FRAMEWORK : Social Mission

Will Platforms Transform Education?

If you’ve used an iPhone, Googled, shopped on Amazon, or scrolled family news on Facebook in the last half hour, you know that “digital platforms have transformed the way we live, work, travel and learn.”

Tom Vander Ark, CEO and Partner at Getting Smart, a learning design firm, explores the new book Platform Revolution and the question, “Will Platforms Transform Education?”

The secret to how platforms efficiently scale and unlock value is network effects. Platforms promote exchanges and the Platform Revolution authors explain that “in every exchange the producer and the consumer exchange three things: information, goods/services and some form of currency.”

“ ‘Network effects turn organizations inside out,’ meaning users run the place,” Vander Ark observes.

Is education different? Can platforms transform education?

The transference of education to technology-based platforms comes with a set of efficiencies but it also comes with a number of challenges.

Just like the human and technological components of data analytics, there’s a vital human element to education. How can a platform provide the balance needed between individualized learning and learning as a community?

The learning process is so often fueled by expertise coming from educators who specialize in human-based classroom experiences that I can’t see platforms alone transforming education.

What this thoughtful and stimulating article does well is open a very important discussion – and prompts the valuable notion to think more broadly.

FRAMEWORK : Social Mission

What Is the Huge Problem You Are Solving and What Does Success Look Like?

What’s most important when raising capital for a social enterprise: vision or revenue model?

In her article, (Social) Mission Accomplished: 6 Female Founders on Raising Capital with a Triple Bottom Line,” Teresa Bigelow uses conversations with six women at two conferences – one in New York, the other in Cape Town – to examine the question. Many of her conversations “circled back to the triple bottom line, which is defined by a company’s dedication to people, planet and profit.”

Even though I see contributor Tinia Pana’s point to “announce how you plan to make money and you’ll receive more attention,” I fall into the “Vision First” camp.

First, you need to have a vision that’s rooted in a purpose. Next, you need to have a passion; these six women all talk about how their work is rooted in a particular passion. Finally, you need to translate your vision and passion into a purpose-driven model or sustainable opportunity. The realization of your purpose creates the impact on people and the planet – and creates profit.

FRAMEWORK : Social Mission

Will the Third Industrial Revolution Nurture Socially Responsible Global Businesses?

In the Huffington Post article, “A Flat World Creates Social Business and Education Imperatives,” Robert Johnson links Muhammed Yunis’ Nobel Peace Prize-winning Grameen Bank with Thomas Friedman’s theory of a Third Industrial Revolution to formulate a new model of the socially responsible global business.

Yunis created “a way to make small, uncollateralized loans available to unlikely entrepreneurs – women in remote villages and rural communities” in Bangladesh. Since 1983, Grameen Bank has loaned over eight billion dollars to millions of women at a repayment rate of more than 96 percent.

Even with successes like Grameen Bank, the role of business is still questioned. Is business the “root cause of or a contributor to” social ills and problems, or is business a “provider of solutions?”

 “What if we expected business – the only organizational form that creates resources or financial capital – to focus and prioritize profitable solution-finding?” Johnson asks.

Read this fascinating, forward-looking article for a glimpse at what business could be in the near future.