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The topic of entrepreneurship is an epic opportunity for MOOCs (massive open online courses). This was my first thought when I heard about the Global Entrepreneurship Summer School (GESS) MOOC on openSAP, entitled “Enabling Entrepreneurs to Shape a Better World.” It’s the ultimate exercise in creativity -- bringing together super-motivated people across international and disciplinary borders in a virtual environment to iterate on dreams that make their collective hearts beat faster. I reached out to a few of the instructors who shared their perspectives on how digital transformation is reshaping entrepreneurship.

Understanding the life cycle

Nick Allardice, Vice President of Global Campaigns for, sees a groundbreaking role for entrepreneurs as advanced technologies accelerate the pace of commerce and how people engage around social issues.

“At no other point in human history could you have a business, a product or an app within hours or days reaching billions of people,” he said. “At the same time, there is a historically high level of dissatisfaction with the status quo. Entrepreneurs have a unique chance to fill some of the gaps in a way never before possible, helping shape society and having an impact on the global stage.”

Participants in Allardice’s sessions will learn how to create content “that cuts through the busy communication landscape, and motivates people to make decisions on a regular basis,” he said.

Rely on partnerships

Ding Li, Vice President of Non-Profit Incubator (NPI), will share five steps entrepreneurs can take to get started on a social venture that contributes to society.

“The role of social entrepreneurship is under-estimated in the world today. We need to change our mindset about the complex issues facing us today, whether it’s economic uncertainty, technology advancements or environmental concerns,” she said. “We can combine the knowledge and experience we have to help society deal with urgent challenges, turning them into opportunities for greater collaboration between government agencies, the private sector and social entrepreneurs.”

Don’t start with ideas

Klaus Sailer is a professor at the Munich University of Applied Sciences, CEO of the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (SCE) and co-founder and board member of the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie. He said successful entrepreneurs combine an entrepreneurial mindset with management thinking.

“It’s important not to start with ideas,” he said. “It’s more important to be inspired by a vision of what a better world would look like. Entrepreneurship is a dynamic, chaotic innovation process. Entrepreneurs learn to live with uncertainty as they forge ahead working on a transformation process making adjustments along the way to achieve targeted goals. We want to empower people with the tools to help them identify and understand a problem, co-create a solution with international teams, and develop a concrete business model to change society.” 

Participants in this MOOC can also apply to join a special track to develop solutions for one of today’s hottest issues -- migration in China, Europe and Latin America. These learners will form virtual teams where they’ll receive additional intensive coaching to build out their ideas, including the creation of a pitch video and business plan. They will also have the chance to enter a business model competition. Looking at the line-up of experts teaching this course I’m more convinced than ever MOOCs are among the most fascinating ways to make change happen learn in this next digital era.

Follow me @smgaler

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