The popularity of massive open online courses 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 Venture Lab. The course attracted tens of thousands of students around the globe who committed varying portions of their time each week to engage in hands-on assignments that would test their ability to be creative. Some of these assignments were designed to be submitted by individuals and others by teams put together by Venture Lab.

Tina’s course is structured around weekly lectures followed by unique creativity challenges that are 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. Her lecture can be found below.

 

Tina’s lectures are of high-end production quality and are designed to briefly explain a new concept related to creativity, which sparks active group discussions dedicated to applying the particular concept in the context in a specific real-world scenario. Tina encourages her students to unleash their creative potentials and helps them to overcome any hurdles along their paths to success.

A unique feature that the platform offers the is the ability for students to view and post comments 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 they 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, who is currently enrolled in the class.

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 with 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 at par with knowledge and experience from the lectures and assignments,” he writes. Sathyendra recently finished a Bachelor’s Engineering degree in Electronics and Instrumentation. However, he mentions that it was only after recently getting an internet connection that he has realized the how much more he would like to learn.

In response 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 the fact that I don’t 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 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.