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Free online course fuels entrepreneurial thinking


Budding entrepreneurs across the globe looking to grow their ideas are being given the keys to a virtual shed where their entrepreneurial passion can bloom into reality.

Starting on 30 March and hosted on FutureLearn’s social learning platform, ‘The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen’ is Newcastle University’s latest free online course. Currently open for registration, the course is aimed at people who want to set up a social enterprise, initiate a community project, or start a new business venture. 

Available to anyone, anywhere in the world with an internet connection, the Enterprise Shed will offer four weeks packed with a range of interactive resources, including video tutorials, discussion sessions, and online meet-ups. 

Katie Wray, Lecturer in Enterprise at Newcastle University, is the Lead Educator. She explains: “This course provides inspiration for innovation. We’ll consider where ideas come from, help learners switch on their creativity and encourage them to think more - and do more - to problem solve in their world. 

“Movers and shakers display a common trait - they had an idea and did something about it. We hope that sharing ideas with one another will encourage learners to have more confidence to think and do more to create change and solve problems.”

The highly participatory course explores where ideas come from and how people can take steps to jump start their creative thinking and to make meaning of everyday problems.  

The team behind The Enterprise Shed is aiming to create a community for learners to share and discuss their ideas with like-minded people. The course aims to offer an approach to exploring entrepreneurial thinking not only in the business context, but also in the learner’s home, work, community or even their country. 

In one of the case studies that highlight the impact of entrepreneurial thinking outside the business realm,  winner of $1M TED prize Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University’ shares the problem-solving approach that underpinned his extraordinary vision to make the ‘School in the Cloud’ concept a reality. 

Filmmaker and Newcastle University alumnus, Jack Fisher offers his advice on building and growing a brand presence in the course. He said: “Courses like The Enterprise Shed are exactly what’s needed to help people connect with experienced entrepreneurs and share ideas with them. The advice and guidance from people who have succeeded in their ventures will go a long way towards helping learners find the confidence to do something with the ideas they already have.”

The Enterprise Shed features case studies of a number of entrepreneurs who have explored their ideas with help from Rise Up, Newcastle University’s Careers Service support programme for student and graduate entrepreneurs. 

Professor Suzanne Cholerton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Learning and Teaching at Newcastle University, said: “This course reflects our vision of a civic university and our commitment to deliver real impact to the communities we serve and society as a whole.   

“In The Enterprise Shed, learners will draw on our expertise in providing the best possible teaching for learning, as well the entrepreneurial support offered by Rise Up. This will enable them to develop skills that fuel life changing ideas, and experiences that inspire action.“

The Head of Content at FutureLearn, Nigel Smith, said: “Free, online learning provides the ideal solution for people who have the desire to learn yet lack the time and resources. We’re seeing more and more people taking courses on FutureLearn in order to improve their career prospects. 

“This exciting, new course from Newcastle University is the latest in our portfolio that allows people to gain business skills while learning in a supportive online environment with thousands of other like-minded people from around the world.”

The Enterprise Shed follows on the success of Newcastle University’s first two free online courses, about Hadrian’s Wall and preventing falls in older people, which have attracted over 23,000 people from over 100 countries around the world. And over 90% of learners were actively engaged with both of the courses. 

FutureLearn is a social learning platform, which offers free online courses from globally renowned UK and international universities, specialist education institutions and cultural bodies, including the British Council, British Library and British Museum.

Registration is free and is open now until the end of the course in April via FutureLearn

published on: 12 January 2015