[IAEP] Stanford Online Education Course

Yama Ploskonka yamaplos at gmail.com
Fri Sep 14 01:30:35 EDT 2012

(Sur: este mensaje en inglés, en referencia a los cursos de Stanford - 
copio a esta lista ya que hubo interes allí, aparte de la discusión en 

On 09/11/2012 12:39 PM, Samuel Klein wrote:
> Yama - please tell us more about that class and your project and team! 
>  And what did the teacher think of the class - is it going to be 
> offered in the same way in the future?  Did you as participants help 
> suggest changes?  SJ
The main instructor (Chuck Eesley) actually used a blog as one of the 
main communication routes http://eesley.blogspot.com/
I did have some interaction with the teaching team, but little - 
contrary to my nature :-) I tried to take as little of their time as 
possible, being very aware that they probably could not afford to 
communicate much with me directly, as they had to spread themselves around.
Actually, that brings us to the *medium*. This was no class with an 
instructor "teaching" (there were some videos at the core, but the 
learning didn't happen /there/). This was a /learning environment/, sort 
of the agricultural metaphor "give them good soil, water, and they will 
grow to amaze you" (my words).
"Experiential Education", Chuck calls it, and those of you that have 
suffered my pronunciamientos are probably familiar with my own repeated 
use of the term over the years - actually, Experiential Education is 
what I came to learn to the United States originally.
I do not know if signing up http://venture-lab.org/ allows you access 
the archives, you would see that the tools used were many, and all of 
them interactive. Highly impressed as I am, my deepest respects will go 
to Farnaz, who appears to have been our sysop. On the fly updates to the 
interface were done several times a week, and I only noticed one outage 
of less than 15 minutes during the several months. Now, it was evident 
that the organizers were learning as they went, there were several 
delays, changes in the schedule, and many, many complaints in the forums 
- followed by quick action and respectful response.
I chose to see any inconvenience as reflecting reality of a startup 
progress.  This class was so real, so connected with what a tech startup 
feels like, that very soon there was a blur, many of us wondering, 'is 
this a class or is it an actual tech startup?'.
Fact is, were you to teach /anything/, it has to be /real/ to sink in.
This was *REAL*.
Thus it was *learning*, not make-believe as in "education".
The final insult :-) was that we were told with less than 24 hours the 
appointed time to pitch to a real investor (one that had been in one of 
the little videos that fed the class). Talk about the rubber meeting the 

At the beginning of the course there were a couple little projects. My 
"take" from those was that, if I were to be successful, I had to 
"invest" of myself. Thus, when time came to set up the "real" teams, I 
was very proactive. My strategy was to go for a big team - it paid off, 
though some people complained later.
My reasoning was that, as you know about volunteers, :-), they burn out, 
they are busy, etc. Having many assured some would be available at any 
time. The original idea was mine, reduced-wires home automation, but 
soon it took life of its own, and I truly can say that International 
Living Systems ( http://15ils.com ) has developed the concept to they 
point that it completely belongs to the team.
It was my choice to do something that is probably /not/ a good startup 
concept: make the team very international. At our max we had 30 people, 
in 17 different countries, 11 time zones.  It was a blast. Our listserv 
had a peak of several messages per minute when preparing one particular 
presentation, and even at the quietest moments, a good dozen per day.  
Our Investor was not too impressed (probably his money needs the 
"stability" of an all-America team), but I, and the team, do love it 
that our main tech guy is in Lithuania, our main Joomla sysop in Iran, 
our "reflective integrators" in Canada and somewhere in the US East, and 
active participants in every continent.
My total cost, excluding time, came to about $30, and zero for most others.
The team survived me dropping out for one month, as I was in Bolivia 
with no internet access. They did things by themselves. (Some say that's 
the mark of the best kind of leader - I prefer to think that's the mark 
of a team of capable people who get an opportunity to achieve on their 
own, away from the constraints of leaders)

Are "smart" habitat management systems *the* coming Big Thing, and will 
15ils be among those to take the lead? I don't know.
Yet, I went in with the idea to "learn" about how to position myself in 
tech startups, and by now I can at least see much better how to do it. I 
now know many buzzwords, and the mud feet they stand on. I have gained 
more confidence in myself. I have made great connections, not only with 
my team mates, but with other team leaders, professionals in similar 
fields, etc. My Linkedin looks almost like something

the downsides (¿?) 60,000+ began, less than 5,000 finished. Talk about a 
disastrous rate of attrition. Or think about it with clear eyes: the 
people that continued are the ones that could. Instead of the 
one-size-fits-all "education warehousing", here there was a free 
opportunity, freely taken. Of course it is sad to see that the have-less 
are the ones that got least - my international team was the exception, 
in giving a chance to some that no one would have given a chance.
If you are to do a real startup, as in many other fields socioeconomics 
does give you an edge, and you will choose "better", and might miss the 
Even then, it was better than what the have-less can get at home. Just 
like the XO and Sugar: they are something that, as available, can reach 
and benefit only a small proportion of those who receive the opportunity.

On 09/11/2012 11:51 AM, Kevin Mark wrote:
> If you have any summary of what skills or valuable  expierences that 
> you gained from s-g that helped you finish this high profile class, I 
> think folks would like to know! Or any insights for us to use.
> -Kev
s-g is open to anyone. Many people have skills, and desire to help, and 
often all they need is a gentle hand to get them moving. I am no Adam, 
but I could sometimes think on how he has managed to deal with the utter 
unreliability of humans, how to appreciate, encourage, carefully pull 
someone's ears in a discrete private message...
And how Adam guides us: when participating, *DO*. Do not expect 
direction, do your best.
As from a long ago conversation with Bernie, when organizing something 
like this, see your leader role to be one of a "catalyst".
Working in this kind of teams, reaching decisions is not easy, and the 
worst you can do is to try to build some complicated participation, 
organization process. Open source has it: operate with a Benevolent 
Dictator, and if you don't like it, fork, but keep moving!

When OLPC made decisions among 3, 4 people shut in one room, they made a 
mess. When the community had buy in and took ownership, good things were 
happening. I guess there is a moral there. Yet, a *real* startup needs 
be a small team, 3, 4 people, shut inside a small apartment, and throw 
away the key. In that sense, this class was not real. Once we go past 
/that/, we can enjoy working with people of all stripes from all over. 
Ultimately, the real win is in being able to cooperate. The small, 
hungry team will get the bucks, but humanity as a whole will gain more 
from simple, open handed cooperation.  A choice to make. Maybe I did not 
learn to be a successful Tech Entrepreneur after all :-)
But I got the better part, and it will not be taken away from me.

> --- On *Tue, 9/11/12, Yamandu Ploskonka /<yamaplos at gmail.com>/*wrote:
>     From: Yamandu Ploskonka <yamaplos at gmail.com>
>     Subject: Re: [support-gang] [IAEP] Stanford Online Education Course
>     To: "Community Support Volunteers -- who help respond to "help AT
>     laptop.org"" <support-gang at lists.laptop.org>
>     Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 10:15 AM
>     I am an alumn from Stanford's original Venture Lab class,
>     Technology Enterpreneurship, which officially finished about a
>     week ago.
>     I can vouch it has been the best ever University-connected
>     learning opportunity I have had.
>     It was not easy, and being the original organizer of the team that
>     placed as #12 in the final lineup (out of over 60.000 people that
>     started the class - less than 5.000 finished) I see as a shared
>     honor with the S-Gang and especially Adam, and OLE.
>     The team, cooperation, management skills that made for a
>     17-country, 11-time-zone team to make it through, and end up on
>     top, I have gained working with y'all - the fact we did not end #1
>     was due to my limitations, since the team was and is totally
>     amazing, and after our real-world pitch to a Silicon Valley
>     investor, keeps working, maybe to end up with a real enterprise.
>     HIGHLY recommended is an understatement.
> If you have any summary of what skills or valuableexpierences that you 
> gained from s-g that helped you finish this high profile class, I 
> think folks would like to know! Or any insights for us to use.
> -Kev
> _______________________________________________
> support-gang mailing list
> support-gang at lists.laptop.org
> http://lists.laptop.org/listinfo/support-gang

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/iaep/attachments/20120914/c8e1d86a/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the IAEP mailing list