Enrol Yourself is a platform set up by Roxana Bacian and Zahra Davidson aiming to harness the potential of peer groups, infinite content and a networked world for personalised, flexible and affordable lifelong learning. In this blog post, Roxana explains how the idea came about and how it works.

From September, Enrol Yourself will be piloting a six month ‘learning marathon’ with thirteen participants, all professionals who want to push their creative development through setting learning goals they’ve been wanting to pursue, whether that’s acquiring a new skill, leading their own ventures or developing social innovation projects.

The project’s early beginnings date back four years ago, when we met whilst working at Snook. We started having conversations about what work meant to us, how our personal values related to our working practice, why creative development and continuous learning mattered to us and most importantly how this fit with our day-to-day responsibilities.

For myself, it started out of a need to explore different avenues for my work in design and beyond, into dance, writing and performance. I wanted to do this through short-term projects instead of long-term commitments such as a new job or degree. For Zahra, the idea for Enrol Yourself had grown out of several years’ work, research and thought, and whilst she had been thinking of applying for a master’s, she couldn’t find one that would truly tailor to her interest in design, sustainability and education, and the huge fee was a barrier too.

Today, we have thirteen participants ready to kick-start their first ever learning marathon. We are encouraged to see others excited by the unbounded possibilities today’s world provides for learning. We are also looking forward to participating and understanding the needs of the learner at each stage of the journey, helping us build the tools that make personalised, lifelong and flexible learning possible for a wider group of people; from employees that need to meet the growing demands and responsibilities of their jobs to those for whom access to learning is a struggle.

In order to get here, we’ve already started on a learning journey that has been made so much more positive through the support we’ve had from people within our networks and beyond. Starting with EdSpace who have offered us desk space and membership to their community: an extremely valuable chance to work alongside people transforming education; to Snook, who have offered us space to hold events and their ongoing feedback. We’re also thankful to UsTwo, Red Jotter, Forum for the Future and Coachbright for their ongoing support.

There are many others we haven’t mentioned here, who’ve helped us in one way or another, whether through coverage, offering their expertise over lunch or the chance to share Enrol Yourself more widely. Between us we’ve met 40 people across several different countries to develop the idea through conversation. By going through this process we prototyped one element of a learning marathon: the value of networks for learning, which to us lies in building relationships, forming a collaborative web and framing our learning within collective thinking and practice.   

Listen to 21st Century Design’s podcast to learn more about Enrol Yourself. Follow our progress on Twitter, Facebook or Medium. Applications reopen January 2017 for a second group to set out on their learning marathon.