Publish at August 03 2022 Updated August 03 2022

From caterpillar to butterfly, Ephemeral Formations

Rethink MOOCs and rethink a MOOC platform accessible at low connection speeds.

First challenge to solve: internet connection

After working on GoP-Lab of GoPMOOC from 2015 to 2018 with teams of project management students and being one of the creative parties in the Cercle APE Learning Together, with our team of 25 volunteers as of 2018, we recreated a learning and incubation ecosystem across the Francophone world and then for our conflict and climate disaster communities in Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon and DRC. 

For us, incubation is completely interrelated to training. We always directed our new collaborators and beneficiaries to MOOC GdP, but it didn't work for some of them, especially those from some African countries who didn't have a good enough internet connection to take the exams. 

A problem that was amplified when the AUF [Agence universitaire de la francophonie] stopped collaborating with MOOC GdP for the face-to-face tabletop exams in each French-speaking African country, for MOOC GdP, but also for a lot of other training. What we assess to have been a stoppage for certifying Francophone online training on Francophone Africa.

It is frustrating for a student to know that he or she has a 90% pass rate on the mock exams but will never be able to get a certificate of achievement. This is a transitional problem because within 10 years all of Africa will be properly connected and I estimate 30% of students will be able to take the online training. The rest are out of the loop.

So in 2018, we started our training plans from scratch. All from scratch, because no budget, but with hyperactive and hyper motivated volunteers. We had and still have a lot of momentum in our project teams and platforms that could be used by our beneficiaries effectively and not just by a small slice of them.

So we fell back on WhatsApp. A social platform, easy to use. Synchronous or asynchronous and on which everyone was connected, from the academic, to the nomad in the desert and the mom deep in her village. We had had the example of students in the GoP-Lab who had worked 11 weeks with Facebook chat.

If they had succeeded, we could do it too.

The COCÖÖÖN our first name included this system D dynamic

We were unknown to humanitarian organizations. Nothing stopped us. Nothing stops us today either. If we didn't have a budget, then we did it without a budget. Our projects, we can now call them ephemeral frugal digital projects, transitory or not. We have things to accomplish, we were creative enough to get there.

We set up Ephemeral Trainings. Our goals being humanitarian, we had all our time and energy to offer to the needy, victims of climate or current or past wars. Bringing knowledge, even sometimes the simplest, could and still can save lives or the future of a community or a person.

On the other hand, it was also for me the opportunity to enrich our know-how and to look for modus operandi to best train communities, based mainly in Africa. I like to transform misfortune into happiness and to experiment with my teams on essential subjects and there we were. There were collaborators to train, programs to disseminate to as many people as possible. It wasn't easy but we got there.

For 4 years we tried to enrich the collaborative methods between peers to arrive at co-creative process developments. But, we were dealing with a large population with very poor internet connectivity and, in most cases, an inability to take online training and especially to take online exams. Added to that, some were poorly literate, others had passive habits that needed to be reformatted.

We resolved to do complete trainings on Whatsapp. For example, complete trainings on internal uses such as how our Press Agency's back office works, Green Oceans and Blue Oceans trainings, trainings on how to support new members, on our Social Code... It has become a daily tool for us. Much stronger than a classic communication tool.

We have created what we call Ephemeral Trainings. Of course, we do not solve the problem of certification. The important thing for us being the transmission of the trainings of our members or beneficiaries more than the final certification. We turned to peer review and collective validation. Because peer recognition seemed just as valuable to us.

Anyone who practices peer correction will tell you that it's not easy. But if in fact, if you manage to solve the problem of variability related to the human person who is going to be asked to correct. An example of a solution: a model correction inserted into the correction packs. Our objective was above all to use it to develop the collective intelligence of our large communities that have to  deal with crises or manage collaborative projects.

For whom?

It is a humanitarian training project managed exclusively by volunteers. These volunteers with us are called "Angels" and work voluntarily on 9 branches of activity. The objective is the useful and necessary transmission to communities that need to rebuild and transmit further.

Because if our trainings are Ephemeral Trainings, they are no less living, evolving through our network Angels in Peer to Peer mode across our territories and our communities. An ephemeral training can thus leave the framework of WhatsApp and be taught by Peers to other Peers on the ground in a big city or in the depths of the desert.

How do we do it? 

The first key is sponsorship. We create groups supervised by a sponsor who will be careful to instill over time the values of our ecosystem and our co-creative workings, the keystone of which is attention and care for others. We must learn and unlearn as we experimented at the time with Denis Cristol, our excellent fellow editor of Thot Cursus within the framework of the APE Circle.

The first phase is to start by unlearning the hierarchical learning system as transmitted in the family, at school, at work and rediscover as a first step what empathy is. We had already tested and refined the beginnings of this phase during our GdP-Lab coaching of the MOOC GdP, project management. Where at the beginning of our GoP-Lab activities, we had to run behind our students to get their peer reviews.

In our last session, they were asking for more time to go and comment and therefore improve all the other projects. For me, this is what co-creation is all about, it is the desire to participate and improve even the projects of one's competitors. 

We are quite aware that this is something that is not well known and that our expertise is ahead of all of our colleagues and of the trainings currently taught in collective intelligence, but this is knowledge that corresponds very well to the needs of our communities.

The second key is the communication and structuring of training groups. A WhatsApp training with a very large group cannot afford to manage Q&A within that group. This is also why we partition by sponsorships. This requires recruiting quite a few sponsors as well.

But, we are then limited by this digital platform. It is accessible to the largest number of people but, it is not well suited to sophisticated educational tools. And above all, it requires a lot of supervisors. This is why we foresee in the coming years a mutation towards more relevant and rational in-house technological tools in terms of coaching.

And, let us note that these will allow the edition and correction of the certification of our trainings. For, if transmitting an Ephemeral Training is valid in our ecosystem, it is difficult to make it worthwhile to a future employer or to validate a level of training in order to go explore other themes in other university structures.

After having been caterpillar...

with The COCÖÖÖN, we are about to become a butterfly with our new name Regeneration Matrix Group.

We are, you will have understood, basically all project managers. Among these projects, we have 26 digital community governance modules accessible to the most needy that are starting to be created with our own standards in Cybersecurity, AI, Blockchain, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. All of this is going to be used to facilitate our community governance in our ecosystem called ANTAVERSE in which our online university will be deployed. ANTAVERSE is a kind of collaborative citizen Metaverse online, off the web with verified content.

Switching from frugal EPHEMER TRAININGS to METAVERSE, strange you might say. 

Yes, there is a step missing. We're going to go through the MOOC step again. But not just any MOOC. A disruptive MOOC based on our experience with EPHEMERES TRAININGS. And, this MOOC will be hosted in part by a MOOC platform that will be gradually improved.

And, being still faced with connection issues, but especially hardware issues for our users, we oriented for our next step to the creation of a university mobile application accessible for all our communities.

Our first technological step.

In fact, while computers are scarce, there may be more than one cell phone per family. With this time processes of examinations and issuing certificates of achievement and educational monitoring of our beneficiaries and open to all. Because, it is normal to receive a certified evaluation at the conclusion of a training.

For us,  another challenge is to bring the training and information directly to the heart of our communities and to make them evolve over time in a relevant way as well as to disseminate them to the greatest number. For this we will also use the tools dedicated to the disabled and illiterate to allow them to also access part of the training.

Transforming the academic governance of trainings

While we have started from scratch the basis of the training processes, we have also been interested in how to track the evolution of knowledge within the training programs themselves. 

Ephemeral Trainings, if they are ephemeral by their presence of a moment on a WhatsApp thread, they are in essence focused on the knowledge of the present moment. They are immediate, always up to date and do not bother with a conventional framework of experts looking for standardizations that, in the end, sclerotize the training system.

I have already written about it multiple times in several articles: taking 6 years to create a university training for innovation professions is incompatible with the progress, some of which are lightning, of new technologies. Take a virtual reality engineer who faces major changes every 6 months.

The current system creates cro-magnon men and women who arrive completely out of frame on the job market, eons behind the real thing. Faced with this state, we must change the structure, we must change the processes, we must change the pace otherwise the current structures will be replaced by others more agile. 

Having a passion for new technologies, I have done quite a bit of experimentation in A.I., Blockchain, Cybersecurity and Virtual Realities. Many of them are not from academia. They are outside of the data collection processes via chambers of commerce and it all doesn't work the way it used to.

The speed, the networks, the professionals, everything needs to be re-normalized differently. It seems to me that where the university took professionals who had needs and offered them their future professionals, that can no longer work. Because there, the professional was master of his tools, of his market. Today, either he pulls the market and he creates new standards himself, but they are very few and the others are pulled towards something that they do not master either in their field of action or in their objectives. And, when they follow, they cannot project themselves 6 years later. They don't have that visibility anymore.

So, from my point of view, it's no longer up to universities to follow the market.  Their new role is to anticipate the market, which is more difficult for sure, especially for the profiles in place now. Anticipating is easier for people who follow the changes in the framework of incubators for example. Futurists of tomorrow's practice and practice can project tomorrow's jobs. 

In our case, we work on our own needs. Tomorrow, yesterday almost, we are going to need to support our victim communities that have expanded with the COVID communities. So we are moving towards the resilience professions. But also towards the Metaverse because we are developing a Metaverse. 

Look at your ecosystem, look at the problems, the potentials, and propose, be actors of the future. In any case, 6 years to create a formation is a thing of the past. We need to decentralize the forces and make the trainings rely on multiple agile actors who will come and modify and enrich our processes. Nothing is set in stone.

Image source: DepositPhotos

See more articles by this author


  • Carte blanche

  • True to the program




Access exclusive services for free

Subscribe and receive newsletters on:

  • The lessons
  • The learning resources
  • The file of the week
  • The events
  • The technologies

In addition, index your favorite resources in your own folders and find your history of consultation.

Subscribe to the newsletter

Add to my playlists

Create a playlist

Receive our news by email

Every day, stay informed about digital learning in all its forms. Great ideas and resources. Take advantage, it's free!