Ontario: SSE-O Learning Approach
SSE-O uses a variety of learning methods to provide the tailored personal development and organizational support that social entrepreneurs need. Our Fellowship Program consists of several core learning elements: action learning sets, witness sessions, expert sessions, mentoring, and project visits. Going forward, new learning methodologies including training in human-centered design and innovative play-based learning will be integrated alongside the technical and business support components of the program.
We believe students learn “by doing”, specifically by applying insights in class directly to their ventures through practical action. Throughout each course, students gain skills and knowledge by interacting with peers, building new networks, and being challenged by practitioners, staff, and each other. This holistic educational approach provides students with the skills and training to turn their social dreams into reality.
A hallmark of the SSE methodology is Action Learning Sets (ALS). ALS consist of students working in small groups to tackle issues and problems that individuals in the group have encountered. Students take turns sharing a current challenge. Then, with the help of peers posing non-judgmental questions that provide a different perspective, students are supported in exploring their own actions. SSE Fellows consistently rate ALS as a deceptively simple and extremely powerful form of learning. In fact, many Fellows continue organizing ALS sessions even after they graduate.
We use "witnesses" to share their hard-earned experiences with our students. These witnesses are themselves social entrepreneurs willing to share the mistakes they made, the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them. Alongside ALS, SSE students consistently consider witness sessions as an extremely effective way of learning.
In some areas, students need technical advice and guidance. We bring in experts for students to listen to and question from fields such as financial management, business planning, sales, marketing, managing people, and partnering.
Where appropriate, SSE-O identifies mentors to offer students personal advice and guidance, coaching, information, support, and contacts. These relationships often continue long past the completion of the program.
We give students the opportunity to see for themselves social ventures that have been established in their local area. These project visits provide students with an excellent opportunity to question and seek inspiration from fellow social entrepreneurs.