What happens if you put more than 700 university leaders, Ashoka fellows, students and entrepreneurs in one room for two and a half days? How can you arrive at concrete actionable insights in a massive conference like this? Well, can you?
From February 21-23, Ashoka U hosted one of the biggest changemaker conferences in sunny San Diego. It celebrated entrepreneurship, innovation and new concepts of learning that go beyond boundaries and borders.

Ashoka U Exchange goes beyond boundaries and borders

In times of increasing separation and the emphasis of national interests, the topic certainly reverberated. Especially with the conference’s location a mere 15 minutes away from the Mexican border. But universities have to go beyond boundaries as well in order to create sustainable change. Going beyond the given is part and parcel of changemaking. And maybe we need it now more than ever.

How do you design a MOOC that is engaging and successful?

In the session “Education of the Future! Designing Online Engagement for Maximum Impact” we had the pleasure to present the unique learning design of our MOOC “Enabling Entrepreneurs to Shape a Better World” goes beyond conventional MOOCs in that it really tries to make sense of the current media trends and make them part of an engaging online learning experience. This is especially because learning has radically changed through social media and the internet.
When asked what was the last thing learnt online, participant of the panel mentioned MOOCs they took. More interestingly, some participants also mentioned podcasts, or Youtube, as one student admitted “I learnt how to tell my friend I had a crush on her.”

Learn how to drive a car, or tell your friend you have a crush on her

Nowadays, you can basically learn EVERYTHING online. From how to drive a car to coding or entrepreneurship.

Image Youtube Learn How to


Given this plethora of knowledge, it becomes more important to think about HOW we learn. In our presentation of our Massive Open Online Course, we thought about how learning online has to look and feel like, given the mass of information we are confronted with everyday.

SEAri, our chatbot that guides learners through the course, makes stupid jokes or motives learners to keep going was a way to meet the challenges of online learning in the 21st century. If you haven’t met SEAri, we highly recommend to start our MOOC on edX!

SEAri chatbot

2 and a half days full of inspiration, networks and movements

What we took from this year’s Ashoka U Exchange? That there’s still a lot to do. But that if you get the right people into one room, this goal of making students more entrepreneurial and use this mindset for a better world, this isn’t a utopy in the far future. After two and a half days, you realize that mass of people at Ashoka U has become more like family. With people like Delaria Rupa, from Brac University, who never sits still, never stops questioning the status-quo. Or Araseli Lara, who is part of Ashoka, just graduated and still has all of the change-making opportunities of the world in front of her. People like Ali Fraenkel, Ashoka U Commons coordinator, who seems to run on an infinite amount of energy and infects all the people around her with that energy. Or Patrick Sewell, an alumni of our Global Entrepreneurship Summer School, whose university was certified as changemaker campus. To name but a few. So what happens, when you put all of these people into one room? You create a movement.