Platform Coops Now ! - Online Course by The New School and Mondragon University

Any interest in CoTech members to partner in this, scepticism about the platform coop meme notwithstanding? For clarification, if you’re a member of Coop UK you’re also in the CICOPA network. And as far as I’m concerned even if you aren’t (speaking as a CICOPA board member :grin:)

Dear members,
We hope this finds you well and healthy.
This email is to inform you about a common initiative launched by Mondragon University and the New School University in New York to launch an online course on Platform Cooperatives, called “Platform Cooperatives Now!”.

As you might know, this topic is being put forward since a few years by a professor at the New School, Trebor Scholz, whose conferences on the matter have gathered hundreds of cooperators, practitioners, traditional entrepreneurs and scholars to discuss the topic of collective ownership (workers, producers and users) in online platforms.

CICOPA follows the topic closely and actively took part in conferences and debates, where several CICOPA members (or members of members) were present as speakers and/or participants. In the light of recent COVID-19 crisis, Mondragon University and The New School joined forces to deliver an online course which foresees 2 parts:

  • a more educational one on platforms and worker cooperatives curated by Trebor Scholz and Jose Mari Luzarraga (from Mondragon University)

  • a more interactive one, where participants will work in small groups (divided by country and possibly by language). In this second part, the objective is for local partners of the programme (cooperatives, or local federations, or experiences practitioners) to facilitate the actual incubation of platform coops in the countries in a few weeks time span. In this framework, many local partners have been involved by the New School and Mondragon University but the quest is not over. Current local partners include several CICOPA members (or member’s regional structures or first degree coops), such as LegaCoop Liguria (Italy), LegaCoop Bologna (Italy), Doc Servizi (Italy), Camba (Argentina), OCB (Brazil), Sewa Federation (India), and others.

CICOPA was kindly solicited to partner up to make sure that worker coops federations on the ground have the possibility to join the course and fully take part in the potential incubation initiatives that might arise.

Therefore, the course has two Global Partners (CICOPA and the ICA Youth Network), on top of the local ones mentioned above. Since the course has already attracted 300+ registered participants from all over the world, we believe this to be a good opportunity for CICOPA globally and CICOPA members locally to highlight their expertise, reiterate the role of worker ownership and control applied to online platforms and facilitate potential incubation of new projects under the cooperative form.

Unlike most online courses delivered by universities, this online course is particularly accessible (150 USD per participant – reduced fees apply for some countries) and it provides a certificate to all attendees.

The course will start on the 1st of June and will last until the end of July.

All relevant information for registering as a participant (student) can be found here. (in many languages)

Should you be interested in this project as a local partner , please contact us as soon as possible at mila.shamku@cicopa.coop.

We remain available for any questions you might have,

Warm greetings,

Mila Shamku

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Hi @Sion thanks for posting. I’m going to do this. Are you doing it? Apparently the numbers are huge… 300 people? How will they manage???

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Also, what really, is the criticism of Platform coops? That they are in danger of becoming remote because of their size? But how else could you organise a coop like Stocksy with 1,000 member photographers? You can’t fit that many round the Boardroom table…

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My personal criticism of platform cooperatives is they’ve been talked about for a long time, but we really only have one or two real examples at scale. Why this is is never examined fully.

The canonical book on the movement came out in 2017, talking about things done in 2016 and before. Stocksy was an example in it, but we don’t seem to have any more.

Perhaps I am now misinformed. I would be very glad indeed to be wrong about this!

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Thanks Alex.
I am aware of others, the freelancer coop Smart (in Europe), the music cooperatives Resonate and Ampled and the care coops Equalcare and Belle Vie but you are right, as was pointed out in the NESTA research last year (https://www.uk.coop/PlatformCoop) to get many more platform coops started we need a way for the organisers to access the capital investment needed to scale up. Crowdfunding via community shares was proposed and this is the route that we are going down with Crystalisr. I hope to access the resources of the New School project on the course to get more insight, but really, if you are going to have a platform you nee to build it and that costs money.

But what role in this does CoTech have? What are the modalities of getting coders and digital development teams on here working together on building platforms? How would the commissioning work (assuming that people don’t have the time or the money to work for free!?

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Actually the real numbers of Platform Coops worldwide has to be in the hundreds. This list is a snapshot in 2016…https://www.shareable.net/11-platform-cooperatives-creating-a-real-sharing-economy/ but if you were to look at just one sector like ride sharing, there must be lots of coops now.

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We’ve signed up two people from Animorph to find out what’s that all about, will report back at some point, starting shortly, the range of participants is really promising!

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See you there! Amazing global participation. Excepting the 3 researchers from Sheffield, there seem to be 14 of us from UK, of whom all but 2 are from London.

Animorph (2) software - computing
Crystalisr (2) freelancers, local SMEs (South London)
Participatory City (1) Barking and Dagenham community
Socially Enterprising (1) Social enterprise builder platform
We-Guild (1) Financial
Democratic Jobs (1) Recruitment
Doorstep Collective (1) Cycle deliveries
Co-op College (1) Education/Art school platform
students/undecided (4)

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This course is running again starting toward the end of October, see

https://www.mondragon.edu/en/-/segunda-edicion-programa-cooperativas-plataforma-

The deadline to apply to this 25 Oct 2020 is coming up and they are looking for more UK participants, see http://uk.coop/newsroom/platform-co-ops-now