Open Education & Open Innovation in the LearningSpaceShip 42 Berlin

Thanks to broad support from companies such as Volkswagen, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft, T-System and Capgemini, the school of the future will land in Berlin on December 1st, 2022

42 Wolfsburg/Berlin
4 min readNov 30, 2022

Dr. Max Senges, CEO und Headmaster, 42 Wolfsburg/Berlin

The crew of the Enterprise has the mission “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” With our LearningSpaceShip at 42 Berlin, we are vowed to advance into new educational galaxies, together with our students and partners.

Allow me to explain our LearningSpaceShip leitmotif regarding the opening of 42 Berlin: We see 42 as a learning space, which is designed to cultivate what has always been characterized as meaningful learning: above all else, curiosity-driven and playful, as well as social learning in a team. Unfortunately much of this curiosity — and the spirit of cooperative learning — is lost in traditional educational institutions, and too much focus is given to grades and certificates. From our point of view, educational institutions should be a place of inspiration, creativity, and discovery — a place where students can explore what they are made of.

The crew of the 42 Berlin LearningSpaceShip is getting ready for take off.

The digital world is driven mostly by efficiency and effectiveness. In contrast, education is about cultivating wisdom and generating a learning flow. The crew of 42 Wolfsburg / Berlin is dedicated to combining those two worlds in order to train a new generation of software talent.

“There are several aspects of the LearningSpaceShip at 42 Wolfsburg / Berlin that provide a very large company like Volkswagen learning opportunities through such a small organization,” says Ralph Linde, President of 42 Wolfsburg/Berlin & Head of the Volkswagen Group Academy. “At 42, you learn to be curious about emerging technologies and to explore and collaborate in a playful way.” As Volkswagen strives for cultural change, “we encourage the open mindset and knowledge-sharing that is inherent at 42,” says Linde. Like so many companies, the Volkswagen Group faces the major challenge of hiring qualified software engineers to drive the transformation from car manufacturer to mobility tech company.

Companies like Microsoft have also recognized that they need employees who are open — those who have a “growth mindset.”(Dweck) In other words, people who are willing to learn throughout life, especially from mistakes. People who have retained their curiosity and at the same time have the appropriate tech skills.

In cooperation with companies like Bayer, a new professional dimension arises for us too. How can we design technology in such a way that it helps us to remain healthy in the long term and to be able to detect and treat diseases at an early stage? The educational approach of the 42 not only lowers the threshold for training, but practical and future-oriented meta-skills are also taught — entrepreneurial mindset and responsible open innovation are promoted.

Our graduates are practical, excellent software developers and socially competent problem solvers. And best of all, they can prove it to any employer or potential start-up co-founder through their publicly available software portfolios and hundreds of peer feedbacks. Because today it is crucial what someone can do, not what qualifications he or she has.

Linkedin CEO Ryan Roslansky called the trend of employers looking for tangible proof of skills and traditional college degrees becoming less relevant the “Big Shift.” We made a conscious decision not to compromise the effectiveness and motivation of our approach by doing everything as standardized by the Minister of Education’s committees in order to become a state-recognized university. The politics in France has allowed our sister school (which offers the same curriculum) to give Bachelors and Masters. Consequently, those who care about such a degree can take advantage of this opportunity.

Screenshot from 42 Wolfsburg Opening video — May 2021

The question remains: why ‘SpaceShip’? On the one hand — of course — because our founders grounded us in the humoristic, sci-fi world of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. But also because space tech — and especially the Apollo Moon Missions — have fueled one of the biggest innovation momentum past World War II. Science Fiction invites us to dream up futures. In this sense, we see the 42 Berlin SpaceShip as inspiration, to house and educate pioneers at the turn of an era; techies and entrepreneurs who tackle the big challenges of our time.

Our LearningSpaceShip allows maximum freedom for personal development, and this freedom leads to intrinsically motivated and self-organized learning. Our non-profit cooperation model leads to fruitful partnerships with businesses. And our canon of values creates an open community in which all stakeholders learn responsibility, entrepreneurship and sustainable digitization.

Lastly we see ourselves as an open, progressive learning community; that’s why the learning materials that we develop are of course open source (OER). In this way, our partners, fellows and all other interested parties, can use our materials and contribute to further development.

We look forward to your interest in “hopping aboard” as a student, fellow or partner with us in the LearningSpaceShip at 42 Berlin.



42 Wolfsburg/Berlin

42 is an innovative, higher education software engineering school, sponsored by Volkswagen