Advancing co-innovation through MOOC collaboration – a challenge or an opportunity?

Co-innovation across organizational boundaries is a powerful approach to tackle complex problems and renew organizations.

Published : 14.03.2020

With this in mind, we have created a massive open online course (MOOC) on corporate entrepreneurship and co-innovation with a diverse team of developers across Europe. The MOOC, Co-Innovation Journey for Startups and Corporates, gathers together corporates, startups and students. Collaboration is present at all levels: the topic, the team of developers and the learners solve team tasks in collaboration. In this blog post, we address the opportunities and challenges of a MOOC as a learning format to enable advancement of co-innovation across organizations.

Considering that the topic of the MOOC focuses on collaboration between startups and corporates, it stands for reason to co-create the course collaboratively with a network of higher education institutions, startups and corporates and to invite learners from the aforementioned parties as well. However, when working in a diverse multicultural team, there exists a variety of expectations and motivations. This may be due to having for example different kinds of expertise and levels of education. It is also sometimes challenging to build a culture of trust and openness and to reach a mutual understanding. This may be even harder when working virtually instead of face-to face. The decision-making process is often more time consuming and sometimes not very transparent. In addition, virtual teams often find it more challenging to brainstorm and co-create ideas. Maintaining drive within the team and actively taking initiative are the responsibilities of each team member. In reality, these are challenges that developers and learners come across with in the MOOC environment. Nonetheless, collaboration always comes with its opportunities.

The opportunities for learners and developers from such collaboration are manifold. First of all, by having experts with different perspectives on co-innovation come together provides a unique opportunity for learning and sharing ideas. By walking in the same shoes as the learners and uncovering the factors that make virtual teamwork fruitful, the developers may utilize that knowledge to build the MOOC in a way that it enhances collaboration among its learners. The best-case scenario, learners will connect in the platform and build actual startup-corporate networks that go beyond the participation in the course. Other opportunities are sharing resources and expertise, gaining new insights and forming international partnerships. Finally, learning is not restricted to time and physical space.

To sum up, we consider that MOOCs and virtual tools have potential to advance collaborative learning and co-innovation. Whether we like it or not, continuous learning in geographically dispersed teams is today’s reality. Therefore, there is no point in focusing on challenges, but rather how to tackle the challenges. As in any collaboration, trust is the key. Having developed a MOOC has given us the taste of learning experience that our MOOC participants will go through. Based on our experience the opportunities outweigh the challenges for both learners and developers.

Writers:

Anette Kairikko, Senior lecturer

Johanna Koskinen, Project coordinator

Maija Suonpää, Senior lecturer

Haaga-Helia has participated in a three year ERASMUS+ funded Corporate EDUpreneurship – Benefitting Startups, Universities and Corporates across Europe –project since the beginning of 2019.