WDI, Ford Fund Partner for Virtual Training to Aspiring Social Entrepreneurs
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
How does an educator convene a global classroom across a dozen countries, numerous cultures and differing perspectives? Sometimes, it’s better to instead let the students set the pace.
WDI’s Education Sector team recently tailored two fully online courses for The Ford Motor Company Fund as part of the Ford Community Impact Fellows Training program. Students accepted into the program work together to advance understanding and new thinking around topics such as innovation and entrepreneurship.
The courses were tailored to the students’ needs by key personnel at WDI’s Global Virtual Learning Center (GVLC), which was established to advance the field to create international linkages and promote economic growth in emerging markets. Students hailed from a dozen countries including Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco and Sierra Leone.
“In this day and age, we all need to be continuous learners,” said Amy Gillett, vice president of the Education sector. “In a time when it’s difficult or impossible to bring people together face to face, this format is really effective and it also sets students up for making long-term connections with one another.”
The two fully online courses include one module on developing leadership qualities and a second on improving interpersonal communication skills. About 130 students participated in the leadership module, offered for seven weeks ending April 11, and 179 students are taking part in the five-week communications module, set to end July 12. The leadership course helped participants understand themselves as leaders on both personal and team levels, and drew on the Michigan Model of Leadership. The communications course emphasized cross-cultural communication, managing emotions and interpreting body language across different nationalities and traditions.
WDI produced the content for the courses, which were hosted on the ExtendEd portal – the Institute’s proprietary learning management system. Students viewed a series of instructional videos on ExtendEd, followed by quizzes to check for comprehension. Students were assigned to teams across countries to work on a project together and practice their new leadership skills.
While the students were from many different countries, pursuing a wide variety of degrees and occupations – from business to medicine – a well-designed online learning environment was a perfect vehicle for bringing them together.
“It’s an efficient way to reach people with targeted training, and it’s the way people prefer to learn,” said Gillett. “They want to learn when they have time to learn, even if it’s in 15-minute increments. Students log in at their own pace, learn at their own pace, and take the modules on any device.”
The course is a perfect example of a small private online community – or SPOC – which is designed to nurture an intimate learning environment where students can interact and get to know one another other.
At the conclusion of the modules, WDI hosts a live webinar to summarize the learning. This is followed by sending participants a series of reminders on what they learned in the course. Such reminders — “Memory Pings” — also prompt them to apply what they learn in the course back on the job.
“It’s vitally important to provide opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders to share new ideas and brainstorm sustainable solutions to make people’s lives better,” said Farah Harb, Global Education Programs Analyst, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Learning and leadership are essential as we navigate and adapt to our constantly changing world.”
Many students found the WDI courses very valuable.
“Giving back to society and creating positive (impact) has always been my passion. In the world, there are so many challenges facing us,” … to fix these problems, the world needs great leaders with great leadership skills and this course has shown me surely that great leaders can be created or trained,“ wrote one student of the Leadership workshop.
Another student noted: “This workshop has been an eye opener and I am certain I am ready to work in every environment.”
As a final assignment, the students submitted videos exploring cross-cultural learning and how to apply that knowledge to real-world scenarios. The finalists for the contest and their video stories, can be found below: