There is a well-known Aesop’s fable called “The Father and His Sons” in which a father gives each of his sons a bundle of sticks and asks them to break the bundles in half. None of the sons are able to do so and resort to breaking one stick at a time. He then says that like the sticks, if they work together, they will be unbreakable, but if they do not work as one unit, they will be easily be broken individually. This story came into my mind as iversity finished up its 2-day intensive all-team workshop in the beautiful Spreewald near Berlin. It was a time to get together as a team and find out how to make iversity.org even better. Workshops aren’t easy and require focus and putting yourself and your thoughts out on the table, but they allow you to dive deep into a subject as a team as a whole and come out stronger as a unit.
Here are a few important learnings that we wanted to share with you:
1. Never forget the learner’s experience
To better understand the someone else’s experience, it helps to step into their shoes. Our team consists of MOOC experts but it can be easy to forget the online learner’s perspective when you are submerged in day-to-day tasks at the office. This is why we did an exercise called the customer journey. Ok, so you discovered iversity while surfing the web. You signed up and now you are browsing courses. You found a great course and enrolled. When will the course start? When are exams? Will you get a certificate? By imagining that we were online learners taking a MOOC on our platform, we were able to see what they may experience from enrolment to course completion. Moreover, as an open platform that attracts learners across the globe, we also had to think about the myriad needs that come from such a diverse online learning community. We encountered all sorts of possible frustrations, exciting discoveries and particular expectations. This helped us focus on how exactly to improve the user experience and we look forward to passing this along to you!
2. It’s a long road to the platform
It can be nice being a professor for a moment. You get to add a “Dr.” or “PhD” to your name and dream about all of the books you have published. Just as for the online learner, we imagined being an instructor to better understand the journey from their perspective. Indeed, it is a long road from wanting to make a MOOC to seeing your finished course on the platform. MOOC instructors often have a full-time job at the university, planning and production require a lot of time, financing and hands on deck, and online teaching in general is still very much uncharted territory. iversity seeks to make top-quality courses with top-quality instructors, and this requires supporting the instructors well along the way. This exercise helped us find out where complicated hurdles and the great opportunities lie, and find ways to improve the instructor journey to the platform.
3. Working as a team for the same cause
iversity is comprised of several teams that do many different things. In the workshop, we also had the chance to see what others are doing from beyond the confines of our own desk. We are all in this together, working for the same cause: building the best online learning platform. But it can sometimes feel like you are alone in the fight. When you step back and look at the big picture, you can see that everyone is an invaluable part of the puzzle, discover the many ways we can support each other and figure out where this young start-up can improve. We all must continue working as one unit to keep improving online education, and that requires recognising each other’s value and seeing how we can help each other grow.
Besides the Team Workshop, it was a great opportunity for us to meet outside of the four white office walls and spend some time together. The laughs we shared soon reminded us of how fun and interesting we all are, if we ever had the chance to forget. We shared the pains of mosquito bites, enjoyed some night swimming and danced by the bonfire. The whole iversitarian community was with us and we thank you all for being a part of our mission in developing great open online education! It takes both our team and our community to make us an unbreakable bundle.
Want to join the iversity team? Have a look at our jobs page and see if something fits you!