UpGrad BaseCamp: An Idea to Reach Out to our Students

BaseCamp – a word, a concept now synonymous with the awesome learning experience that UpGrad provides to its learners and changing the way we look at online education. Before I divulge into the details of BaseCamp let me take you through the story of its inception.
The month was the May of 2017 and the team (the Student Mentors and I) was discussing the need to have offline meetups to interact with our learners and get to know them better; we felt it would add value to the overall learning experience and also put a face to all those conversations with learners that the student mentors were engaging in. But the idea somehow got lost in all the other important work that we were doing.
Jump to June 2017, the team was having a meeting with one of our co-founders on the dynamism of the Student Mentor role and we brought to the table our ever-growing need to meet our learners. The idea picked up from there and for about 2 months we planned and re-planned and refined our idea to come up with a structure and a name all were pleased with.
Introducing UpGrad LABS

We successfully executed the first UpGrad BaseCamp in September at our Mumbai office and then took it to Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Delhi – cities with high learner base. Our plan was simple – to ensure our learners have a great time and go away feeling happy, enriched and valued. Were we able to deliver? I would like to believe that we did. If one was to go according to the overwhelming response that we received from our learners, praising our efforts and telling us about the wonderful experience they had meeting their cohort-mates, professors and winning kindles in the quiz. Yes, that was the prize!
The company has caught on the BaseCamp fever and we are now 11 BaseCamps down across 3 programs. We have evolved and so has the idea. BaseCamps now act as a physical platform for extensive peer to peer learning, idea exchange and networking with the aim to bring learners from across cohorts together and help them bond to form a strong alumni community that will always root for UpGrad.
And our learners have gained a sense of belonging, knowledge on best practices from relevant industries, skills needed for upskilling themselves and a lot of fun memories! What did we gain out of this? An understanding that our learners have a strong need to connect with us and their cohort-mates, that our learners can put up a good fight if the rewards are great ?, and that BaseCamp can give us a cutting edge over other online offerings and place us as an online education company with an offline edge!
Launching UpGrad Xchange – Where Sharp Minds Meet

I can confidently say that BaseCamp as a concept is here to stay and last week when our CEO and founder called me and a few others to help position BaseCamp as a product offering from UpGrad I couldn’t be prouder because hey the idea was ours, to begin with!

What are some of the ways to encourage peer-to-peer interaction in the case of online education?

Online education has gained widespread popularity in recent times. People from all over the world are taking the help of online education to learn about the different fields. It provides the chance to learn complex things in a simplified and lucid manner from industry experts. Although the overall learning experience is greatly enhanced, it has several drawbacks. One of the most common among them is the lack of interaction between students. There are many ways to address the problem, such as organising regular offline meetups, practical group activities, encouraging students to have informal meetings, involving the students in group paper presentations, etc.

What are some of the standard options for online learning?

The spread of the Internet brings a vast arena of opportunities, one of which is online learning. It reaches the far corners of the world at lightning speed and has several forms based on the content and the duration. Some widely popular ways of attaining online education are bootcamps, YouTube, online degrees and courses. Students can opt for any one of them according to their convenience and learn at their own pace. Nowadays, many renowned universities offer degrees through an online mode of education. People can learn from experts in the field from the comfort of their homes.

What are the disadvantages of online education?

Although it is widely popular and super convenient, online education also suffers from many disadvantages. This is why many people are apprehensive about its benefits and are worried about various side effects and limitations. People need to be constantly present in front of screens to attend classes. This has led to the prevalence of eye and back problems among youngsters. It has also been the leading cause of distraction among youngsters. Additionally, online education leads to a lack of physical interaction among students and between students and teachers. This limits the scope of students’ growth. Also, it becomes difficult to clarify doubts online, which hinders the process of acquiring knowledge.

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