In 2009, Banco Santander launched a new initiative, the Explorer program, through its Santander Universidades. Explorer is an international pre-seed program for university entrepreneurs aged 18-31 who are interested in developing their business ideas. The program is run by CISE (Centro Internacional Santander Emprendimiento).
The participants will enter a 12-week course where they are helped to develop their ideas and turn them into a solution that contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The aim is for these students to become actors of change through the building of economically sustainable projects in different industries, sectors and types of organisations.
So far, over 8,000 young adults with more than 5,700 projects have participated in the program. Explorer is estimated to reach up to 2,000 entrepreneurs in 2020-2021 around the world.
How to form an online community for students
Forming a community is a big part of Explorer’s teaching methodology. The intention is to develop ideas together. Being an international program, they also need to be able to reach students around the world.
To operate worldwide and to form a tight community might at first sound like two puzzle pieces that wouldn’t fit well together. Then again, with the right kind of partnerships almost anything possible.
Therefore, Explorer and Claned joined forces in October of 2020. According to Explorer’s Executive Director Patricia Araque, the reason was to offer students blended learning.
“Explorer is a mix of online training and community, both things are key to help students to achieve their goals. Claned makes possible the kind of social learning we need to promote peer to peer learning and at the same time helps us leverage the blended learning experience we deploy in partnership with the universities that are part of the program.”
The Claned online learning platform focuses heavily on social learning. Students are encouraged to cooperate and work together instead of isolating themselves, which sometimes happens with online learning. On Claned, Explorer students can post comments, share notes and start conversations about the topics or anything that comes to their minds. The experience is very much like using social media, allowing students to create a community. Because of the social media aspect, everything feels familiar from the get go and community-building starts to happen intuitively.
Using learning design to create engaging courses
Here at Claned, we specialize in designing effective courses. This means that we help our partners design online courses that follow the best pedagogical practices to deliver results. The platform itself already has many learning design elements that guide users to create effective courses. On top of that, we offer learning design as a service and really go through what high-quality online learning is.
So, we organized learning design workshops where we worked together with Explorer’s team to create a top-class online learning program. To give you a picture of what these workshops are like, here’s how things went down with Explorer.
What are learning design workshops like?
The team from Santander x Explorer approached our e-learning project with open minds, curiosity, and a desire to learn how to create the best program they could.
One of the biggest challenges in creating an online course is letting go of what you think you know. For people who are experts in their field this can be intimidating. The Explorer team recognized from the very beginning, that while they are experts in the field of entrepreneurship, they needed to learn about digital learning and how to best communicate and impart the wealth of knowledge they have to their learners. They approached each learning design and digital learning workshop as a learning opportunity for how to achieve this.
During the workshops we talked about key issues, like social learning. We gave the Explorer team ideas about how to encourage learners for more active participation by making their materials part of activating discussion assignments.
The team was enthusiastic and asked questions when they wanted to know more about a topic or were unclear about a concept. Based on the resources we provided them, they made plans and got organized, both about the overall structure of the program and its specific components.
We discussed ideas freely. People offered insights, suggestions, and elaborations to help fully realize the concept. These are things that make for successful learning in any program. In the end, designing quality learning is about collaboration, discussions and figuring out the best methods for each specific case.
Improving the program over time
Feedback from Explorer has been positive so far. They have gained useful insights into designing and executing modern online courses.
“We are more than happy. During these last weeks we dove into Claned’s features and worked with the team on the design of our learning path. This time has been mind-blowing. Now our approach to the design of learning experience is more social and more collaborative. That is going to have a huge positive impact on how the Explorers achieve their goals,” says Patricia Araque.
Even though the courses have now been designed, Explorer is not done yet. By using Claned’s data analytics, they plan to track, adapt, and modify the program. They will be able to see how well the program performs. Based on the information, they can then add, adjust, and replace content when needed, gaining insight into what types of activities and projects spark engagement and positive reactions among learners and identify where and when learners need additional support.
The Explorer program is shaping up to be a splendid example of how to use digital learning and Claned to its fullest potential. We cannot wait to see how they will fare in the future.
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