The Alternative University [2014]

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A professional learning community

The Alternative University

Customized for your needs

Choose what and how to learn

Authentic relationships, 1-1

Reorganize our model to suit your needs

Table of Content About us Who are we?

pag 4

Where are we heading towards?

pag 5


Personalized education

Stages of Development Individual support Counseling for autonomy in learning

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Personal branding and networking

pag 19 Communities of practice

Communities of practice

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Trainings and intensive courses

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Open Badges

pag 25

Sharing day

pag 26

Workshops and learning groups

pag 27


pag 28

New Media School

pag 29

Syncer School

pag 30

Communites that are still in the forming phase

pag 31 Impact on society

You challange yourself and learn from your experience

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pag 35

Rent a Team

pag 36

Business incubator

pag 37 Learning environment

The Game

pag 39


pag 40

Our promise Parteners

pag 42


pag 43


Who are we? Ioana

Silvia Corina Ana

Violeta Horațiu


Floriana Vlad

Miruna Andrei



photo: Photolio for Decât o Revistă #11


CROS Organization was founded 6 years ago as part of the dream to create the first alternative university in Romania. CROS became in 2013 “The Alternative University” and consists now of a team of 13 educators and learning architects. The founders of the Alternative University have an experience of over 10 years in education and have worked directly with more than 2000 young volunteers and 106 youth organizations.

In the following years, we believe the values that stand at the core of the Romanian education need to be replaced: autonomy and trust instead of control, diversity and customization instead of standardization, critical thinking instead of indoctrination. In the long run, our university will contribute to the profound transformation of education in Romania.

In 2011, at the Education Awards Gala, CROS received a special distinction for contributing to the educational system in Romania through innovation and through the Alternative University’s vision.

We are a team of young people passionate about education.

Where are we heading towards? A Different University

A Revolution in Education

We created the first alternative university in Romania based on autonomy in learning, collaborating in communities of practice and impactful projects. The Alternative University is for young people who have the potential to become agents of change in the Romanian society. Our goal is that, by 2023, 1% of the Romanian students will learn in the Alternative University campuses.

The Alternative University will bring hope that education can be reinvented in the Romanian society. Its existence will promote diversity and innovation in education. The Alternative University students will create innovative projects and programs, giving birth to an ecosystem of educational alternatives. They will join RestartEdu (a community for innovators in Education) and, along with other innovators, will create the critical mass of projects that will profoundly transform education.

The World-Changer Manifesto I live in the world of “this is how it is”, “this is how it must be”, “that’s the way to do it” and “everyone works for himself”. It seems to be the creation of those who forgot to play, to dream, to believe in stories, to believe in themselves. I discover people that don’t know themselves and still go forward without joy, without purpose, out of inertia. I often hear that “this is too hard”, “it’s impossible”, “it’s not worth it”. I choose to see things differently.

I choose to stay a dreamer and to become the creator of my own world. I want to know myself, to know where I want to go and why. I want to grow strong and optimistic and to live joyfully. I will make things happen. I will make a difference. I will create projects out of passion. I will have the courage to challenge myself every single day. If I fall, I will rise stronger. I will be curious to discover everything that is to love and admire in our world. I will find others just like me and together we will learn how to create a world in which we will madly love to live.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.“ Nelson Mandela


the principles of our learning model


starting from our principles In our culture, young people’s paths meet universities in the moment when they start looking for a place in the world, a place where they will feel fulfilled. The years they spend in universities are firstly a process of searching themselves and secondly one of

professional development. Our university’s role is to support the students while they transform themselves and the world they live in in search of their element.


They have the basic level of comfort covered (material, emotional, social)

+ We believe that people are happy and fulfilled when they have found the place where:





ation r o


The way the Alternative University contributes to each student’s path to find his element is based on 4 educational principles that support each other and create a system together.

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t in soc ac


Their life has a purpose, a meaning, a mission bigger than their own good.

nomy uto Fertile learning environment


They are in that state of mind where time disappears and they become completely absorbed by an activity that offers them joy and fills them with energy.


uni mm ty

AUTONOMY IN LEARNING Authentic and performant learning is a process lead by each individual, a process that can be supported but not determined by external factors. Each student makes his own choices, supported by over 100 hours of counseling, mentoring and coaching. Each one of them learns things truly relevant for his objectives, gets to know himself better and develops in his own

style and rhythm. Learning is intrinsically motivated by curiosity, pleasure and will to develop. This type of motivation leads to a more efficient and profound learning. Autonomous learning adapts dynamically to what each student learns about himself and the world.

COMMUNITY AND COLLABORATION The Community of Practice involves the process of social learning that happens when people with the same interest for a domain collaborate during an extended period of time in order to pool ideas, expertise and knowledge, to find solutions and to build innovations. The members of our communities are students as well as over 100 professionals with



broad experience in the business field, willing to contribute to teach younger colleagues. The community is driven by over 100 events per year, an online platform, a social game and a friendly physical space.

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IMPACT IN SOCIETY At the Alternative University, students learn through real projects that make a difference. We noticed that learning is more effective, more relevant and lasting if its starting point is a specific issue from the real world. This is why we believe that in order to learn something you need to practice in a project you really care about. We recommend that the first learning environment is a volunteer-based one.

The Alternative University facilitates the access to practical experiences through Rent a Team, a program that intermediates the relationship between students and the business environment, helping them get internships in one of the 50 companies that are partners of the University, or through the Business Incubator.

LEARNING ENVIRONMENT The learning environment really makes a difference. We invest time and energy to create the perfect mix between an accessible and friendly physical space full of resources, an active virtual environment that keeps us connected and where we can keep the communities’ knowledge and a social environment based on trust, friendship and collaboration. 9

stages of development


your customized path We are often asked “How much time does it take?”. “digital badge” that has the purpose of being a key to The short answer is “3 years”. Actually, we believe the next phase. There are four phases and four gates that learning is a relatively nonlinear path that needs that will be explained further. to take each individual in consideration, as well as the rhythm and the context he is in. However, we identified certain circumstances and experiences that the young people we work with went through. We call them stages of development. They remain customized and each one of them goes through them in their own rhythm. Their purpose is to help you navigate more easily through the bigger picture of your development. This way, you can give each phase the proper attention and it helps us support you during your development with the right experiences. In this model, the search is as important as the development. Going through a phase is conditioned by earning a





The Gate to Exploration

Exploration Active search In the exploration phase you test and experiment. You get to know yourself, you map your interests and the reality as you perceive it. You look for something that’s of interest for you and a place to practice it. If you have an idea regarding what you would like to do, just go and try if for yourself. In general, you don’t commit more than 3 months. You want to meet as many people as possible, you volunteer in different teams, you choose an organization to understand and commit to. In this phase we recommend you to read different books, blogs, articles, as well as having an autonomy in learning counselor, participate in the Alternative University’s events (Camp, The Game, Guest of the Week), go to conferences, volunteer in different projects and talk to a lot of people.

Another active search In the transition phase, you often move past the volunteering and NGO level and you can choose a workplace, become a freelancer or start a business. Through different learning experiences you define what you are looking for, talk to many people about your orientation, know companies and teams, go to interviews, choose a job, an internship or a management trainee program. The learning experiences that support this process are Rent a Team - if you want to consolidate your network and improve your portfolio, mentoring - if you need professional acceleration and orientation, internships - if you want to know different companies and see which environment suits you best. If you wish to become an entrepreneur, then you can start your business in the Business Incubator.

The Gate to Transition 12 12


The Gate to Action

ACTION In action The “action� phase takes place in an environment that allows you to make mistakes, where you have freedom and which is designed especially to accelerate your progress. It can be an NGO or a personal project. Commitments aren’t just exercises, they really represent you and they are things you truly care about. During this phase, that can last 2-4 years, you gain experience to consolidate or invalidate your choices and you develop a relevant portfolio with valuable experiences for your learning process. The recommended experiences during this phase are the ones that help you develop skills and the ones that imply social learning (intensive courses, trainings, workshops, Camp). You can be part of a Community of Practice or you can start a new learning group.

10.000 hours to mastery In this phase you are a reflective practitioner, constantly getting better, going deeper in your field of interest, make yourself known in the professional community you belong, get results, gain experience and professional maturity. This is a phase where, in relation to the Alternative University, you are a resource for other people and your development is sustained through this role and through your contact with other professionals in their mastery phase.

The Gate to Mastery

Mastery 13

individual support


If you conquer yourself, then you conquer the world.” Paulo Coelho



Counseling for autonomy in learning What is it? A process in which each member of the community gets to take responsibility for his own education and proficiently run his development process. The counselors are students of the Alternative University for minimum 1 year and went through a preparation program in counseling for autonomy in learning. On average, there are 14 one to one sessions of counseling, each lasting 1.5 hours. The benefits of the counseling program are seen in an increase in discipline, focus, develop various strategies and instruments to help the learning process. This represents an improvement in self directed learning.

Counseling for autonomy in learning helped me discover a learning opportunity in any activity, to see what I learned from each experience I had, and most importantly, it helped me realize that I myself can create opportunities to learn what I want. What and how I learn is solely up to me!” Raluca Grigore

I entered the program without a clear picture of what I was going to do later on. I started by answering the question: “Who am I really?”. This is how I discovered what my values are, what models I have and what motivates me. With every meeting my projection in time became more crystallized. Another eye opener was discovering all the resources around me. Even now I’m not using all of them but I am aware of their existence and the possibility of accessing them whenever I need. You end up becoming solely responsible of your education and development, and this gives you a sense of freedom which is hard to describe.“

UA experiences intertwine in a special way, but I could say that autonomy in learning is what made me realize that the responsibility of who I am and what I will become is fully mine.”

What do students say about it?

Ana Răducanu

Maximilian Dobrescu

It was a process of self discovery with many pleasant surprises. I learned to learn and learned about myself how I work, what makes me productive, why I do certain things and don’t do others. I learned to choose better for myself. I was asked once how I see myself in 10 years, if I will maintain this attitude towards learning. I believe I will be able to adapt to anything and thus develop myself. I see learning goals like a tree that grows in several directions.” Laura Stoia


Individual support

Coaching What is it? Coaching is an individual, non-directive process that supports people in reaching their personal development goals, in dealing with challenges and peak performance. The coaches are professionals who have gone through a training program in this area and are willing to work with young people. We recommend coaching especially in the Action and Mastery phases, but a coach can also help you when you are in the Exploration or Transition phases. The coaching program is permanently open; whenever you want to access a coach, we can help you find the one that suits your challenge.

What do the beneficiaries say? Each year, the coaching program was a life changing experience. It came as a support during the periods I mostly needed it and it helped me turn the focus towards myself. I asked questions and found solutions to personal and professional problems. Through coaching I managed to take a break from the day-to-day life and recalibrate my energy towards the things that make me happy. “

Georgiana Floroiu

Coaching helped me find out who I am as an individual, where I want to go and how to get there. It is a complex process that starts from an analysis based on the individual in relation to himself and helps him understand his choices in various aspects of his life. This approach offered me a peaceful moment where I had the freedom to explore and understand myself. it’s the most effective way to get practical results and to achieve balance in life.”

Coaching with Gabi is different from what I experienced until now. I was a bit reserved at first because I knew the classic questionstructure. I didn’t like it and I didn’t think it was suitable for me. With Gabi it’s about generative coaching and this was the thing that made me choose her in this program. We don’t make a plan that I follow, we work at balancing the goals with what you are and what you want. For me, setting objectives means more than SMART, SMARTER, Deadline, Evaluation, Discipline. It is about you.“ Cristi Neacșu

“ “

What do the coaches say? In your mission to build an alternative university, you need healthy development experiences. I am convinced that experiences like coaching are not important but essential to set people in motion.” Alexandru Popa

The fact that you offer young people a space to ask fundamental questions in this evolution stage, regarding the path they choose in life, makes me feel even closer to you. I am thrilled by your energy and openness. It was a wonderful challenge that reconnected me to my passion of working with young people.”

Gabriela Bujor

My biggest passion is working with young people. It was so much fun and we used a lot of new, creative techniques that worked wonderfully with them.” Andreea Voroneanu

Raluca Bercea

Individual support


Mentoring What is it? It is a process that involves an experienced professional who guides a student in developing skills and professional values, offering new perspectives and pieces of information, as well as access to resources and relevant experiences.

stay connected. Nobody forces you, nobody needs to motivate you.

Mentors are professionals with at least 5 years of experience in human resources, communication, management and entrepreneurship, education and professional training or sales. During the year you’ll meet potential mentors and you can approach them and ask them to be your mentor.

We recommend mentoring especially in the transition phase, but it is also possible that a mentor can help you during the action and mastery phases.

For me, this created a discipline and made me realize how important a result or an objective is.” Cristi Neacșu

Marian Stas is a very open person, who manages to make you feel comfortable and lets you speak your mind.

I think the way he talks about things makes him different. Some people said that he talks in metaphors and I started noticing this. I like that he can talk about practical stuff and integrate them in a whole. It is a special feeling to know that you have someone by your side, someone competent and trustworthy, with whom you share a common set of values and principles and who guides you in the process of your professional achievement.”

As a learning method, one to one talks suit me extremely well. I manage to extract a lot of value from them because I am the one who leads the process. It is the main reason I chose this program. Furthermore, mentoring comes with a special ingredient: inspiration.

What do the beneficiaries say? My mentor is the kind of person who inspires trust and professionalism. Catalin Caia is the kind of mentor you read about in books: he tells you a lot, but he also lets you discover. He doesn’t give you everything as it is, but he lets you see piece by piece and then send you to solve the puzzle. In a mentoring relationship, the ball is in your field and many times you need a very powerful drive to


Teodora Ioan

One of our guests from Guest of the Week program, Viorel Panaite, said that when you choose a mentor, it’s better for him to be a complementary person and not one that resembles you. Then, the learning process is accelerated and there are bigger chances for you to develop.”

Individual support

Maximilian Dobrescu

Personal Branding and Networking What is it? Along your way as a student at the Alternative University you will be supported and encouraged to keep a learning journal, build a portfolio, earn the digital micro-certificates you need, develop a powerful virtual presence and connect to people who can facilitate access to different opportunities. The micro-certificate system can guide you in the 5 specific domains, regarding the other soft skills that you need, as well as regarding the life skills and other achievements you can aim for. To encourage networking and personal branding, we organize a workshop dedicated to this subject, where we invite speakers, trainers, we offer feedback and share experience. The workshop encourages and supports you to have a personal blog and a rich online presence, to participate to conferences and be active in your social networks.

In a world where the new business cards are Google searches and awareness, and the professional network often weighs more than an university diploma, personal branding should be every professional’s basic concern. Personal branding isn’t just for multinational CEOs and entrepreneurs, but it is becoming a necessity to each person who wants to be found, recognized and paid for what he knows best.” Paul Olteanu The Personal marketing Agency

Why do we think this is important?

In these two and a half years, I defined my learning needs regarding Human Resources and I created contexts in order to cover them through the Alternative University programs and by taking other challenges (NGOs, job). As an alternative student, I started trusting myself that I can finish everything I have in mind and that I am a valuable person.” Bianca Panţuru

Views and opinions about you are made inevitably and, many times, without anyone noticing it. When you become aware of the personal image beyond the clothes you wear, then the personal branding term appears.”

Individual support

Sergiu Bîcă Friends Advertising


communities of practice



Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up. “ Oliver Wendell Holmes


Communities of practice

Within the Alternative University, we have created Communities of Practice as equivalents of different study fields from a common University. These Communities cover large fields of interest, such as Human Resources, New Media and Communication, Entrepreneurship and Management, Education and Sales. A student can be part of more than one community. Annually, students belonging to a certain Community of Practice, gather to define the topics they want to develop in courses, trainings, study groups or meetings for sharing experience. These new topics add to the curricula established by the University team along with its educational partners. The Community is autonomous also beyond establishing new topics for study – community members set their own affiliation criteria, rules for interaction, possibilities for creating new projects and resource usage.

environment for learning and facilitate monthly meetings. This core group of students participate in an intensive course on “Community Building & Art of Hosting”.

In the Community of Practice focusing on education, you are always connected to the latest news in the field. We know the topics that interest others so, we choose wisely the information we share. What I love most are the meetings – once we discovered that all of us are interested in designing learning experiences, we chose to transform each meeting in a practice: at each meeting, two of us are both designers and facilitators for that topic.”

Each community has a core group of 3 to 7 members who ensure the social and online interaction between members, create a productive


Community and collaboration

Maximilian Dobrescu

Dependence ->Independence -> Interdependence In a common University, the learning process is made in groups but, each student and the entire group, depend on the decisions taken by the University. Through autonomy in learning each student becomes independent, taking control over what, how and why he learns. Being a part of self-organized communities, he reaches the next level – interdependency between various other independent students.

Our communities are a blend between “communities of practice” designed by Etienne Wenger, a learning theory called “connectivism” and the democratic schools model. Communities of Practice (CoPs) are a form of organization in which a group of people who act in a professional environment reunite to share experiences and train together in solving new challenges appeared in the field. Etienne Wenger defines 3 elements as essential for the existence of a CoP: • Field: Area of interest that creates the common goal and guides the learning process; • Community: social relations created between members who support each other in sharing the knowledge; • Practices: focused areas around which the community is developed, sharing and concentrating the knowledge.; “Connectivism” states that in the current context, highly characterized by technology, the capacity to be permanently connected for gathering new information is more important than the actual knowledge in a certain point in time. Democratic education promotes self-determination in a community built around equal individuals, based on fairness, respect and trust.

This year, HRemotion Community had a different approach: it was built and supported by alternative students in collaboration with HR practitioners. Now we have a core group that prepares the community’s meetings. This new approach helped me discover a group of professionals, very well prepared in my area of interest, with whom I can share knowledge, talk about our experiences or discover new challenges. This community is also the place where I can contribute for the development of other HR professionals, where I can grow as a specialist and get relevant feedback for my ideas. I feel that here, I can truly learn from well prepared people, have the opportunity to create my own learning environment and build beautiful and strong relationships with people who share my passion.” Raluca Grigore

I like it that we put into practice what was taught during classes in school about organizational culture. This way, we can have a clearer picture about what this means in the context of a company. For me, it’s more than a project, it’s a way to channel my energy towards something productive and enjoy the opportunity of working with two girls as passionate and enthusiast as me.” Larisa Oprescu

Community and collaboration


Trainings and Intensive Courses Trainings vs. Courses

Steps of course development

A training is a condensed experience which lasts from 4 hours up to 3 full days. Unlike a training, a course implies at least 6 meetings across a 2 months’ period. This architecture puts value on the time between meetings in which students connect with the practical component. Courses are targeted to the students who want to learn more thoroughly about a subject for 2-4 months and with direct applicability in real projects.Given the intensive nature of the courses, each student can choose at most one course each semester. The annual calendar contains 25 trainings and 40 courses carefully selected together with our educational partners. The teachers are experienced practitioners or professional trainers. The courses are offered by renowned Romanian organisations such as Achieve Global, Human Invest, Interact, DoR, Friends for Friends Foundation.

Forming the learning group Setting the goals andexpectations Conducting the course + practical activities Self-assessment in groups and evaluation stage

What makes a course function?

The Online Strategies course is one of the best learning experiences I’ve recently had. It is not at all what you would expect when you see the word ‘course’ in front - in the beginning we established the discussion themes with the teacher, and during meetings, we, the five participants from group, talk approximately 70% of the time. We learn the most through the questions that we receive, questions that make us acknowledge ourselves something that could have been taught through classic methods. And the fact that we find out by ourselves what it is all about makes us remember the information much easily. All in all, the experience of the courses is great!”

• Participants to want to deepen their knowledge in a specific subject, in parallel with the opportunity of putting it into practice. • All participants to be willing to dedicate enough time, both in the individual learning process and in the group one. This means investing the necessary amount of time to put things into practice and reflect upon what happened, in order to bring your new perspectives to the learning group. • All participants to the course, including the teacher, to negociate their expectations regarding the results of the course and to decide about what they should be focusing their energy on during this time.

Mircea Grecescu


Community and collaboration

Open Badges What is it? The Alternative University implemented a system for digital micro-certificates (Mozilla Open Badges) through which it evaluates and recognizes acquiring a skill or a set of abilities. Each field has its own set of micro-certificates.+

Micro-certificates system will be in a testing phase in the period 2014-2015 and will provide 7 different badges. New badges will be added to the list in accordance with the needs of each community. The seven digital micro-certificates are: Volunteer Legacy The Element seeker Collaborative Team Worker Agile Self Directed Learner Rookie Project manager Aware Graphic Designer

Micro-certificates help in three ways: Orientation The micro-certificates system signalizes important skills in a certain field and provides a framework for students to better identify the ones they need to develop. Feedback With this set of evaluation criteria, students can obtain feedback from key people in each community. Applying for a certificate requires feedback that helps in the latter development of that skill. Transfer of trust Digital certificates are transparent and can be displayed on blogs, LinkedIn or resumes. This badge provides assurance that the student owning it has acquired that certain skill.


This is creating an ecosystem that lets people verify information and recognize learning that happens anywhere and turn that into something valuable for schools, jobs and communities.� Mozilla Open Badges

Comunitate colaborare Community Ĺ&#x;i and collaboration


Sharing day What is it?

Exemple: Education community

Practice communities from the Alternative University are ways of self-organizing for the students that are interested in the same field. At least one monthly meeting takes place in each community. Within a meeting, the community members share their achievements and challenges, help each other, exchange resources or create solutions and find instruments. The topics are chosen by the participants and they are scheduled so that the ideas discussed match the practical activities. The meetings are hosted by one of the community members. The hosts of the meeting are formed during an intensive course about community practices and the art of hosting. Between the monthly meetings, the members of the communities organize also other thematic meetings, movie nights, systems of sharing resources.

A personal perspective

It is an experience where we talk for real about the things we have made and that we do for real. We talk about things that went well or not, how other organizations did some things, ideas that I have in my mind and I want to apply them in organization, things I have put in practice and at some point reached a tight spot I can’t get through and I need creative solutions and smart questions. For me, the things were a communication campaign, organizational branding, research, Facebook, blog article, site, a small logo, a tweet, anything like that.” Ioana Cepoi


Education community was built in November 2013 when 21 of the students from Alternative University replied to the invitation of taking part in this. Four of them offered to be part of the core, 8 of them offered to be members and other 9 members to be explorers. First meeting was about knowing each other and organizing. Everyone told what he has done until now in education and what attracted him in this field. Then, there were gathered the subjects that members wanted to learn about. There were 34 subjects such as: education through playing, design of learning experiences, how to evaluate the impact, technology in education, learning environment, etc Then we made the plan for the next activities. There have been established the dates of the next monthly meetings and the teams of two people that would organize and facilitate them. In addition we established that we have a Google Group and a Wiki (Delia is taking care of it), we try a Google + Community (Ana R.), (Maxi), WhatsApp (Ana S.). We also planned a teambuilding (Silvia& Aura), a job shadowing program between us, find it a name, organize a course of critical thinking in education and that we meet every Thursday at the CROS Café. After the first two months, the community had two meetings, a teambuilding, scores of messages on Google+ Community on WhatsApp and a selforganized course.

Community and collaboration Comunitate şi colaborare

Workshops and learning groups What is it? At the Alternative University we encourage the spontaneous initiatives of the students, collaborators and partners. So, the schedule with courses and trainings is doubled by a significant number of workshops and learning groups initiated spontaneously. The workshops are a way of learning where groups of 3 to 30 students are self-organizing and create their own learning experiences, from very specific needs, but in the same interest area. Community members are 100% in control regarding the initiation or the development of these workshops.

How we help you? First of all, you are given the space, the materials and the equipment. Then, we offer you a guide for organizing and facilitating of workshops and the groups. We created this guide after having a 2 years experience with this format. And if you need, a member of the team can help you with the design or facilitation of the workshop.

Exemple Public speaking It was consisted of case studies, debate contests, recorded presentations + feedback, simulation of radio broadcast and resources recommendations.

Gamification It has started as a study group in the same time with a course on Coursera having the same theme and evolved as a series of projects that used game dynamics in learning, team management and design of transformative projects.

Storytelling Is a group built for working and sharing resources. Until now it has brought a lot of guests to meeting and generated a series of projects for narrative writing.

Community and collaboration


the community for students passionate about human resources

The sphere of activity


It is the community of practice which focuses on human resources specific areas, ranging from recruitment and selection, to motivation and performance management. It is addressed to those passionate about working with people in developing groups and organisations, such as HR coordinators, trainers, facilitators, etc.

HRemotion is the first community that we launched, in 2008. The majority of the active members in the community are volunteers in youth NGOs and are responsible for the HR departments and processes within those NGOs. The community is supported by HR professionals with more than 10 years’ experience in the field, which contribute (as mentors, trainers, teachers, guests) with their experience and knowledge.

Since 2012 we have been using HR Profession map as a reference, developed by the Chartered Institute for Development of Personnel.

Trainings and courses The topics approached by this learning community in the past few years belong to the new wave of human resources : Learning (in) Organizations Overview on HR Organizational Culture Resourcing and Talent Planing Integrating New Members Engaging People Performance and Rewards Leading HR (Strategy)

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Examples of mentors, teachers and guests: • Roxana Mocanu - Founder and CEO HR Enterprize; • Mihai Zant, Training and Recruitment Manager Apa Nova, Veolia; • Tibi Borza, ex-Recruitment Specialist L’Oreal, entrepreneur; • Luminita Keles, Employer Branding Manager JTI Romania; • Diana Rosetka - General Manager United Business Developement (AchieveGlobal, KT, ROI) Students who have reached the mastery stage in this field usually become HR coordinators in companies or have launched projects and training and development organizations, such as Bulent Duagi - HR Business Partner Vodafone Romania or Corina Anghel - founder

the community for students passionate about communication in alternative environments

The sphere of activity

The Community

New Media School targets students passionate about experimenting new communication environments and willing to perfect their abilities and methods specific to this domain, from narrative journalism to social marketing and multimedia creation. Among technologies and environments studied are social networks, online collaboration platforms, photo, video, digital graphics, etc.

New Media School was founded in 2009 at the crossroad of our interests for digital communication and branding. The active members of the community are usually responsible for building the brand of the student NGOs they are part of and for projects and communication campaigns. This community is supported by creative minds from advertising agencies and PR and marketing professionals working in companies/multinationals - they all contribute as mentors, trainers, teachers and guests with their own experience and knowledge. Some examples are:

Trainings and courses The subjects on which the community has been focusing so far are: One minute video for web

• •


• •

Graphic Design

Digital Marketing Branding (in) Organizations Narrative Writing and Storytelling How to Create a Campaign Concept Creative Copywriting

Mircea Staiculescu, Managing Director Headvertising; Bogdan Theodor Olteanu, Communication consultant @ Bortun-Olteanu; Tudor Totolici, Online Marketing Consultant; Tedy Necula, Director and Founder Filmmaking. ro; Cristi Lupsa, Editor Decat o Revista.

Students who have reached the mastery phase on this subject coordinate communication departments, work as freelancers in photography or communication consultancy, are interns in communication departments or in advertising agencies or are opening their own business in the field, such as: Delia Mija - Art Director ILeo Interactive Marketing, Andrei Cojan - Photographer, Larisa Stinga - Photographer, Andrei Lasc - founder creation boutique, Andra Berila and Bogdan Crivoi - founders 2D animation studio.


the community for students passionate about organizational development

The sphere of activity

The Community

SyncerSchool approaches themes related to management and leadership and helps students support the development of organizations. The community is especially designed for leaders of youth organizations and for young entrepreneurs interested in the way they lead NGOs or companies in their effort of making them more profitable, sustainable, ethical and agile.

The SyncerSchool community appeared in 2012, inspired by the need of a growing group of NGO leaders (presidents, project managers, department coordinators), some entrepreneurs and some alumni passionate about organizational development to deeper study this field. Examples of mentors, teachers and invitees: •

Courses and Trainings During the first year, this community’s subjects of interest were:

• • •

Team Dynamics Business Model Generation Lean Startup Project Management Six Sigma and Process Thinking Leadership 101 Financial Literacy for Managers Strategic Thinking


Catalin Caia – Regional Business Manager, Xerox Corporation; Alex Ghita – EDUCATIVA President; Marian Stas – Consultant in Education and Founder of Win-Win Consulting; Oana Toiu – Executive Director, K Consulting Management and Coordination; Diana Rosetka – General Manager, AchieveGlobal, KT ROI.

SyncerSchool consists of students who lead NGOs or start their own social businesses - worthy mentions are 3 alternative schools founded by our students (a music school, a football school and a democratic highschool) and a web-design boutique.

Communities that are still in the forming phase Education the purpose of education is to

Starting with the autumn of 2013 the Alternative University has been witnessing the appearence & growth of a learning community dedicated to education (lifelong learning, transforming the educational system, entrepreneurship in education and innovation in education). The community has at its core knowledge and principles of alternative and non-formal education and powerful connections to an extended network of experts and organizations (both Romanian and international).

Exemple de membri ai comunității de educaţie: • • • • • •

Ana Raducanu – Restart-Edu community builder; Ana Spaiuc – History teacher; Maximilian Dobrescu – entrepreneur in education through sport; Delia Gologan; Violeta Serbu – PhD in Science Education; Traian Bruma – education architect, CROS founder.


Courses and Trainings

$ $

Facilitating Learning in Group Learning Experience Design Digital Technology for Learning How People Learn Transforming Education & Society; Alternative Education Learning Tools Learning Theories The architecture of learning environments

More and more people around us are concerned to bring new products and services to help other people. This is why there is a need of a very powerful and healthy connection between the creators and developers of the product or service and the users. The question that stands at the core of the Sales Community is how to create healthy relationships between the creators and the beneficiaries.

Courses and Trainings

The Community

Selling: Process & Techniques Listening, asking questions & exercising empathy

Examples of mentors, teachers and invitees in 20132014: • • • • • •

Andrei Popescu – ANPCDEFP Coordinator; Elisabeta Stanciulescu – Sociology of Education Professor; Alex Ghita – EDUCATIVA President; Marian Stas – Consultant in Education and Founder of Win-Win Consulting; Ionut Soleanicov – CEO Teach for Romania; Cristina Dinu Popa – Jukava Founder

Growing Relationships Negociating win-win Networking & Personal Branding Exemple persoane-resursă în 2013-2014: • • • •

Alexandru Arama – Head of Retail, Unicredit Leasing; Dragos Nicolaescu – CEO, Visionary Business Consultants; Catalin Caia – Regional Business Manager, Xerox Corporation; Olga Oltean.


impact in society



Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey


You challenge yourself and learn from your experience What is it? In order for your learning process to have energy, to be practical and relevant, we help you identify your challenge in the current projects or to redefine them so they do challenge you. We believe that NGOs for students are excellent environments where you can challenge yourself and when the experience in the Alternative University connects with the volunteering experience the result is spectacular. This is the reason why we will create the activities in the Alternative University so that they support your practical experience in the NGO as well as your results there. The same thing applies in the situation where you have a challenging job. Volunteering in the Alternative University’s or in a Rent-a-team project, getting an internship or opening your business in the University’s Business Incubator are other options for you to find the challenge you need to develop yourself. The Alternative University’s team will make sure, through conversations and meetings during the year, how and in what way you challenge yourself and how can you harness the environment here to help you overcome your challenges.

Non-profit organization partners

This year, I celebrate 4 years of active participation in NGOs and many times I take a while to think about all these years and see where I started, what I had back then, what I have now and more importantly what I have learned. The Alternative University is the environment where learning happened in the most natural way possible, because it came from my motivation and the interaction with others, a conscious and continuous learning process. I learned so much about myself, about what I want from myself as well as from the other students here and about the things that I’m passionate about. Here, I also learned everything I didn’t learn at school, because I found “teachers” that used a lot of practice in the learning process, I learned from other students, I shared experiences and I was always inspired by the members of the community.” Alexandra Chiru


Impact in society

Internship What is it? During the “Transition” Period is possible that you want to find an organization or a company that suits you well. For this, we can recommend you an internship for a few months in one of the partner organizations. You will have a session for career guidance with one of the members of the Alternative University Team, that will help you clarify what your need. Then, we will search an internship program that suits you well.

The program The internship program will be opened during the University year and it has the purpose to offer you the opportunities and a way to get directly in contact with organizations or companies where you would like to work. We will follow this objective through three types of activities: Gathering and posting the companies offers

Guidance for choosing the opportunities that suits you

Your connection with organizations where you would like to do an internship

sub-office where we used to gather and order some food. I learned from each of them and from friends of DoR what narrative journalism is, why is the story so important and how to present it to the readers. Monday evenings were dedicated to the meetings from StoryClub where we discussed subjects from International press. I experienced the way in which an interview is made. The majority of things was learned while working.”

Andra Rotaru

As a professional, I learned how important is to understand the market place, from the quality and quantity points of view, how important is the communication with the people that work on the position that you are recruiting for and what expectations has a young man like me from the first job.” Ovidiu Condurache


At DoR it was about “apprenticeship”. It carried me in more directions: from editorial activity to support for organizing the events. I used to explore the Bucharest weekly and in this way I discovered places where I go more often now.


“How are they? What do you have to do at DoR?” I smiled every time they asked me these questions and I answered: “They let me do exactly what they are doing”. We interacted freely from the beginning, the editorial office was a room where discussions on every field had a great flow and we continued them at the

Apart from the main partners of the Alternative University we can recommend and facilitate the internship program in one of the over 50 companies we are in contact with.

Impact in society


Rent a Team What is it?

Examples of projects

Rent a Team offers students access to different projects within companies, where they can get involved according to their skills and interests.

In 2013-2014 there were 14 projects where 42 students got involved.

Every team of students is self organized, but also has an advisor from the University that helps intermediate the relationship with the client and gives feedback to the team when necessary. In most of the Rent a Team projects, the teams are paid.

Rent a Team projects can be related to communication campaigns, recruiting campaigns, filming, movie editing, photography or practical workshops.

Organizing an event for 300 children and 500 adults • • •

Creating an identity (name and slogan) for an internship program within a multinational company. • Team - 5 people • Timeline - 2 weeks • Payment: 120 euro/person

The project represented my first work experience, using the knowledge I gained form the NGO environment. It trained my flexibility, patience, attention to details and it also tested my emotions. Sometimes, multitasking was an understatement – I needed to work fast and precise. The project put me in contact with all level managers and I understood how to approach them and how to adapt to their needs. I had the opportunity to test what are the advantages and disadvantages of working in a corporation. I understood how I needed to behave in a professional environment and what the expectations in this context are. I met professionals who took me under their wing and taught me tips and tricks. It was awesome that everyone there saw young professionals in us, they saw us as grown-ups, equals, capable to take big responsibilities and challenges. With these professionals I still keep in touch and we remained close friends. Most importantly, I filled my lists with “things that I never want to do” and “things that suit me”. Cătălina Bericov, recruitment project


Team - 5 people Timeline - 3 weeks Payment: 300 euro/person

Organizational development and culture change consultancy • • •

Team - 4 people Timeline - 6 months (6 hours a month) Payment - There was none Filming and editing 40 video interviews with the employees of a company

• • •

Team - 3 people Timeline - 100 hours Payment: 200-600 euro/person depending on the complexity of the task and the time invested Implementing a recruitment campaign

• • •

Team - 4 people Timeline - 3 months, full-time Payment: 450 euro / month / person Creating the concept and implementing an online and offline communication campaign

• • •

Team - 4 people Timeline - 12 working days/ person/ 3 months Payment: 600 euro / person

Impact in society

Business Incubator What is it?

Incubator in 2013-2014

Business incubator is a program that offers you the framework and the resources for testing and implementing your business idea.

ING Bank offers 20.000 euro for investment and also mentors from the bank for 8 businesses.

For about 6 months, the incubator offers resources in a progressive way, helping you develop the basic skills so that you can manage to get from the idea to a viable startup.

It generated 33 ideas of businesses in the ideation phase.

1. Ideation “Ideation� is the phase which inspires you, helps you find the business idea that suits you and helps you form the reflex of identifying and create business ideas around you.

It brought together 20 businesses and 6 persons from the ING Bank board in an intensive Bootcamp of two days.

2. Business Planning This step is the one where you can test your idea with possible clients, following the frame of a business plan, your will make research in the marketplace, you will clarify the way your business model looks like and you will gather your team. In the end, you will have a business plan that you can present and you can refer to every time you improve your idea.

It supported the development of 11 business plans and 11 video presentations for the ideas that reached the phase of the Start-up.

Examples of businesses from the incubator

3. Start-up During the Start-up phase you will work intensively at your business and, proportional with your involvement, you will have more resources. Now, the firms will be legally founded, there will be created presentation materials, the first products will be created and sold. During this step the businesses from the incubator will have their mentors and they will look forward to obtaining funds from angel investing and crowdfunding campaigns.

Tikof, online shop for tea and coffee

4. Growth illu, personalized clothes accessories shop This is the stage where you will guide your idea from a start-up to sustainable developing business. Now you will create the strategy of your business for a long term, analyzing the evolution from the previous months of incubating. Skeptic Dog Animation- 2D animation studio

Impact in society


learning environment



Given a rich environment, learning becomes like the air. “ Sandra Dodd


The Game The Game is a social game in which the whole community participates. Its purpose is to develop the community and the relationships between individuals as well as cultivating a friendly and trustworthy atmosphere in UA.


Houses All members, including team UA, belong to one of the 7 houses. Every house has the mission to create interaction between members of the community, to stimulate collaboration and mutual support and to cultivate authentic relationships. Because of this reason, members of the houses will be mixed both in terms of their development level and the learning community they are part of.

Relating Reward each connection that is creating among us: an evening in which we tell memories, befriending with all members on facebook etc. Learning

Nutella Spankers

Bubble Boo

Grifonii 2.0


Ninja Minions


Playing For challenges that incite to play and fun, makes us laugh and compete in all imaginable competitions.

Wonder House

Challenges and Playing Day


Every month, a Saturday is dedicated to playing. At Playing Day every house receives and chooses new challenges for the next month and the score for each house is announced. The rest of the day is an open space for the challenges of the houses, for board games, olympics, competitions and socializing.

For each gift you give by heart: it can be a good word, a shared resource or a surprise on someone’s birthday.

Both challenges and scores are divided into the 5 attitudes that we cultivate in the Alternative University.


For the challenges that stir your curiosity and nourish the desire for learning and developing.

Dreaming For challenges that makes us aim higher, have ambitious objectives and take action to fulfill our dreams.

Learning environment

CAMP What happens there? Without ruining the surprise, we can tell you that during the six days of CAMP participants have the opportunity to: Is a 6 day camp which marks the start of the year for the members of the community together with 50 experienced professionals. The CAMP atmosphere takes students into a world in which they get challenged to take responsibility for their own development, discover themselves, rediscover playing, intrinsic motivation and passion, and where they are encouraged to dream and to practice the reflex of giving before asking.

15 30 40 Presentations Workshops Live books 80 Coaching Sessions

150 Initiatory Journeys

150 participants

50 Games

Memorable conversations

50 mentors, coachs, facilitators, guests

Part of the “magic” is the diversity of the people who meet in the fairytale atmosphere of the CAMP. NGO leaders meet young professionals with volunteer experience, organizational development and communication consultants, successful entrepreneurs, professional coaches, CEOs, education experts or inspiring entrepreneurs. Around 150 people attend CROS camp.

Members from all stages attend CAMP. This event is designed, among other things, to bring together the whole community.

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The 5 attitudes

Each day in CROS CAMP is designed around experiencing a core attitude of the learning model (the same attitudes part of “The Game”). In the 6 days students experience most of the learning processes which they will later experience during the alternative year.


I haven’t experience the sensation of a camp, in the true meaning of the word, in about 8 years. I thought my time for such things had passed. But in CROS CAMP 2011 it was proved that time for these things never actually passes.”

Tedy Necula

Back from CROS CAMP. It was lifechanging. I feel like a different person, a happier one, more optimistic, ready to face every day with a big smile on his face. :) Thank you!” Adriana Anchidin

Learning environment


Our partners Our partners are the ones with whom we are creating the alternative learning model. Each of them contribute to your experience to the Alternative University through their employees that are part of the communities, through educational support at the highest level, offering internship programs, Rent-a-team and financial support.


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Educational partners and friends

Advanced Thinking Innovation



I want to thank all of you at CROS for your vision, belief and determination. I sincerely believe in what you are doing and I know you are, and will continue to be, an inspiration to many students and to your fellow countrymen. Neil Coupland - Managerul General al Anului 2011 în România

The Alternative University as a proof that we can change the world, that we can be who we want, that we can dream. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this inspired community.” Ana Silivaș Life-Coach and alternative student since 2012

The results that I got are that I became a better person during the interactions, balanced my learning process and brought a scale into my life. Very importantly, I figured out I am very visual-oriented in the learning process. I fed my passions and I enjoy life.” Valentin Sava - AIESEC Alumnus and Member in NewMediaSchool since 2011

The students leave this place changed. With a changed mentality and with a different way to approach things. I think this matters the most in their groups, the fact thet they were changed by experience and not by the theory they learned here.” Tudor Totolici Online marketing consultant and Entrepreneur

I entered the program without having a clear image about what I am going to do later. I started by answering the question “Who am I?”. This is how I found out what my values are, what are the my models and my motivations. With every meeting I had, my projection in time crystalized. You become the only responsible for your learning and development, and this gives you a sense of liberty hard to describe.” Maximilian Dobrescu VIP and HRemotion Member since 2011

There are a few essential things in the Alternative University, that made me contribute to this project as much as I can: the idea of freedom in learning, facilitating the process of finding your calling, as well as the fact that there are no negative elements like in the classical educational system. I really believe in this project and I figured this out very clearly the moment I imagined being very satisfied if my son would choose to be a student here.”

Lucian Mihai Trainer, Partner Interact

In and through the Alternative University I learned that learning doesn’t mean to have straight A’s in a system that raises robots. I became sure that I need to grow in HR, I met a lot of wonderful people, with interesting ideas, enthusiasm and practical intelligence, who really do things to develop themselves, others and the community. I learned to learn by myself and with others, I was a part of great experiences.” Corina Anghel HR Counsultant and Founder, Member of HRemotion


The Alternative University showed me another world, one where I can contribute and do good stuff for others, use my talents and abilities for a greater good. The most important thing I learned and I am still learning at the Alternative University is that I am responsible for myself, for what I think, for what I learn and for what relationships I create.” Teodora Ioan SyncerSchool Member since 2012

If all the young people would be members of your practice communities, I am convinced Romania would have a brighter future and less people would think of leaving it.” Radu Mărgărit Senior Trainer - Human Capital Solutions

I encourage you to apply because this is the place where people believe in ideas. It is the place where you can be you, the place where you are encouraged to be different, to be creative and to grow exactly as you need. You will have a mentor, a coach and a lot of great trainings. Moreover, you’ll be encouraged by people you have a lot to learn from and who have answers, as well as questions.” Oana Pascu, AIESEC Vicepresident Switzerland in 2012-2013

My dream is to see this project accessed by as many people as possible. For some it will be an alternative option, for others it will be a complementary one.” Elisabeta Stănciulescu Education Sociologist and coach


I decided to support the Alternative University because I believe in their educational model. The Alternative University should be the first option for all the young people who want faculty to bring them value and help them become successful professionals. I hope the scolarships I offerhelp two young people maximize their potential and become leaders of tomorrow’s society. Romania’s change starts with Education!” Bogdan Georgescu Novel Ventures Founder, Ex managing Partner Colliers International

Autonomy in learning? Yes, I need it and it wasn’t easy for me to accept it. I figured out that, even though I am an independent person from many points of view and I always received encouragements to learn and do whatever I like, I didn’t find out how to REALLY learn. I am very confident in this program. For me, it started working since day 1.” Silvia Floarea Learnity Founder and SyncerSchool Member since 2012

Looking back at the birth and growth of the Alternative University, I trust in the value it brings for the new generation. I am very inspired by the passion of the University’s builders, by their long-term vision and by the attitude of collaboration that they impregnate all over the place. The Alternative University helped me grow in the HRemotion community, professionally and through the exceptional people I met here.” Bulent Duagi HR Business Partner Vodafone, HEemotion Member since 2009

Partners, sponsors and friends

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