The popularity of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has begun to revolutionize the way people plan their education. Professor Tina Seelig, a Stanford professor and Executive Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, offered a 10-week open online course titled “A Crash Course on Creativity” through NovoEd (then known as Venture Lab). The course attracted tens of thousands of students around the globe to engage in hands-on assignments that would test their ability to be creative. The overall success of the course showcased how NovoEd’s online learning platform supports creativity.

Tina’s course was structured around weekly lectures followed by unique creativity challenges that were presented in the form of individual and group assignments. In the fourth week of the course, Tina’s lecture emphasized the importance of being able to connect unexpected people, places and objects, in order to generate fresh ideas through collaboration.

Tina’s lectures were of high-end production quality and were designed to briefly explain a new concept related to creativity, aimed at sparking active group discussions about applying the particular concept in the context of a real-world scenario. Tina encouraged her students to unleash their creative potential and supported their path to success.

Supporting Creativity on NovoEd’s Collaborative Platform

One of the reasons why NovoEd’s online learning platform supports creativity is because of the platform’s collaborative nature. The NovoEd platform uniquely offers the ability for students to view and post feedback about the submissions of their peers once the deadline for an assignment has passed. This feature allows students to be recognized by their peers for their hard work and to be rewarded for the risks that they take in being creative. I took the opportunity to use this feature to explore how students approached the unique challenges posed by each assignment. As the course progressed, I quickly noticed that a significant number students were drawn to the work of Sathyendra Nagulapali, a student from Hyderabad, India.

The individual class assignment corresponding to Tina’s lecture on connecting and combining was for students to use two household items of any kind in order to come up with a brand new sport. Sathyendra’s submission was an entertaining animated video tutorial on how to play his sport.

I had the chance to correspond with Sathyendra through the platform’s internal messaging system to hear his thoughts about taking a Venture Lab course.

“Apart from the lectures and assignments, I found the forums very helpful. The knowledge and experience gained by interacting with so many different cultures was on par with the knowledge and experience from the lectures and assignments,” he writes.

Indeed, being exposed to cognitively diverse peers results in better individual and/or team performance. Sathyendra finished a Bachelor’s Engineering degree in Electronics and Instrumentation; however, he mentions that it was only after getting an internet connection that he realized how much more he would like to learn.

In response to my question about his biggest takeaway from the 10-week course, Sathyendra writes:

“The most important piece of knowledge I gained from this course is that I’ve been waiting for assignments my whole life. My creativity tends to be in standby while I wait for Tina to give me another assignment so I could be creative. I realized that I don’t actually have to wait for an assignment, I can create one myself and start working. Tina can’t possibly be giving me assignments my whole life! So, I’ve really started looking for problems and projects myself, with a professional zeal.”

The NovoEd/Venture Lab team is grateful to have students like Sathyendra, whose quality contribution as a student adds to the quality of the experience for others.