It’s Time to Make Time to Be a Genius

Graham du Plessis

Posted: January 13, 2020

Table of Contents

For the past 150 years, the majority of learning model types have barely changed. Think desks in neat rows one behind the other, featured all the way from pre-school to university. While we’ve seen movement in the method, nothing seems to have shaken the traditional model of education. 

That is, until Online EdTech stepped in.

The blend of online and traditional methods is being seen in more and more traditional public and private universities, and the trend is catching on quickly.

This is because students don’t just want knowledge. Rather, they want to know how to apply it. They are looking for skills that they can use NOW – in their world of work or to upskill themselves to improve their career prospects.


MasterStart is eager to explore how we can do just that – how we can equip students with very practical methods to use immediately. This year, we are excited to take registered learnerships to a fully online approach.

Learnerships, created within a field for those involved in the field, helps to develop the necessary skills for learners to excel in their industry. This means there is a focus on relevant and practical experience designed to teach the learner how to best perform tasks within their profession.

It has been found that learnerships have contributed to a decrease in the unemployment rate in South Africa, especially when learners are absorbed back into the company where they completed their programme. This tends to occur as the learnerships can be customised to meet the skills gap experienced by the employer or sector.

Online learning is particularly well suited towards flexibility, given the nature of some of the learning management platforms used.

However, I would argue that the emphasis from the training providers – and indeed the students – is still on knowledge and information distribution and acquisition. I believe that the measure is still that all-important certificate or statement of results.

I also think there’s more to it. I have been inspired by the trend that educational technologists, academics and futurists see becoming a major educational movement in the new year, suitably dubbed “Genius Hour”.

What is Genius Hour?

“Each week, employees can take a Genius Hour — 60 minutes to work on new ideas or master new skills. They’ve used that precious sliver of autonomy well, coming up with a range of innovations including training tools for other branches.”

Genius Hour

Genius Hour, also known as 20% Time or Passion Project, refers to the concept whereby employees spend one-fifth of their time at work passionately pursuing projects that interest them. This entails researching, learning, building and designing a product with purpose and innovative intent. As pointed out by Centeril, Genius Hour has resulted in two of the biggest, most well-known names in innovation in today’s society – Gmail and Post-it Notes. 

Online education, in my opinion, is ideally suited to encourage and foster the type of environment in which Genius Hour can thrive.

The online forums and chats function not only as space to ask assignment-related questions but can also offer a platform where ideas and thoughts can be shared by students. Genius Hour is set to be student-oriented and fully purpose-driven. That is, it needs to be part of the course learning design and cannot simply be an add-on. As a result, the online learning process should be collaborative and social in order to see the best results from students and their efforts.

Genius Hours’ innovative ideas should be shared and seen from a variety of angles, with no space for judgement. The concept of Genius Hour in education is said to be inherently creative and should remain so.

All I need to do is find an hour sometime this new year to work on my genius idea! Watch this space for gold…

online short courses

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