Coworking and Education – A Wise Partnership

By Liz Elam On March 4, 2013 In CoworkingConferenceCommunityCoworking Trends

Coworking is about the community we create.  Members from all walks of life – who share openness, curiosity, creative drive, entrepreneurship and perhaps even an elevated level of social consciousness – come together to spend their days (and nights) working and enjoying each others’ company.  It seems only natural that we cross-polliate with students and educators in our communities.  Our coworking communities can benefit from their fresh ideas, youthful exuberance and desire to learn, while they are introduced to a healthy dose of real life entrepreneurial spirit and possibly some business mentors.
At Mojo Coworking we’ve been working with education partners since our first month in business 2 years ago, but now – more than ever – we are connecting with learning institutions of all types and at all levels.
  • We recently hosted a Maker Day where elementary school aged children worked with Mojo members to build Minty Boost portable USB chargers – their sharp eyes and steady hands made for some extraordinary soldering skills.
  • We are developing a month long high-school “camp” with Unschool Adventures for next summer where 12 home schooled students will work 3 days a week at Flex Desks and meet up for 1-2 hours per day in the large conference room.
  • The Clemson University architecture program has used Mojo Coworking as a weekend venue for presenting ongoing work to local AIA “critics” from Asheville.  Mojo members working on weekends are often pulled into the conversation to add a dose of reality.
  • Mycelium School is working from Mojo to engage with entrepreneurs and community businesses as they prepare their curriculum.  Mycelium helps emerging leaders develop the skills, connections and hands-on entrepreneurial experience needed to dream big and activate change. Who better to help consult with educators about leadership than coworkers.
  • And, we’re in the final stages of setting up an on-going partnership with the University of North Carolina Asheville that will allow students and professors access to Mojo Flex Desks and meeting space.  The opportunity for students to talk, learn, share, intern and otherwise engage with “real” business leaders, free-lancers and entrepreneurs is a win-win situation that benefits everyone.  Through our downtown coworking space, UNCA also gets an exciting urban base that helps the university cross-pollinate with the community.
I’m interested to know how far this idea can go.  Can coworking spaces become out-boarded classrooms for universities?  And why just universities?  What about a venue for home school organizations? Or how about alternative education programs?  Or continuing education?  This would make a great conversation at the GCUC Unconference next week.
I’m certain that creative energy is directly proportional with curiosity and life-long learning.   Let’s take this further and find new models for building natural wisdom at the intersection of coworking and education.