Building Community Around a Massive Open Online Class (MOOC)

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Client Name
Presencing Institute

The Presencing Institute addresses the underlying causes of environmental, social, and economic problems on a global scale

"The BI team helped us create an innovative online community that reaches a global audience and connects change makers. We were able to think out of the box together and develop new ideas. Thank you for being great partners!"
Dr. Katrin Kaeufer
Executive Director
The Presencing Institute


The Presencing Institute (PI) and the U.School community we built has 46,500 members from over 150 countries, focused on solving society's most pressing problems through research, collaboration, spirituality and social technologies. One of its founders is Dr. C. Otto Scharmer, a Senior Lecturer at MIT, co-founder of the Global Wellbeing and Gross National Happiness (GNH) Lab and author of the bestselling books “Theory U.” and “Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies”.

PI’s mission is daunting and inspiring. Our challenge - build a community where participants can create, collaborate and share ideas and projects to solve local and global problems.


In the age of Facebook where people expect seamless communication and collaboration, we were charged with creating a community that provided a similar experience tailored specifically to online classes.


The U.School is comprised of U.Labs. Each U.Lab includes a Participant Directory. 


Each member has a profile with public and private information, including a log of their activity and preferences. Some of the ways people participate are to join Coaching Circles. These are groups of individuals who meet each week online.

The focus is on listening and supporting each person’s leadership challenges. The most recent U.Lab has over 800 Coaching Circles to choose from. Other ways to participate are Hubs, Discussion Boards and Prototypes.


Prototypes are projects that people join or subscribe to. This is where ideas turn into action. They are projects people start and receive feedback on before transitioning to the next steps of implementation. Within a Prototype members can respond to the idea, provide feedback, ‘like’ and subscribe.



U.Lab also features a Listening Assessment. Each week members are prompted to fill out a survey (listening assessment) that displays the level of engagement they had during that week as shown here.



The U.School community has grown to 46,500 participants from over 100 countries who have successfully created 4,600 Coaching Circles and 900 Prototypes. The 2015 U.Lab was a resounding success, with 1/3rd of surveyed respondents declaring the class "life changing."

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