Renowned management expert Henry Mintzberg, creator of the organigraph, double winner of the McKinsey Award, professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University in Canada and harsh critic of MBA education has changed the way the world looks at Massive Open Online Couses (MOOCs) by re-conceptualizing it on the basis of group dynamics. He has through this process coined a new concept:

GROOCs= MOOCs + Team-based Collaboration

Mintzberg and his team has added the element of social learning and leveraged the power of peers that is missing in MOOCs. In 2015, McGill University became one of the first universities in the world to experiment with the GROOCs format. The course titled “Social Learning for Social Impact,” introduced through GROOC, impacts the young leaders by acquainting them with the path set by leading social impact initiatives including crisis-aid group Doctors Without Borders, micro-finance pioneer Grameen Foundation, and education pioneer the Khan Academy to name a few. This GROOC is for participants who want to make their mark through the key element of the course: “radical renewal.” Since then, the course has picked up steam.

Said Mintzberg, “ Some of the most powerful learning is not done individually by reading a book or listening to a lecture, but in groups by taking ideas and kicking them around.”

The participants in this 11-week online course are divided into groups of four to ten, and roughly 30 trained volunteers facilitate peer feedback and evaluate participant group discussions. This results in a more integrated approach to learning and problem solving. It exposes participants to social learning for social impact, encompassing the following topics: Engaging, Strategizing & Organizing, Designing, Resourcing, Assessing and Scaling – across the stages of start-up, development and proliferation.

McGill’s experiment with MOOCs and GROOCs has been funded by philanthropy, not out of operational funds. One of the most valuable things is the way they teach teachers about more effective ways to teach.

If you are already working within the social sector or strongly feel for a social cause, GROOCs could be the next big thing for you in the online executive education space.

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