How Brocoders Help to Improve the Higher Education in Ukraine
CASERS.org - a platform that helps to bring higher education from boring theory to real cases
For the last years, it’s been stated that the level of higher education in Ukraine leaves much to be desired. Graduates complain that the knowledge they get at the universities has nothing to do with the practical cases that they face once they apply to the job.
The old-fashioned format of long boring lectures, tons of rewritten notes are no more effective in the current pace of life. The world is developing fast and young specialists should be able to adjust to those changes and be flexible.
The ultimate goal of CASERS was to bring to the educational process the novelty and excitement that the students and the professors have been waiting for.
The concept of the platform is simple: on the one side, there are companies that have real cases to be solved and are looking for original and non-conventional ideas. On the other side, there are the students that are looking for the places where they can apply their theoretical knowledge in a real life. So, the founder of the platform Evgeniy Ursalov came up with the idea to connect the two parties together for a mutual benefit.
He addressed to our co-founder and his old friend Rodion Salnik to take part in the project and lead the technical part. Actually, it wasn’t the first project that they are working on together (previously, there was a platform for sports dance events call Danceter). So, the project discussion didn't take much time and within few weeks the Brocoders team moved to the MVP development.
The pluses of CASERS are obvious: the companies get the solutions that they’ve been looking for, the student get the practical cases, the experience and in the case if their solution wins, even money reward and an opportunity to get an internship in the largest companies of their country.
There can be some skeptical thoughts that the student can’t bring much value. But that’s not true. Firstly, students have much free time that they can dedicate to the problem solvation. Secondly, the students have a feeling of “hunger” for the practical cases but not just some theory. And the last, but, probably, one of the main reasons is that students are much more flexible. They have a fresh mind and they are more likely to come up with an out-of-the-box solution.
It’s actually not a revolutionary idea. The concept of bringing young specialists and big companies together has been already applied in the largest business schools all over the world. But, until the recent time, it didn’t exist in our country.
Everything started from the Open Kharkiv Championship of solving business cases - #SMPChallenge, that was organized by the CASERS team and the Karazin Business School. There were 15 cases and 515 participants. The most curious thing was that the both parties were willing to pay for the competition, as that time the participation in the championship wasn’t free for any of the parties. The fact that the companies and the students were ready to pay, proved the concept and allowed CASERS to move further.
While testing the idea in Kharkiv, it was decided to invite various kinds of the companies. There were both small companies, like 3D printing studio and big ones like Mivina (Nestle). There were even 2 cases from Kharkiv city council.
The championship showed that the students were able to bring useful and practical solutions to the companies.
There was even one situation when a financials director of one of the big enterprises called Evgeniy at 9.30 p.m. being very excited and said: “We’ve been working with the guys on the case and I’m astonished! I even haven’t realized that it can be solved it that way!”. Two other teams have also found very practical solutions to the problems and were even proposed to work in the company.
In general, the outcome of the championship was the following: 70% of the solutions were a complete nonsense, 20% - something interesting but not realistic or difficult to implement, and 10% - that were exactly the students and the solutions the companies were looking for.
The CASERS team has come to the conclusion that the small companies were using CASERS only for getting the solutions from that participants. Whereas, the big companies were more interested in finding young talents and inviting them to their companies.
So, in April 2017 CASERS launched the MVP for the product. As the main goal was still to test the idea and acquire the first adopters of the platform, the set of the features implemented in the MVP was rather limited. Having thought carefully about the project once again, we’ve come to the conclusion that the core features that were necessary at that stage were the case catalog, sign up system and the case page. The main section that we’ve decided to start with were finances, management, and marketing.
For now, the platform is showing a steady growth and the number of users is increasing considerably. And we are not going to stop. In the near future, we are planning to test our model in the following spheres: IT, legislation, remote work on the cases from other cities. We also want to implement the real cases in the university curriculum and get a partnership with other educational programs, establishments, and courses.
To sum it up, we can say that the idea of CASERS has shown that the higher educational system in Ukraine can and has to be improved. The world doesn’t need bookworms that are slaving at their notes day and night memorizing the things they’ll probably never use in their life. On the contrary, what we lack is highly professional specialists that are ready to solve the problems immediately and propose original solutions to the most complicated cases. And that’s exactly what CASERS helps them to do.
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