Introducing the Suits & Sneakers Online University!

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Suits & Sneakers is an Edutech startup that is building its own online university. We have finally released a beta version and we’d like to tell you more about it!

This online university is something that we have been dreaming about building for the last three years but we only started to generate enough profit to be able develop the system from November 2017. Up until today, we have bootstrapped every cent toward this project with no external funding. As I mentioned, we are still in beta phase and the idea is to get as many people using the system so that we fast-track its progression.

Building a system like this from scratch is no easy task but we have a really strong WHY! I personally started Suits & Sneakers in July 2015 because I wanted to help modernise learning for people of all ages. Our current system is broken and I don’t see government institutions fixing them because they seem to be out of touch with what they future will look like. There is a definite gap to fix learning and although it’s not a simple task, we’re up for the challenge.

But more than anything, we want to leave a lasting legacy. Our goal is to use any profits generated from the capitalist side of our business mentioned above to build a reimagined schooling system that could eventually offer quality education to young people around the world AT NO COST! We believe that quality education is the great equaliser and this is how Suits & Sneakers wants to change the world.

WHY DID WE BUILD THIS ONLINE UNIVERSITY?

Suits & Sneakers was founded on the belief that the current education system is starting to become less effective. We’re not saying that going to school is bad or getting a degree is silly but we are saying that it is no longer enough nor is it the most efficient way of learning. And I’m not just referring to young people. Adult learning is more stale than ever which makes no sense because we are the drivers of economic growth for the future.

You must understand that the world is changing at breakneck speed. As a result, what you learn today isn’t necessarily relevant in a year or two. And because we seem to have this obsession with accreditation, the stuff we’re learning had to go through all sorts of processes before it was “approved” by some association which means by the time we start to study, that information is fairly outdated. Also, human beings are social and emotional creatures and the current system doesn’t really play to this tune which is why most people look at education as a bit of a grudge purchase more than anything. By the way, that grudge purchase is becoming more expensive than ever.

That said, homo sapiens started to do something absolutely incredible at the beginning of the 21st century: We built platforms like Google, YouTube and Wikipedia and started to digitise and democratise all of the world’s information and place it online for everyone to access.

This means that peer-to-peer learning (which is how all forms of learning started in the first place) has made an incredible comeback and we can now learn about anything we want in an informal manner, at almost no cost, and the information gains immense accuracy when enough people come together to verify the content.

Ultimately, the term “education” needs to be redefined. We need to see the act of educating ourselves as the act of refining our current skills while gaining new skills that will both allow us to be relevant in the future. When you look at it that way, every human being at every age needs to be educating themselves every single day!

BEFORE WE GET INTO IT ALL…

It’s important to note that we believe that education needs to be a blend of face-to-face learning and online learning. Both have their strengths and weaknesses but when you combine them, you have an incredible system that plays to our social and emotional needs while scaling at the same time.

This is why we have created a membership program that provides access to face-to-face events and our online university. We also recently launched our corporate membership program and we already have a few sign-ups. We would love to chat to more companies about this kind of offering as this is how we fund our entire project. You can email us on info@suitsandsneakers.co.za for more info!

SO HOW DOES THE ONLINE UNIVERSITY WORK?

The question we got asked the most is what kind of content we have sitting on our university at the moment! To answer that, I need to explain our two-pronged strategy toward delivering quality content:

IMAGINE THAT WE ARE LIKE A COMBINATION OF YOUTUBE AND NETFLIX
We believe that there is such amazing content online that we have no need to replicate all of it. If you consider how vast YouTube is and what you can learn on there, it just makes sense to incorporate existing content but in a more structured way. In other words, we curate the best informal education across a variety of categories on YouTube and stream it through our system. This allows us to have a world of content immediately available to the masses.

We also see ourselves like Netflix in that we are starting to build a library of original Suits & Sneakers content (visit our YouTube channel for a glimpse of what we’ve done so far). This includes recordings of our events and privately recorded interviews with thought leaders. Our library is tiny right now but as we grow, so will our ability to generate more original quality content.

OUR GOAL IS TO REIGNITE THE SOCIAL ELEMENT OF LEARNING
The way we’re doing this is by allowing users on our platform to follow other users just like they do on various social media platforms. From there, users can follow what other users are learning on a daily basis.

If you consider that often times, you check your Facebook newsfeed not specifically looking for a great article or video but it comes your way because someone you know has shared it. In other words, we think that if people can share their learning journeys with each other, they will be far more interested in learning something new everyday.

ALL LEARNING IS RECORDED AND GAMIFIED
One of the current downsides to informal education is that there’s no way to really track what you’ve learned but this is something we’re trying to change. Every time you watch a video, read an article or listen to a podcast through our system, it will all be tracked and recorded. At a later point, we want to create a score board for learning and ultimately reward people who learn more (think of us as Discovery Vitality of education).

HOW DO I ACCESS THE ONLINE UNIVERSITY?

To access the university, simply navigate to http://suitsandsneakers.university.

Once on the site, you will need to register an account. This can be done by either linking your Facebook account or by selecting the sign-up button and filling in a few details.

Once you have registered, you will be asked to choose the topic areas that interest you. These areas will be updated in future, and when new topic areas are released, you will be asked to choose any of the topics that you wish to follow. After selecting your topics, you will be able to start accessing the content. Be sure to update your profile page, and also to check out the pathways assigned to your profile.

Whilst testing, you can use the help desk (select your profile picture and choose the helpdesk option) to send us feedback, report bugs or get assistance with the platform.

Our vision for the University is to create an accessible platform for the masses that will disrupt the way we see and access education. To do this, we need YOU, as your insights and experience will be invaluable to us. We have enabled the Airbrn Game engine in the background of the site, and will be tracking your movements on the platform as well as what you do. This data will be used to reward you with points and badges that in turn could get you an extended membership on the platform, access to events for free and possibly a seat on the online university faculty board at Suits & Sneakers where you will be voting for new features, sharing ideas and advising on the future direction of our platform.

THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING!

Our system is constantly being developed and iterated which means that as a user, you are still the test. But here’s one thing we can promise, we will NEVER stop until we see this vision of change come to fruition!

If any part of this article has resonated with you and you want to help us in any way, please send us an email here!

PS. HERE IS THE ROADMAP FOR OUR ONLINE UNIVERSITY!

Version 0.1 beta – January 2018
* Base Platform developed and setup

Version 0.2 beta – Early March 2018
* More authentication option
* Administrative control for contentVersion

Version 0.3 beta – Mid March 2018
* Member Section
* Member Profiles
* Ability to upload and share content
* Live event engagement

Version 0.4 beta – May 2018
* Ability to follow other users
* User Pathway creation
* Pioneer administration
* Pioneer selection by users
* Your Learning Resume

Version 0.5 beta – June 2018
* Member signup
* Event Booking and Signup
* Credit Card Payment Integration
* Video onDemand
* Airbrn Gamification Goes Live
* Machine Learning Engine Goes Live

Onboarding Pioneers – June 2018
* Identify and onboard pioneers
* Allow for members with X followers to become pioneers
* Pioneer Section

Version 1 Release Candidate – June 2018
* Pre release on Social Media and Web Channels

Version 1 Stable – July 2018
* Full product global release

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Mark is an entrepreneur, writer and speaker. He is the founder and CEO of Suits & Sneakers and also founder of the Impello incubation hub. Mark loves to travel the world and is hell bent on disrupting education for people of all ages.