Designing a program & curriculum to help people apply their skills to real world problems.
Ycenter is a global experiential learning organization, that helps people learn creative problem solving, by applying their skills to real world contexts. As co-founder and Director of Programs, one of my primary responsibilities was to design, implement and refine over a period of time, our experiential learning program.
About the program
In our post-industrial revolution model of education (one that is still the most widely prevalent one) students spend anywhere between 10 – 16 years learning skills through various levels of educational institutions. Yet when it comes to apply these skills in the world outside classrooms, they falter. Ask an engineer to repair a broken generator in rural Mozambique, and 9 out of 10 times the engineer won’t know how. Our experiential learning program aimed to bridge that gap. We believed that human beings naturally learn by doing, putting us squarely in the shadow of great thinkers such as Dewey, Piaget, & Gandhi.
Using our background in Engineering, Business & Human centered Design, we created an experiential learning pedagogy, which allowed people to apply their skills to real world issues. The program began initially as creating a framework – a project site, a problem to solve, and connections on the ground, which allowed students from various disciplines to contribute to the project, or create their own. We also realized the usefulness of applying this pedagogy to creation of ideas & solutions, linking it to the world of entrepreneurship & social innovation. The pedagogy itself was designed by mixing elements of Human Centered Design, Social sciences, Business, & Systems thinking.
Our program has been identified as one of the programs of distinction for its “Leadership and Experiential Learning activities” that should be benchmarked and evaluated to deliver on the promise of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in a Caux roundtable report
As the Head of Learning, I was primarily responsible for the design, implementation & refinement of all our programs. We created a framework for creative problem solving, that had applications in a wide variety of fields – it can be used for capacity development by organizations, creating projects to solve wicked problems by students & universities, or to create innovations in particular fields by governments & aid agencies.
For each of these applications, there was an entire cycle of business development, program design, project management & execution that I had to lead. My work entailed – working with a client to understand their specific need, designing the program as per the specific requirements, and working with the client to implement and evaluate the program in their context.