New Course for Online Educational Start-ups Now Enrolling (Where Else?) Online

A trailblazing course on how to set up online courses is now online. It doesn’t get much more meta than that, except if we consider that the course provider is not a traditional university, but one of Eastern Europe’s leading online education platforms.

“The Science of Learning: What an Education Start-up Leader Should Know”, was launched in January by Prometheus, a top provider of online learning in Ukrainian language, in partnership with the Prague Civil Society Centre (PCSC). The course will teach students how to create online courses, take advantage of the features of modern digital education and use digital tools to create engaging, informative educational content. It is especially geared towards educational start-ups looking to offer online learning in the humanities, social and political sciences, economics and financial literacy, civic activism and urban initiatives, gender studies, social entrepreneurship, IT and communications.

The Science of Learning is the first course Prometheus has offered in Russian language, having made the decision to broaden their market beyond Ukraine after partnering with PCSC to host Bistro.edu, an accelerator program for online learning start-ups from across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, held in Kyiv in June. The popularity of this event proved just how high demand is among e-learning start-ups from the region for opportunities to scale up their products.

Meeting Face-to-Face

Bistro.edu organisers invited the creators of 20 of the most promising online learning projects under development in the region to a three-day intensive round of workshops led by experts in the fields of online education, product management and marketing. The five strongest projects received a cash injection and several months of additional expert advising and support to usher the project to the next level.

Among the winners was a program from Kyrgyzstan that teaches English to Kyrgyz speakers via WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging services in Central Asia. Language learners can watch video lessons, submit homework assignments and get feedback on their work, all on their phones, making it an invaluable learning tool for people in the most rural parts of the country.

Another standout project drew inspiration from the Polish “flying university” model of underground education that flourished under the Russian Empire at the turn of the 20th century and again under Communist rule to provide young people with access to lines of academic inquiry closed off by authorities in state schools. The project’s Belarusian creators devised a platform for streaming video lectures from Belarusian and foreign thinkers whose scholarship and ideas clash with the country’s official ideology.

All of the winners have since upgraded their offering and expanded their network of students.

Participants in PCSC’s Bistro.edu accelerator program for online educational start-ups.

A Thriving Market

The global e-learning market is booming, with industry analysts estimating it will reach 325 billion USD by 2025. Most of that demand is coming from developing countries, where e-learning can provide learners with access to world-class educational resources which may not be available where they live. In Eastern Europe, e-learning offers a supplement or alternative to the limited offerings in some subjects areas among state educational institutions, and in Central Asia, e-learning is often the only option for rural students living far from brick and mortar schools to continue their education.

As one of the premiere online education platforms in Ukraine with over 1000 000 registered students and over 110 online courses, Prometheus is well positioned to share their expertise with other online education start-ups in the region. For its part, PCSC will continue to support the online dissemination of that knowledge, as well as to bring together, in person, the creators of start-up online educational projects with the most potential at the next session of Bistro.edu later this year.

–Emily Thompson