching constructive evaluation, understanding and learning from heartpounding and eye-opening critique and rejection. Students also work beside investors to understand and evaluate companies with them.
Students pitch their idea to a panel of world-renowned entrepreneurs, hackers, designers, artists and experts and strike a potential deal. Either for funding a company, for a job or self-analysis.
‘Versioning Life’ There is so much insight from reflection that is not tapped enough. Here students continually ‘Version’ their development like a mobile application update. Enter everything they’ve gained and report the bugs they’ve picked up or fixed. This not only tracks the progress of the learning but also helps decipher what to work on and inculcates gratitude. This Versioning exercise turns into a gratitude journal that researchers believe positively affects health and well-being and success outcomes. Studies have also shown associations between gratitude and positive outcomes,105 correlation between gratitude and positive relationship106.
Action Learning: The ability to acquire competencies through reflection of one’s practice Students will talk about where they were when they started the Limitless journey, their journey of growth, where they were going next and why! When sharing these stories and insights from reflections, people gain confidence in their ability to deliver. This reflection is not so much to show their learning process and their insights but to show their progression. It’s their experiences, not someone else’s best practice.
McCullough, M., & Kimeldorf, M. (n.d.). An Adaptation for Altruism? Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://www.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/Papers/Gratitude_CDPS_2008.pdf 106McCullough, M., & Emmons, R. (2002, January 1). The Grateful Disposition: A Conceptual and Empirical Topography. Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/7McCullough-GratefulDisposition.pdf 107 Axis Flip (2014). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from http://www.stanford2025.com/axis-flip/ but what they can give to the world. What if the transcript displayed the skills, ideas and experiences that the students have built rather than the courses?
This approach generates a broader story of capabilities and potential of a person than transcripts ever did. And these could be rearranged and translated across a myriad of work contexts throughout their lifetimes.
The Halo supersedes the portfolio. It will highlight the student’s growth over time and development of key academic and life-skills, networks and experiences over the program, makes them measurable and validates them – substantiating to future investors, employers, clients and other stakeholders what the student can offer the world.
The industry-academia paradox is the condition where despite massive youth unemployment globally, employers are unable to find the right talent. Due to the lack of communication between the parties involved, there was an expectation mismatch of skills needed in the job market. The skills most desired include emotional intelligence, self-discovery and self-awareness, problem solving, leadership, teamwork, and empathy; surpluses of creativity, ingenuity and a mindset towards lifelong learning, not GPAs and quantitative skills offered by academia.
All this merely highlights the outdated intellectual framework of universities who have struggled to optimize itself for the modern world. With Massively Open Online Courses, escalating costs and cutting-edge new-age universities offering a glimpse of an enhanced avatar of what universities could be, these bring out ingredients needed to build a more sustainable evolution of higher education. To examine the ingredients, one must understand whom this solution could be optimized for. Because, while this crisis is indeed global, it particularly affects India, China, Africa, The Middle East and The United States which constitute 60% of the global population.
Therefore, the solution must be able to reach even fringe/marginal communities to truly make an impact. It must also be fused into their anchor behavior and the system it inhibits to reduce friction. This way, the solution would complement rather than collide with the existing system. And as each demographic has diverse set of challenges, it must be able to morph into the local context.
Next is to replace the unsustainable Siloed system that focuses on the highly specialized skills with trans-disciplinary or orbital thinking (intersection of disciplines) that foster creativity and innovation as the siloed approach is highly unsustainable because the complexity of the wicked problems we're facing are too labyrinthine for one skillset to handle. For this, the curriculum should be interdisciplinary, providing a systemic view of complexities and relationship between ideas, competencies and subject matter. In other words, designing for the intersection economy to deal with the transversal and intertwined nature of the problems we have today.
For education to be cutting edge, it must embrace technology and models bought forth by technology. One such, being ‘Unbundling’ where the unit of content are courses and not the degree, making courses more become modular, collaborative and iterative. This way, the degree would be a result of multiple combinations of courses from different universities and knowledge institutions customized to the needs and challenges of the community. It will also force professors to improve quality or be replaced. Unbundling could leverage MOOCs to scale and democratize higher education, but in order to ensure deeper learning, a blend of both on-screen and live learning is needed. This approach is called Blended Learning. We’re increasingly learning from the internet and other informal sources but it’s never tapped into. These display valuable insights and better patterns than transcripts. Therefore, transcripts must therefore evolve to display what the student can offer the world through courses, skills, ideas and experiences. This could be vital in the age where the shelf-life of the degree is shrinking, while obsolescence and academic inflation is on the rise.
As industry has pointed out, the focus needs to shift from Episteme (Know what) to Techne (know-how) and transformation literacy (translating knowledge into action approaches) for the workforce of tomorrow. Instilling the entrepreneurial mindset in students is key as it not only nurtures entrepreneurship, but also intrapreneurship and personal development as well. This way, it will enable students to not just acquire knowledge but also create new pathways. It must also instill the maker mindset -- a catalyst for rapid ideation, experimentation and creation. This should be supplemented with mentoring to bring in seasoned perspectives and to optimize the students' learning process while also amplifying their potential, competencies and impact.
The inability of the existing curricula and the system to address these needs and the clarity from the ingredients derived from trends and best practices prompted the idea of the Limitless Institute to take off from where the current system left.
The Limitless Institute, therefore is a learning ecology that is unfolding human potential towards societal change through immersive, integrative and highly modular higher education courses designed and built into the existing systems for maximum scalability.
The first piece is to address the needs of the masses by using television as a nonlinear evolution of MOOCs and lectures to democratize higher education and turning it into the canvas of the largest classroom in the world. This could be done by leveraging television’s massive distribution system and the negligible cost per user in the form of a Reality Show. Limitless Journey would map the journey of people undergoing intellectual transformation by providing provide resources, community, and education to participants of the show, thereby helping viewers engage better with academia, cultivate their ideas and build a repertoire of skills.
Why a reality show? Because reality shows tap into psychological needs through empathy using a condition called Common Humanity and inspire people through a condition called Upward Social Comparison and enables people to learn subconsciously in the guise of entertainment. This will be supplemented with local meet-ups called Collisions to bring a more blended environment and work experientially with the content delivered through the show. The Limitless model then turns into a freemium one to accommodate bigger appetites for learning through its Accelerants membership program where members gain access to resources, events, job opportunities and more. The Limitless freemium model tops off with the Human Accelerator, a full suite, all-access version focused on accelerating human potential. It will bring alternative credentials, one-on-one mentorship, and seed-investment to students while feeding into the next iteration of the show. The Human Accelerator will therefore be a modular, cutting-edge educational program built to be the epitome of everything Limitless stands for.
The entire model is be cyclical and both financially and socially sustainable to reinforce in into anti-fragility.
The Next Steps Limitless was conceptualized with the intention to be executed immediately.
Although the model is very much applicable in other geographies and environments, Limitless will be focused on India because of the massive market opportunity and the severe need neatly coming together as discussed in the Gaps, Needs and Market section earlier in the report. There, it will first approach implementation partners and institutional donors to fund the reality show.
Conversations will run in parallel with television producers and television channels.
Next, conversations will need to be had with non-profits, social enterprises, academia, industry, government and others to understand what’s needed from an Indian standpoint as multiple realities co-exist in cohesion and they need to be represented. The next round of conversations will have them pledge something to the show, ne in mentorship, social media mention, prize donation and other partnership or support opportunities. Limitless Journey + Collisions would start first while Accelerants would begin based on the reception of the show. The Human Accelerator is designed to work in harmony with the reality and also work independently and will run after conversations with the ecosystem.
As mentioned before, Limitless is designed to morph itself into various contexts and combinations and permeate into society. Consequently, it could manifest into several offshoots such as the Limitless Journey (Reality Show) and programs taking parts of the curriculum to train convicts. Entering prisons and helping promising convicts lead a new start is vital and companies such as The Last Mile (teaching convicts coding), Home Boy Industries and Defy Ventures are trying to reduce reincarceration and helping them transition into society better. This could even work for war veterans as well. Further primary and secondary research needs to be done in order to responsibly integrate and engage with these stakeholders.
Maybe we’ve just been chasing the wrong metrics all along. Maybe we need to connect dots than collect dots. Maybe we need to measure experiences instead of test-scores. Because it’s not just about content mastery anymore, but about putting deep knowledge along with basic skills into practice to address intractable realworld global problems. For those who have the most rigorously tested answers will not drive the future of learning; those who pursue the most meaningful questions will.108 Limitless Institute emerged from the inability of the existing curricula to better address the needs of its stakeholders, leaving a lot to be desired but never executed.