How can we equip social entrepreneurs with the tools needed to succeed internationally in a time where travel is restricted? At Engage, we’re exploring new ways to educate during the pandemic.
By Marcus Stensland
The ISSA-project is an ERASMUS+ funded, international cooperative initiative to ease the transition for social entrepreneurs going international. Institutions from Norway, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus and Spain have worked together to create a learning platform that teaches important and core values for these social entrepreneurs wanting to move outside their own country. The platform offers a wide variety of courses to look into and complete, and with an exciting mix of educational methods. For instance, the participants take part in a virtual world, where they need to communicate with bots (virtual characters). These bots are designed to make the participants go through problem solving in coherence with the theme of the course.
- Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe.
- The 2021-2027 project has an estimated budget of €26.2 billion. This is nearly double the funding compared to its predecessor programme (2014-2020).
- The 2021-2027 programme places a strong focus on social inclusion, the green and digital transitions, and promoting young people’s participation in democratic life.
- It supports priorities and activities set out in the European Education Area, Digital Education Action Plan and the European Skills Agenda.
Combining strengths across borders
The ISSA-project is the result of previous collaborative efforts and the institutions having worked closely together for an extended period of time. The great thing about the collaboration of this project in particular, is that every institution is an expert in its own field. Simulation, testing, curriculum and dissemination are some of the main points of expertise. For example, the Norwegian representative NTNU is responsible for the learning content, while institutions in the other countries have developed the framework around it. This makes for a well-polished and soon to be released platform.
Torgeir Aadland is Co-Director at Engage and Associate Professor at NTNU. The focus of Torgeir’s PhD is on assessment of entrepreneurship education. In addition to this, he is also head of the ISSA-project. He is looking forward to the full-fledged version of the platform to be released.
“We’re planning on doing our final phase of testing this May and June. Social entrepreneurs will be testing out the platform for the first time. This is really exciting since we’re going to get external feedback on our project, and from a representative selection of people that are similar to our “real” users upon release.”Torgeir Aadland, Head of project, ISSA-Project
- The ISSA-project is a virtual learning platform aimed at social entrepreneurs.
- The platform revolves around four modules that participants can complete:
- Spotting opportunities
- Ability to identify social problems
- Research mobilization
- Cultural awareness
- Participants can choose which and how many modules they wish to complete, based on their already existing knowledge and needs.
- The platform aims to better equip social entrepreneurs when transitioning to an international scene.
- The project is FREE to use, and open for everyone who is interested. Being a student or affiliated with an institution is not required.
- The ISSA-project is launching this fall.
Balancing virtual and physical education
The ISSA-project is a great add-on and initiative for broadening the international competence of social entrepreneurs. The project is not only meant for students, but everyone who feels the need and has the interest for expanding their cross-cultural knowledge. In short, the project is ideal for anyone wanting to make a difference, whether it’s an aspiring student, or a well-established member of the workforce. This initiative is a great forward-thinking project, but Aadland emphasizes the pragmatic thinking behind it.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge the balance between the virtual and the physical. I don’t think the virtual platforms that are emerging will completely replace physical interactions and traditional learning platforms. However, to be able to obtain experiences in the virtual world, before doing it in the real world, will give the learners valuable insights and prepare them for their entrepreneurial activities. We will definitely see more virtual learning experiences in the future.”Torgeir Aadland, Head of project, ISSA-Project