Beyond the Pitch
EduSourced Leads the Field in Experiential Learning Management
What if every student who graduates college already had real world experience in their field?
That’s the big idea behind EduSourced, an Ohio startup with the leading cloud-based software tool to manage learning programs where college and university students work on company-sponsored learning projects as part of their coursework.
This is often referred to as experiential learning.
Just as “learning by doing” is at the heart of experiential learning, so is delighting the market by engaging directly with potential customers at the core of EduSourced’s approach to creating a company.
“When we first went to market last September, we had a steep learning curve,” said David Comisford, EduSourced founder. “Engineering programs have been doing experiential for years and business schools are adopting it in a huge way. For some schools it is the marquise feature of their curriculum. We didn’t expect the level of interest and engagement.”
Comisford didn’t delay. He and the EduSourced team talked to hundreds of schools. EduSourced set up an advisory board. The company attended Concept Academy, and went to market with a minimally viable product (MVP).
“We learned the easy and the hard way from our clients,” Comisford said. “You can’t sell if you don’t know your market. You can’t build if you don’t know their goals. We’ve learned to listen instead of guess.”
EduSourced’s solution is the first tool of its kind designed to manage and support experiential programs. The startup is serving the likes of New York University Stern and the University of Illinois College of Business and recently attracted several hundred thousand dollars in equity capital, bringing total equity capital to more than $1 million.
Experiential learning programs in High Ed: A quick tutorial
Experiential education programs connect college students and businesses with projects or problems that need to be solved. The students do the work and learn how to apply what they’ve learned in class. Some universities bill for the services as a consulting engagement; other programs are conducted pro bono.
Companies receive the benefits of the students’ energy and creativity. The school forms deeper connections with the business community and becomes acutely tuned in to the skills that their graduates need to succeed in the marketplace.
Experiential learning is being widely adopted in colleges and universities across the US—especially in business and engineering schools—but not without challenges.
“Each school has its own take on experiential learning. The common thread is the incredible dedication the faculty and staff who run these programs have in providing their students with top quality, relevant education. But it is hard to launch and manage these programs and even harder to measure their impact,” said Comisford.
“Organizing and managing the experiential learning projects, whether there are three or a 100, presents the continuous challenge of so many moving parts,” he said. “For most of these programs, the pain is real and immediate. Schools need the right process, the right staff and the right technology. We provide the technology.”
EduSourced zeroes in, delighting customers by solving their problems
There aren’t enough hours in the day for a professor who might be teaching several classes and managing up to a dozen student teams, each working for a different company.
Communication can be spotty. As the students work on a project with their clients, the school can lose visibility into what they are doing. And there’s the inverse. Client companies can lose touch with the student team’s progress since the students are usually completing the project in a university software tool that the clients have no access to.
Further, quantifying and reporting the impact of experiential learning engagements to recruit students, sell corporate clients or to secure the support and funding from deans, department chairs, and other faculty is very difficult.
EduSourced’s cloud-based collaborative tool is easy to use. It consolidates project information, automates project flow, and creates reports for stakeholders, the analysis they need with just a few clicks. The tool is flexible and can be configured and branded for schools or departments.
The time saved in project management can be redirected to learning and problem solving and in some cases allows schools to grow the experiential program to complete more projects.
“Schools can report that they did a good job,” Comisford said. “We make the data easily accessible. “We have clients managing three projects per year and clients managing over 100. The need really does not change much.”
Largest professionally managed student-run university consulting group in US uses EduSourced
The Illinois Business Consulting (IBC) at the University of Illinois was founded in 1996 and has conducted approximately 1,500 projects for more than 800 clients.
“EduSourced is designed specifically for this type of program,” said Andrew Allen, IBC director. “We get to see students and see students learn. We see the light bulb turn on when they are with a client and learn to be a leader and go through lessons they can only get through a project like these.”
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