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Coworking Spaces

Will Coworking Spaces Be The New Classrooms?

Geekdom Robotics Challenge at Dwight Middle School. (Image: Dustin Larimer)

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Coworking communities train students

One of the highlights of coworking, is without a doubt, the incredible source of knowledge that represents the community. In Nevada, the Reynolds School of Journalism (RSJ) and Reno Collective space (RC) chose the option of partnering-up with a coworking space, as a way to offer courses to students that will be facilitated by members of the coworking community. This is a perfect example of a successful cooperation between the two spaces, because teachers are also able give courses in coworking space. In an interview done by RC, Dean RSJ said: "We hope to have the energy and expertise of Reno Collective to help us be more innovative and entrepreneurial in our work."

In a similar approach, nti Leeds's space, located on the campus of the Leeds Metropolitan University, offers a three-month training program for students wishing to become entrepreneurs in the field of digital technology. At the end of the three months, students have the option to join the coworking community at a discount, while simultaneously continuing to train. This causes interest, not only because it offers a great service to future entrepreneurs, but also to future coworkers. At the onset of training each student has a mentor to assist in their professional project, yet students are also encouraged to participate in a variety of events as a way to create their own professional network.

This cooperation between universities and coworking seems logical because both pursue the same goals. However at a time when all knowledge is available online, some believe that the University will disappear in favor of mentoring.

When coworking spaces replace universities

Geekdom, a coworking space based in San Antonio, Texas, began in September of 2012. The space also has an educational program, SparkEd, and has seen about 1500 young people enrolled in 30 "Weekend Camps", which are run by the community. In addition, there have also been about 5000 that registered to work in Geekdom the following year. Geekdom works with local schools, teaching subjects such as web design, programming, robotics and entrepreneurship at a public college.

In an interview with cofounders of Geekdom, Nick Longo confidently states: “Every university, nearly all the high schools and middle schools participating [in SparkEd] (...) they all came to us. Schools know they’re broken (...) our job is to replace them. Mentorship is the new classroom. Want to become a developer? I can teach you Ruby or Python in a few months and guarantee you a job earning $50,000 to $75,000 a year. You can start that at 18 years old.”

In fact, there would be a way for some communities to pass as universities and have even become a new type of campus. Before becoming a true "learning company" that focused in technology, business and design, General Assembly was a (curated) coworking space. Even its founder declared, " how many of those teachers [from traditional establishements] have time to work in the field that they teach?“

Another example would be the space Betamore located in Baltimore, MD, which has now positioned itself as a campus for entrepreneurs and technology. Its purpose is to invigorate the ecosystem of Baltimore through education, programming, finance, law, and design. Betamore offers a unique curriculum that is open to all audiences. This includes members of the coworking space, independent contractors, employees and students in training. In the long term, Betamore even hopes to be able to offer certifications.

Mentoring to all and for all.

Being open to the relationship between coworking spaces and universities could cause them to become the next classrooms. Indeed Skillshare, which is a true marketplace of competence, has already developed partnerships with spaces like Hiveat55 and CoComsp, where they have created classrooms within the same coworking space.

Once there is access to the user base of these platforms, even a student will be able to teach coworkers. This then proves that the boundaries between those who teach and those who learn will become blurred. Since the development of "social sharing", it is now clearly seen as a benefit to share your knowledge. Again, coworking spaces have changed the way we work and we are now poised to change the way that we learn.

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