Steve Blank on How to Teach Entrepreneurship

Steve Blank on How to Teach Entrepreneurship

Want to improve how you teach entrepreneurship? Steve has some ideas.


Steve Blank Talking about How to Teach Entrepreneurship

Before we get there though, with the fires raging along the West Coast of the US, one of which is stunningly close to Steve’s home, we wanted to send him, his family, and everyone affected by the fires, our best wishes.


Steve and I sat down, pre-pandemic, for an in-depth discussion on the state of entrepreneurship education and ways to improve it going forward.

Below I’ve written up a summary of half of our conversation: thoughts on how to teach entrepreneurship.

In an upcoming part two, I’ll summarize some of Steve’s ideas on creating a comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum, including:

  • The skills professors should teach their students, and 
  • Four courses Steve thinks are core to a robust entrepreneurship program

First, for anyone unfamiliar: Who is Steve Blank?

Forefather of Lean Startup

Entrepreneur, author, professor, an originator of evidence-based entrepreneurship, Steve Blank has developed or made famous some of the most recognizable approaches to entrepreneurship including: 

In addition, Steve has reimagined the way entrepreneurship is taught throughout the world with his Lean LaunchPad, NSF I-Corps, and Hacking for X (e.g. Recovery, Defense, Diplomacy, Impact, Energy, etc.) programs. 

In short, Steve has dramatically improved the way we practice and teach entrepreneurship.

Why Teaching Entrepreneurship is Hard

One of the very first topics that came up during our conversation was how we all can become more effective instructors.

Roughly 75% of college faculty are adjunct or non-tenure-track professors. Steve shared that as a practitioner, one of the challenges he faced was not what to teach, but how to teach:

There is usually very little onboarding in place to train professors in the most effective way to teach entrepreneurial lessons.”

While most of us are successful entrepreneurs or successful professors, very few of us are equally great at both.

Compounding the problem, Steve mentioned that there are so many kinds of entrepreneurship – small business, high tech, corporate, social, family business, etc.

With these challenges in mind, I asked Steve for recommendations to overcome them.

Steve’s Teaching Tips

Tip #1: Accept You Don’t Know Everything

“I see my mentors and other adjuncts and coaches make this mistake, in thinking your domain expertise is the expertise of entrepreneurship rather than a very narrow slice.”

When Steve first began teaching at UC Berkeley, he was paired with professor John Freeman who recommended he sit in on other instructors’ entrepreneurship courses. Steve mentioned, “the shock to my system, the discovery…there are different types of entrepreneurship.” 

Steve was a successful entrepreneur, but he wasn’t a successful small business, high tech, corporate, social, and lifestyle entrepreneur.

Each type of entrepreneurship has different goals and to be taught most effectively, requires a different approach and expertise. To illustrate his point, Steve mentioned that in high tech entrepreneurship, the first goal is to have a seed round that raises millions of dollars. In small business entrepreneurship, however, the first goal may be to make enough to fund a lifestyle and family.

It’s this diversity in objectives that can make effectively teaching innovation difficult and it was his realization that he didn’t know everything about every type of entrepreneurship that led Steve to increase his breadth of knowledge. 

Tip #2: Get a Mentor

Luckily, Berkely had a semi-formal onboarding process in place which sped up the learning process for new faculty. For other educators who do not have access to that kind of program, Steve recommends:

  • Attending other entrepreneurship instructor’s classes
  • If you’re an entrepreneur first, get another educator to mentor you
  • If you’re an academic first, pair with an entrepreneur to teach

Like we teach our students, teams with aligned goals and diverse skills have better outcomes; the same applies to our teaching. To improve your classes, find people who have a different set of skills and experiences than you and collaborate with them.

When in Doubt: Experiences Teach Skills

“If you’ve never started a company and you’re teaching entrepreneurship, it’s like teaching a med school class and never having cracked a chest.”

Entrepreneurship is a combination of theory and practice and our students learn it best when they are offered by perspectives.

Steve Blank Talking about How to Teach Entrepreneurship

Steve further explained his point by saying, “Startups are essentially years of chaos, uncertainty, and terror. That’s not what a typical academic career is like. And so it’s kind of hard to teach tenacity, resilience, and agility and maybe curiosity, which are the key skills for early-stage entrepreneurs without having lived with that uncertainty.”

Students Learn Best By Doing

How do we teach customer empathy, customer development, and customer discovery effectively?

The answer is learning by doing. When Steve teaches his Lean LaunchPad classes, he insists his students talk to 10 customers each week. And he always follows up to ensure they actually made contact. 

For students who have difficulty performing customer interviews, he recommends students practice interviewing. Steve recommends the book, Talking to Humans: Success Starts with Understanding Your Customers.

For an engaging way to help your students understand exactly what questions they should and shouldn’t ask customers, you can also use our free experiential Customer Interviewing Cards lesson plan.

The same goes for every topic in entrepreneurship:

  • Idea generation
  • Solution ideation
  • Finance
  • Pitching

Every entrepreneurship skill must be practiced to be internalized.

The Future of Entrepreneurship Education

Key skills for early-stage entrepreneurs can be taught with the right combination of theory and experiential exercises.

In class, Steve looks to create a feeling that there is no “right” answer that can be found in a book. It is this approach that encourages students to figure things out for themselves and inspires outside-the-box thinking. The Lean LaunchPad methodology Steve created is great for stimulating the chaos of entrepreneurship. It is this chaos that identifies those students ready for the pursuit of entrepreneurship.

Steve conceptualizes his classes as the Juilliard of entrepreneurship; when the way to train artists was with an experiential, hands-on apprenticeship. With this in mind, Steve thinks successful entrepreneurship curricula should include entrepreneurial appreciation.

“These core [entrepreneurship] courses will be the new liberal arts courses of the 21st century.”


Takeaways

Here are my takeaways from the first part of our conversation:

  1. Get a mentor. If your background is in academia, find an entrepreneur to mentor you in real-world realities. If you’re an entrepreneur, find an academic mentor who can teach you about teaching. Teaching entrepreneurship requires both.
  2. Train entrepreneurs like artists. Just like are no “right” answers in art, there are no right answers in entrepreneurship. Instead of focusing on teaching answers, we should focus on teaching skills.
  3. Students learn skills by practicing them. Experiences, not textbooks, are the best way to teach skills.

Don’t Miss Part 2

Subscribe here to get notified of the second part of my interview with Steve where we discuss:

  • The necessary skills professors should teach their students, and 
  • Four courses he thinks are essential to a robust entrepreneurship program

Join 10,000+ instructors and get new entrepreneurship lesson plans and exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:


Want More Engaged Students?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on all major learning management system

Preview ExEC Now

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.

Playing Music in Your Zoom Class

Playing Music in Your Zoom Class

Music is an easy way to add energy to virtual classes. For example, you can:

  1. Play music as students join the session, so you set a tone of good vibes from the beginning.
  2. When students are working on exercises, chill music can increase concentration.
  3. As your session is ending, play music so your students leave with an upbeat impression from the class.

Plus: It takes < 10 seconds to set up.

Here are step-by-step instructions to play music in Zoom:

Step 1: Click on the “Screen Share” green button at the bottom of the screen

Play music in Zoom

Step 2: Click on the “Advanced” tab at the top of the screen

Playing music on Zoom

Step 3: Select “Music or Computer Sound Only” option and click “Share”

Instructions for playing music in Zoom

Step 4: Play your favorite music

Here are some starter playlists we curated specifically to energize your classes:

Use Microsoft Teams?

Here are your step-by-step instructions.

Big thanks to Tristan Kromer at Kromatic for the heads up about this functionality. If you haven’t seen his Innovation Resources, definitely check them out.


Want More Engagement?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on all major learning management system

Preview ExEC Now

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.


Get our Next Free Lesson Plan

We email new experiential entrepreneurship lesson plans regularly. Subscribe here to get our next lesson plan in your inbox!

Join 10,000+ instructors and get new entrepreneurship lesson plans and exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

Hybrid Teaching Tips

Hybrid Teaching Tips

If you’re being asked to teach a hybrid, or “HyFlex” class, where some students are in person, and some are online and are worried about managing both environments, here are some tips for creating the best experience possible for your students:

Tip #1: Don’t Do It!

Engaging students is hard enough in-person. Engaging them online is more challenging. Now imagine trying to do both…simultaneously.

In some cases, hybrid classes are our administrations falling into the same trap as our entrepreneurs:

Afraid of losing customers, they’re trying to be everything to everyone. As a result, they’ll create a product no one wants.

To be clear, “HyFlex” classes have their place. Namely large, lecture-based classes with limited interaction.

If you’re teaching entrepreneurship however, your students will be best served by moving your classes online now. Remember that in-person classes, with everyone in masks and six feet apart, aren’t going to be the normal classes we remember:

So if you want to engage your students, online is the way to go. Plus, once you commit to going online, you can invest in creating a great class there.

Just like we teach our students…

We need to solve one problem well, not multiple problems poorly. Of course, you may not be entirely in control of the decision to go online.

If that’s true for you…

Tip #2: Teach Online to In-Person Students

If your hands are tied and you need to teach a hybrid class, knowing that:

  1. You can’t engage students simultaneously on Zoom and in-person
  2. In-person students will be socially distant from one another

All of your students will be better served if they are online, even when they’re “in-person.”

When your in-person students bring their laptops to class and everyone is on your video conference call (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) you can:

  • Do virtual Post-It note exercises with all students simultaneously
  • Host class-wide discussions including everyone
  • Have small group breakouts
  • Ensure equitable access for all students

Having all of your students in one place, even if that place is online, will make the experience more manageable for you, and more engaging for your students.

Tip #3: Answer These Tech Questions

When setting up your hybrid classroom, there are a couple of questions you’ll need to answer (possibly with the help of your IT team):

  1. How will in-person students be able to speak, and ask questions, so that your online students can hear them? You’ll need microphone(s) in your classroom to pick up the audio from your in-person students so your online students can hear.
  2. How will online students be able to speak and ask questions without hearing feedback? You’ll need speakers in your classroom so your in-person students can listen to what the online students are saying. Unfortunately, the microphones required for question #1 above will often pick up the audio from those speakers, creating an annoying feedback loop where online students hear themselves talk with a slight delay (which will virtually guarantee they don’t participate in discussions).
  3. How will online students be able to see who is speaking in the classroom? You’ll need at least two cameras in your classroom: 1) one facing towards the front of the room so online students can see when you’re speaking and 2) one facing towards your in-person students so the online students can see when an in-person student is talking. You’ll also want a way for the video conference software to automatically switch between those two cameras based on who is speaking.
  4. How will in-person students present their work (e.g., pitches, presentations, etc.) so online students can see them? In-person students will need to simultaneously project their slides so that other in-person students can see them, while also screen sharing them so online students can see them.
  5. How will online students present their work so that in-person students can see them? You’ll need to project your video conferencing software within your classroom so the in-person students can view presentations from online students.

Recommended Solution

The easiest way to solve all of the issues above is actually to follow Tip #2: Teach Online to In-Person Students. When all of your in-person students bring their laptops and headphones to class and log in to your virtual meeting – as long as they unmute their microphones whenever they want to speak – all of a sudden:

  • Online students can see and hear in-person students, and vice versa
  • You can have class-wide discussions without headaches
  • Anyone can easily present their camera, screen and/or slides

This solution, of course…

Begs the Question

If you’re just going to have in-person students attend online, what’s the point in having in-person classes at all?

To which we say…exactly.

Not only are hybrid classes infeasible from an engagement perspective, but they’re also a technical nightmare (see Tip #1: Don’t Do It, and avoid the headaches of hybrid classes from the beginning).

Tip #4: Use Online-Ready Exercises

If you’re following along, you know the most effective way to run hybrid classes will be online. With that in mind, the next step is to find online resources to use for your class.

Whether you use an online-ready curriculum like the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), or you assemble your own online activities, now is the time to start prepping your online class for Fall.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Note: ExEC’s Canvas, D2L, Blackboard, and Moodle templates can get your class set up in less than 5 minutes.

Our Students Deserve Better.

Our students weren’t disappointed with “online classes” last spring. They were disappointed by the way we delivered our online classes.

We didn’t have a chance to prep in Spring, but we should have no excuses for Fall.

Hybrid, or HyFlex classes, are just online classes with another name. If you invest in prepping your class to go online now, you can deliver the experience your students deserve.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Stay safe, and let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help you prep for Fall!

Best,

Justin Wilcox
Founder
TeachingEntrepreneurship.org

Custom Online & Hybrid Sample Entrepreneurship Syllabus

Custom Online & Hybrid Sample Entrepreneurship Syllabus

Whether or not your Fall starts online, it is almost certain that your Fall will finish online. As more colleges announce shifts online last week, Inside Higher Ed wrote:

“Colleges and universities [are] conceding that previously announced plans to resume in-person learning are no longer feasible.”

Between the social nature of students, the continuing spread of COVID, and the steps our schools will need to take once students start testing positive, it’s increasingly likely classes in the US will end up online this Fall.

Get Prepared

To help with your preparation, we’ve published an extremely flexible sample syllabus you can customize for just about any learning environment: 

Whether your class ends up:

  1. In-person
  2. Online synchronous
  3. Online asynchronous
  4. Hybrid

…or transitions between the, the sample syllabus will show you how to design an engaging and structured course for Fall.

To see the entire Skills Scavenger Hunt Exercise enter your email below!

Comprehensive Online Curriculum

In addition to the sample syllabus, you’ll get a preview of the checklist all of our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) instructors use to prepare their courses.

For more details on using ExEC this Fall, request a full preview of ExEC.

teaching entrepreneurship

Get Our Next Article

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Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Consistently Teaching with Adjuncts. The hardest part about coordinating classes taught by adjuncts is delivering a consistent experience when multiple instructors teach the same course.
Top 5 Resources for Increasing Online Engagement

Top 5 Resources for Increasing Online Engagement

Here are our top 5 resources for increasing engagement in your online classes:

#1: Split Screen Your Slides & Webcam

If you’re wondering whether your students are paying attention during your online lectures…they’re not.

To make your online lectures more engaging, check out these instructions on combining your slides and Webcam for your Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet sessions.


#2: Sample Online / Hybrid Syllabus

You can customize this flexible sample syllabus to work for just about any learning environment. Whether your class ends up:

  1. In-person
  2. Online synchronous
  3. Online asynchronous
  4. Hybrid

…or transitions between them, this sample syllabus will help you design an engaging and structured course.

Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus Structure

#3: Online Ice Breaker & Team Builder

You can create the most amazing content, and deliver it in the most engaging manner. But if your students are in teams that are dysfunctional, or just sleepy, their learning can come to a screeching halt as they disengage.

Bonus: The Skills Scavenger Hunt exercise is also a great icebreaker, which can be extremely helpful in terms of fostering connections between students taking an online class.

Kahoot Learning Games

#4: 10 Free Tools to Increase Online Engagement

During the TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Virtual Conference, we presented 10 Tools to Increase Online Student Engagement.

Mural digital workspace

Read about all 10 tools, including:

  • Mural
  • Loom
  • Flipgrid
  • Kahoot
  • and many more…

#5: Motivating Your Students Online: Pilot Your Purpose Lesson Plan

Help your students unlock their purpose, and they will be motivated to learn the entire semester!

Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Especially in an online environment, you can more easily engage students by tapping into their intrinsic motivation. In other words, learn how to leverage students’ internal drivers and your class sessions will buzz with energy. 


Bonus: Creating Digital Worksheets

The key to engaging students, especially online, is to make lectures interactive.

One of the best ways to do that is to create digital worksheets your students can use to apply the lesson you’re teaching in real-time. 


Experiential Online Curriculum

If you’re teaching entrepreneurship online, you can have an engaging class without reinventing the wheel.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether your online class is synchronous or asynchronous, the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) is optimized for online and hybrid classes.

If you want an engaging approach you can use online or in-person for your entrepreneurship curriculum, including an entrepreneurship syllabus template and 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans, check out ExEC.

fall prep with Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum

If you’d like lesson plans emailed to you directly, subscribe here to get the next one in your inbox.

Join 10,000+ instructors and get new entrepreneurship lesson plans and exercises via email!

 

Consistently Teach with Faculty & Adjuncts

Consistently Teach with Faculty & Adjuncts

The hardest part about coordinating classes taught by adjuncts is delivering a…

Consistent experience when multiple instructors teach the same course.

Especially true for Intro to Entrepreneurship classes, high turnover among adjuncts and different areas of expertise among faculty can mean students have vastly different experiences depending on who teaches their particular section.

This inconsistency often leads to lower enrollment and knowledge gaps that affect subsequent entrepreneurship classes.

Solution: “Flexible Structure”

To eliminate these inconsistencies while growing your entrepreneurship program, ensure your Intro to Entrepreneurship curriculum is all three of the following:

  1. Experiential. Lecture-based classes not only neglect to teach students skills, they fail to inspire students to continue their entrepreneurial journey. To grow an entrepreneurship program, your first course needs to be both relevant and engaging – experiential classes can be both.
  2. Structured. Experiential courses are great, but most educators don’t have time to design their own comprehensive set of experiences. Instead, they piecemeal activities from a variety of sources resulting in courses that lack a cohesive framework and leave gaps in students’ understanding. Having a coherent set of lesson plans that all instructors utilize means that students get both a robust and consistent experience.

    Plus, a consistent framework makes onboarding new instructors much easier.

  3. Flexible. Of course, structured curricula must also enable instructors to leverage their personal strengths (i.e. research specialties, entrepreneurial experiences, personal networks, etc.). The framework you use needs to be modular enough that it allows instructors to make the class their own, while still maintaining the core of the curriculum.

This unique “Flexible Structure” is precisely why so many…

Large Programs Use ExEC

The Experiential Entrepreneurship Curruciulm (ExEC) has become a popular choice when course coordinators want high-quality lessons that deliver consistent experiences across all sections.

For example, when Cal Poly’s Jonathan York wanted to improve his 500+ student / multi-instructor Intro to Entrepreneurship course, he chose ExEC:

Likewise, when Florida State University wanted to provide more structure for the instructors teaching their hundreds of entrepreneurship students, they adopted ExEC…

Cal Poly: 500+ Students and 10 Instructors

We recently sat down with Jonathan York of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to discuss his experience transitioning to ExEC and why he recommends it for other professors and universities looking to streamline their entrepreneurship curriculum.

Jon is Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship and Cofounder of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Cal Poly. Like most professors, when he began teaching entrepreneurship he found himself searching for and saving specific resources in Google Docs to help augment the textbook and lesson plans.

As an entrepreneurship professor, “I was constantly looking for more tools I could use in class,” he shares. While he felt capable of finding great resources to use in the classroom, once he needed to get his fellow professors and adjuncts on the same page, this method wasn’t sustainable. Cal Poly teaches over 500 entrepreneurship students a quarter with more than 10 professors and ever-changing adjunct faculty. Their entrepreneurship curriculum needs were larger than could be handled with Google Docs.

While looking for a solution to get his entrepreneurship department on the same page he found ExEC

“ExEC helped bring everything I wanted to teach in one place.”

Adopting the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum 

When implementing ExEC, what stood out for Jon was that it was powerful to divide the quarter into two “sprints,” the first called “finding a problem worth solving” and the second “finding a solution worth building.” He recommends this strategy of “grouping the lessons into themes” divided into the 10 week quarter.

When Jon first started using ExEC, there were some tweaks in the first quarter, but after fine-tuning the timing for the lesson plans, he found it to be an easy switch from his previous approach of combining lots of tools coordinated through Moodle, which led to considerable student confusion and frustration.

While designed to be taught in 15-weeks, the ExEC curriculum clearly states the goals and objectives of each lesson. This helps professors easily group the lessons thematically for their quarter system.

The main benefit of using ExEC is it made it easier for Jon to ensure consistency in the entrepreneurship classes taught at Cal Poly. It helped unify the entrepreneurship department and align professors and adjuncts alike with not just what was going to be taught with entrepreneurship, but how.

Adjunct professors in particular may be successful entrepreneurs but new to teaching. Of teaching entrepreneurship, Jon says, “You don’t just want warhorses sitting around telling stories.”

The goal of an entrepreneurship class is to engage.

When they rolled out ExEC with the Cal Poly faculty, Jon held weekly meetings to help with any questions or trouble-shooting, which is what he recommends for any organization looking to adopt ExEC. He started with 3 professors using the curriculum with other professors observing. This helped identify any tweaks that may be needed with the timing of lesson plans and solidified the staff’s confidence in using ExEC.

With any new tool, there’s a certain learning curve to be expected. However, when adopting ExEC, professors aren’t alone in trying to figure out how to teach the lesson plans. We offer a comprehensive and responsive customer service not found with a traditional textbook.

Engaging Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

Overall, the rollout of ExEC at Cal Poly was successful. Jon really enjoyed the Early Adopter modules and the Business Model Canvas (BMC) aspects of the ExEC curriculum. For instance, the BMC lesson is designed to provide an overview showing where each lesson fits into the overall curriculum, it also provides professors with a view of the big picture – where they’ve been, where they are, and where they are going. Think of the Business Model Canvas as the map that shows the flow of lesson plans throughout the curriculum.

When teaching any of the lesson plans to his entrepreneurship students, he had this to say: “your pre-class materials prepared my students better than anything I have used before.” Unlike a textbook that puts the onus on the instructor to prepare how to teach the information, ExEC includes thorough instructions for how to prepare before class, including all the necessary resources to use during class.  

We also include information on what students should do after class to help create an experience that resonates beyond the classroom. 

We have found that this dramatically cuts down on any necessary prep-time for the professor. It also creates a comprehensive curriculum that engages every student, whether your entrepreneurship program is large or small.

An Evolving Curriculum

We know that experiential education is really difficult to execute. We’ve created a foolproof system to teach each lesson successfully.

Our goal is that your students are engaged with each lesson throughout the entire entrepreneurship curriculum.

When asked if he would recommend ExEC to other professors or universities looking to expand their entrepreneurship curriculum beyond a traditional textbook, Jon answered, “Yes. With each iteration, it keeps getting better.”

The average print textbook is considered out of date in 3 years. In the ever-evolving world of entrepreneurship, time is invaluable. With ExEC, updates to entrepreneurship lesson plans happen immediately and are implemented seamlessly. This helps keep your university’s program on the cutting edge of entrepreneurship education.

We pride ourselves in practicing what we preach. We’ve applied the invaluable feedback we received from professors and students alike in our latest version of the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC). We’ve designed it to include the best practices of entrepreneurship education. And after just 2 years, ExEC is now being used at almost 100 universities!

If you want more engagement, more structure, and more impact, now is your chance with ExEC!

Start Engaging this Fall with ExEC

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on every learning management system

Preview ExEC Now

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.

Get our Next Free Lesson Plan

We email new experiential entrepreneurship lesson plans regularly. Subscribe here to get our next lesson plan in your inbox!

Join 10,000+ instructors and get new entrepreneurship lesson plans and exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

Fall: It’s Not If You Teach Online. It’s When.

Fall: It’s Not If You Teach Online. It’s When.

With Fall fast approaching, this 3-part “Checklist” newsletter series will help you prep for what will likely be an uncertain semester.

The first thing you need to do for Fall, no matter what your administration is saying, is…

Fully commit to teaching online.

In-Person will be Worse than Online

In normal circumstances, in-person classes are unquestionably better learning environments for most students. This Fall, however, the experience won’t be normal:

  • You and your students will all be wearing face masks for the duration of your classes. 
     
  • Your students won’t be able to interact with one another. Separated by 6 feet, student-to-student interactions will need to be eliminated, and you’ll be asked to restrict your movement within the classroom.
     
  • We’re about to enter cold & flu season when anyone, including you, with even a hint of any symptom – sniffles, sneezes, sore throat, etc. – will be asked to stay home. Combine those students with those that are simply uncomfortable attending class and your “in-person” class will quickly turn into a Frankenstein’s monster of half-online / half-in-person classes that’s the worst of both worlds.

These restrictions mean that your normally interactive entrepreneurship classes will be reduced to a series of lectures. This is not only boring for you and your students, but worse than that…

Neglecting the reasons our classes exist in the first place: to teach entrepreneurship skills.

Fortunately, the ineffectiveness of in-person classes won’t last long this Fall because…

It’s not if you go online. It’s when.


When you consider:

  • It’s summer now, school is out, and COVID is still spreading rapidly.
     
  • Come Fall, when students travel from across the country and start socializing on campus, in the dorms, and at inevitable parties, cases will spike at schools.
     
  • As soon as any of your in-person students test positive, you’ll be asked to immediately transition online because you or your other students could already be infected.

Unfortunately, if you’re in the US…

It’s inevitable your classes will move online.

Fortunately, there’s some good news: 

Online Classes Can Be Better than In-Person


The online experience your students had last year wasn’t great because you weren’t given adequate time to prepare. Of course, as we collectively demonstrated during the TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Virtual Conference, with a little preparation…

Online learning can be just as good (better?) than in-person.

When you teach online, whether synchronously or asynchronously, with proper planning you can replicate virtually all of the experiences you’d do in-person. 

Key to Success: Start Prepping Now

As we’ve seen instructors embrace the fact that classes are going online in Fall, we’ve seen them simultaneously learn new tools while…

Dramatically simplifying their prep process.

And with the right tools, it turns out, there’s not an overwhelming amount of prep to do.

Step #1: Ask to Teach Completely Online


If you haven’t already, have a conversation with your department chair or dean about why online classes from day 1 will be better for your students than “hybrid” (half in-person / half online) classes that inevitably transition online. Try to communicate that, in addition to being a more safe, less stressful experience for you and your students…

Committing to online teaching now, will enable you to focus your prep and provide a higher quality experience for students.

More important than whether they take classes in-person or online, students want a motivating, engaging learning experience. The best way to provide that is to commit to one class format now, and start prepping for it.

Step #2: Prep Your Online Lessons


To avoid the suboptimal experience students had last Spring, it’s important to start prepping for online lessons now. To do that you can either:

  • Start translating your in-person activities to be “Zoom-able” or
     
  • Use a curriculum like ExEC that has already been translated online.

Using a structured set of lessons like the ones in ExEC enables you to have modular exercises you can integrate into your course to ensure your class is engaging whether its in-person, online, or hybrid. 

Plus ExEC has full support to instantly create courses for you on:

  • Canvas
  • Brightspace / D2L
  • Moodle
  • Blackboard

Click here to request a preview of ExEC.

Step #3: Start Now

No matter what tools you use to teach this Fall, the most important thing to do is start prepping now.

If you’re able to see the writing on the wall now and prepare to teach online, you’ll not only make your life easier, you’ll create a much more valuable and engaging experience for your students.

Next Week: Sample Online Syllabi


To help with your prep, we want to provide detailed synchronous and asynchronous online syllabi you can use to adapt your schedule.

Stay tuned for that! In the meantime, stay safe, and let us know how we can help you prep!

Skills Scavenger Hunt: Online Icebreaker & Team Building Exercise

Skills Scavenger Hunt: Online Icebreaker & Team Building Exercise

If students don’t form into high-performance teams, their learning curve significantly flattens.

You can create the most amazing content, and deliver it in the most engaging manner. But if your students are in teams that are dysfunctional, or just sleepy, their learning can come to a screeching halt as they disengage.

Students put the course content into practice in their team environment where they apply it to bring ideas that matter to them to life. Student teams formed randomly erode the student (and professor!) experience through internal conflict and apathy.

Helping students form high-functioning teams will boost their learning capability exponentially.

We built our concept of high performing teams on the idea of matching students based on aligned goals and diverse skills. We developed our Skills Scavenger Hunt to facilitate that process and thus mitigate the biggest drawbacks of student team projects.

BONUS: This exercise is also an incredible icebreaker, which is critically important to do in an online course environment.

skills scavenger hunt online ice breaker team building animation

In this exercise, students go on a scavenger hunt to find other students with complementary skills in the following categories:

  1. Graphics
  2. Technology
  3. Social Media
  4. Design
  5. Sales
  6. Marketing

Step 1: What Skills Do You Have?

Each student checks any boxes in all 6 areas that are applicable to them. They may be able to check more than one box in a particular area, and they may not be able to check any boxes in a particular area. This doesn’t matter – the goal with this exercise is for students to identify their gaps in skills and fill them with qualified teammates.

Skills scavenger hunt step 1

If students check any boxes for their skills, that particular column will turn dark grey –  to indicate they do not need to add any potential teammate names or notes.

To see the entire Skills Scavenger Hunt Exercise enter your email below!

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Motivate Students with the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Motivate Students with the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Help your students unlock their purpose, and they will be motivated to learn the entire semester!
Especially in an online environment, you can more easily engage students by tapping into their intrinsic motivation. In other words, learn how to leverage students’ internal drivers and your class sessions will buzz with energy. There is nothing more internally motivating than pursuing one’s purpose. Where students’ interest intersect with their skills represents their passion. When students combine their passion with the impact they want to have on the world, that becomes their purpose. Do this at the beginning of class, and then make every interaction with your students meaningful by tying everything back to their purpose. Pilot Your Purpose Exercise For instance, let’s say a student loves playing video games (their interest). They enjoy learning about and getting better at playing video games, and also writing and performing slam poetry (their skills). That leads the student to imagine streaming their preferred video game while performing slam poetry about competitors (their passion). How could this student create impact?
  • They could create educational video games.
  • They could create video games to help people empathize with people of other races and socioeconomic status.
  • They could raise money through being a Twitch streamer to support causes in their local community.
This purpose becomes the thread that weaves throughout your course. When they practice customer interviewing, or forecasting financial needs, or prototyping, you can link those lessons back to applying those skills to build an educational game company, or whatever they identify their purpose is. And your students stay motivated.
Your students’ purpose is the perfect hook to keep them engaged the entire semester!

Step 1: Interests

To identify their interests, students think about:
  1. What friends say they always talk about
  2. What they would spend time doing if money was no object
  3. What they were learning about the last time they lost track of time watching Youtube or scrolling on social media
Our example student talks to their friends, who say they are always talking about FPS video games (particularly Call of Duty (COD)), skateboarding, and slam poetry. They think about what they would do if money was no object, and they land on playing FPS video games and skydiving (they have never been skydiving, but loves watching videos of skydiving and dreams of going one day to experience the adrenaline rush). Last, they think back to the last time they lost a couple of hours staring at their phone, and it was watching others stream COD on Twitch. Our student now has their interests mapped out, according to what their friends say, what they dream about, and what holds their attention.

Pilot Your Purpose: InterestsStep 2: Skills

To identify their skills, students think about:
  1. What friends say they are good at
  2. What they would like to get better at doing
  3. What they think they are above average at doing
Our example student again talks to their friends, who say they are good at teaching them how to play FPS video games, and at making them laugh. They think about things they do that they would like to be better at. They really love writing and performing slam poetry, but knows from their performances and comparing themself to other performers that they have a lot of room to improve. They also want to get better at playing Call of Duty. Last, they think hard about what they are really good at, and land on playing FPS video games, at mathematics (Calculus, at least), at Adobe Illustrator, and at slam poetry. Our student now has their skills mapped out, according to what their friends say, what skills they want to improve, and what they are already good at.

Pilot Your Purpose: Skills

To see the entire Pilot Your Purpose Exercise enter your email below! The Pilot Your Purpose exercise is a great way to keep your students motivated all semester. You can meet with your students individually after completing this exercise & have them share their purpose so you understand what makes them tick. As you move into each module of your course, you can reference a particular student’s purpose to talk about why the particular module is relevant. For instance, when you introduce a financial module, you might reference our example student and (assuming they are a game designer) how they need to hire a project manager, programmers, 3D artist, and quality assurance specialists to complement their team, pay for servers, legal fees to protect their IP, a 3D engine license, and potentially rent for space for the team to create. As you begin each module, students will stay motivated as they see the direct application of the particular material to their purpose!

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10 Free Tools for Increasing Student Engagement Online

10 Free Tools for Increasing Student Engagement Online

This past spring was a painful experience of online student disengagement. Don’t let that happen this fall!

During the TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Virtual Conference, we presented 10 Tools to Increase Online Student Engagement. During this conference, we asked participant teams of educators to research each tool and write up some notes in a discussion group. This mimics how you might ask student teams to research something and post their findings and recommendations in the discussion board on your LMS.

We used the summaries participants posted as talking points for this post. You can do this with student posts in your LMS by using their posts as talking points about certain topics, so they see their post consumed and shared.

This jigsaw technique is a powerful way to leverage student desire to perform well in front of their peers to move them into deeper engagement in the material.

Below is a video recap of the conference presentation, followed by more detailed information about all 10 tools. You can sprinkle these tools throughout your entrepreneurship syllabus, or stack these tools like building blocks, to create a deeper face-to-face or online student engagement this fall.

#1: GIMKIT

This is an interactive quiz program offering virtual prizes, so students can create their own games or you can create games to deliver interactive learning experiences. When you create a Gimkit, it is basically a quiz that shows up on your students’ phone.

Gimkit - Live Quiz Learning Game

If students answer the question correctly, they receive virtual currency. With this virtual currency, students have the option to buy power-ups. The following are examples of the power-ups available:

  • To receive more currency for correct answers. If they accumulate 10 virtual dollars, they can buy a streak bonus so if they answer multiple questions correctly in a row they earn more virtual currency
  • To get a second chance if they answer incorrectly
  • To get themes to enhance the visual presentation

Gimkit is an amazing gamification experience, which has game mechanics built into a learning experience so students using it will be more bought into the process. Students have various incentives that ignite their natural competitive spirit, which will be very addictive to most of your students, so they just keep playing. And more importantly,

they keep learning while they are playing!

The idea of students creating their own games is another powerful twist to Gimkit. Imagine each student generates their own quiz for an element of the business model canvas. They post a link in the discussion group on your LMS, and then students get to compete with each other and see who understands the various elements of the business model canvas the best by watching the scores within the various games!


To see the 9 other tools that will increase your student engagement this fall with

  • Interactive quizzes and assessment through gaming experiences
  • Virtual collaboration
  • Video discussion and presentation

enter your email below!


Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid or HyFlex model, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to enable you using tools like those we just reviewed to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on every learning management system

Preview ExEC Now


If you want an engaging approach you can use online or in-person for your entrepreneurship curriculum, including an entrepreneurship syllabus template and 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans, and don’t want to spend all summer building it:

Consider trying ExEC this Fall.

fall prep with Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum
 

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