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Design Thinking: The Ideal Wallet [Online Version]

Design Thinking: The Ideal Wallet [Online Version]

If you’ve been teaching design thinking, you’re likely familiar with Stanford d.school’s Wallet Project. If you’re not, it’s an awesome exercise for teaching students that anyone can use:

  • Empathy
  • Prototyping
  • Iteration

…to design creative solutions to problems.

Teaching it Online

We have a very popular write-up on the in-person version of the Wallet Project, but with so many of us teaching online now, we thought it would be helpful to draft this…

Online version of the wallet design exercise!

Below are our suggestions for using hand-drawn worksheets, breakout rooms, and supplies found around the house to update the Wallet Project for online synchronous classes.

When to Use This Exercise

Since the Wallet Project is best used as a way to introduce students to design thinking, we recommend running it:

  • Before students conduct customer interviews or
  • Before students start doing solution ideation or
  • At any time during a creativity and innovation course

Design Thinking: Designing an Ideal Wallet

Before Class: Ask Students to Gather Supplies

One of the most fun parts of this exercise is that students will get to build low fidelity prototypes of their new wallet solutions. In preparation, let students know that they should come to class with as many of the following items as they can.

  • Cardboard box, blank paper, and/or Post-It notes
  • Scissors or a utility knife
  • Tape, paper clips, and/or a stapler
  • String and/or rubber bands
  • Markers and/or colored pens
  • Anything else you want to suggest
Example prototyping supplies
Image courtesy of Atomic Object

Note: Not all students will have access to the same supplies, and that this might create some inequity in experiencing this activity. We encourage you to create a large list of the possible supplies your particular student population may have access to.

The goal is for students to have some supplies readily available to create a makeshift prototype.

Step 1: The Wrong Approach

The beginning of this exercise starts begins with a “False Start” where you’ll tell students:

“Instead of just telling you about design thinking, I want to immediately have you jump right in and experience it for yourself. You’re going to do a design project for about the next hour. Ready? Let’s go!”

To help facilitate the experience, in the lesson plan below we have links to worksheets students can print out ahead of time: 

Design thinking exercise from Stanford University d.school

If any of your students don’t have access to a printer, ask them to have 6 sheets of blank (or lined) paper ready so they can sketch out the boxes of each worksheet – they’re all really simple to duplicate by hand.

Tell students their goal is to individually come up with some ideas for the “ideal” wallet, and specifically to draw one idea for a better wallet in 3 minutes.

It’s normal for students to feel stuck and delay putting anything down on paper. Reminding them of the time they have left can push them to start, so remind students after each minute expires.

After the 3 minutes expires, ask students to share how they felt during the experience. Most will have had a negative experience. Tell them they just experienced a typical problem-solving approach, being guided by their own opinions and with a solution in mind.

Let them know they will now learn a better approach, called “human-centered design thinking.”

Step 2: An Empathetic Approach

Direct students to the “Your New Mission” and pair them up in breakout rooms to design something useful for their partner.

Again remind students who do not have a printed worksheet to use a blank sheet of paper to draw two boxes to mimic the worksheet which you can show via screen sharing.

Tell students the most important part of designing for someone is to gain empathy. Students will do this by having a conversation with their partner, which you can facilitate in an online class using breakout rooms.

Before you send students to their breakout rooms, let them know that:

  1. Partner A has 4 minutes to interview Partner B while Partner B meticulously shares the contents of their wallet with Partner A.
  2. Then they switch and Partner B interviews Partner A while Partner A meticulously shares the contents of their wallet with Partner B.
  3. If their partner is having technical difficulties in the breakout room, or simply doesn’t show up after 60 seconds, having them leave their breakout room and join you in the main room where you can assign them to another breakout room (or partner with them yourself if you have an odd number of students).

Encourage partners to ask questions about when their partner carries a wallet, why they have particular things in there, and to make notes of things they find interesting or surprising.

Students make notes in the “Interview” column of their worksheet.

Next Steps

Over the next 30 minutes, students will learn:

  • That what is important for them to discover is what is important to their customer
  • To design solutions specifically related to their customers’ emotional needs
  • To prototype their design with simple household materials and
  • To gather customer feedback on prototypes

As a result, after doing this exercise, students will know how to develop powerful solutions for customers because they can empathize with the person or people for whom they are designing solutions.

The Full Lesson Plan

If you want to bring design thinking into your online class and introduce students to a methodology to engage real people to help them ground their design decisions

Get the “Design the Ideal Wallet [Online Version]” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Design the Ideal Wallet [Online Version]” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan
 

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.

All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share tools to enable efficient communications with students so you don’t have to pull your hair out over LMS discussion boards anymore!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

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Why Business Plans Suck: The Game

Why Business Plans Suck: The Game

If you want to get your students’ attention, tell them…

“Business plans suck!”

By the time they get to your class, your students will likely have heard that business plans are key to entrepreneurial success.

This exercise will use a game to help your students see why business plans have fallen out of favor, and what data-driven entrepreneurs do instead.

When to Use this Exercise

The Why Business Plans Suck: The Game exercise is best used as a way to introduce the:

  1. Business Model Canvas and/or
  2. Minimum Viable Products (MVPs)

So consider running this either at the beginning of your course when you’re introducing the canvas, or toward the end of your course when you’re introducing MVPs.

The Game

Step 1: Students Play Innovator’s Plinko

You start the lesson with each student playing Innovation Plinko, courtesy of the amazing team at Kromatic!

As students drop each of their Plinko chips, each of which represents a new business idea, they quickly realize that:

Most new business ideas fail.

Step 2: Introduce Experimentation

With that context, students discover what’s needed is a way to “test” each idea to determine which ones are most likely to pay off:

As students play this game they discover that…

The earlier they test their business ideas, the better their outcome.

Step 3: Tinder is Testing (for Dating)

While most students have no prior entrepreneurial experience, virtually all of them have dating experience. That’s helpful because Tinder is a great metaphor:

Entrepreneurs are “searching” for business models like single people are “searching” for partners.

Tools like Tinder help you weed out bad relationship matches quickly:

Tinder as analogy for entrepreneurship

Unfortunately, Business Plans don’t encourage students to “swipe” through bad ideas like Tinder does. Which is exactly…

Step 4: Why Business Plans Fail

Writing traditional business plans are like writing fairy tales: it’s fun and they always have a happy ending, but they’re divorced from reality.

Any potential benefits from the “planning” process are dwarfed by the fact that:

Business plans encourage you to fall in love with a fantasy.

Business plans take a significant amount of time to write. Google can’t answer the real questions of market size, sales channels, or value proposition.

Only customers know the answers to those questions.

The more time spent theorizing and “planning” a business, the less time learning what customers’ real needs are, and the best way to address them.

Step 5: A Better Way

Here re-introduce that Tinder analogy. Let students know there is a Tinder for entrepreneurship, a more efficient way to find a lasting business model. When looking for a business model in which we want to invest our time, energy, and money, we only want to find the best fit for an idea. We want to treat looking for a business model like we treat looking for a significant other.

Instead of thinking of business ideas as looking for “the one”, we should look at it more like dating. On Tinder, a person is not looking at every single profile thinking “this could be the one!” Instead, what people do is look for red flags on every single profile, and for the vast majority of profiles, people will swipe left because they sense some sort of red flag indicating that person isn’t “the one”. 

Make the point that when looking for ideas and business models, what we are looking for are red flags and reasons not to pursue it; we are not looking to get married to every business idea we think of.  

Just like in dating, with our ideas, we want to test the waters. We look at someone’s profile, and if it looks good, we send a message. If they do something that raises a red flag (sending graphic photos or using offensive language), we stop.

The same thing goes with working on ideas and business models. We want to test the waters as soon as possible, and immediately stop as soon as we sense red flags, then modify things or somehow pivot.

The idea to drill home with students is to save their time and energy and money for the best of the best! The faster we can eliminate the bad ideas, the sooner we can find the good ones, so we want to stop and assess ideas as soon and as often as possible.

Business Models Are a Better Alternative

Explain to students that instead of working on business plans, they want to approach ideas and business models as experiments. In this approach, they have the opportunity to stop pursuing any idea at any given time if they sense a red flag, whether it’s at the very beginning, or further along. Show students a Business Model Canvas and explain that we use this tool instead of a business plan because it allows us to quickly hypothesize and experiment with our ideas and our business model.

Business model canvas

This tool lets us quickly write up all the potential red flags we are worried about and want to test in our business model and allows us to make a small investment in one element at a time (like sending a quick message on Tinder to see if the person responds appropriately).  

The Full Lesson Plan

If you’re looking for a way to engage students while you introduce:

  • Business Model Canvas and
  • Minimum Viable Products

…or you just want to play Entrepreneurial Plinko…

Get the “Why Business Plans Suck: The Game” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Why Business Plans Suck: The Game” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

 

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.

All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share a companion exercise to the “How to Build a (No Code) App” exercise. This will help students understand why it is critical to engage customers prior to launching!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Prototyping Lesson Plan: Building 1-Hour No-Code Apps

Prototyping Lesson Plan: Building 1-Hour No-Code Apps

How often have you heard:

“I have an idea for an app!”

For many students, every idea…is an app idea.

And it’s hard to blame them. Between Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, etc. students are spending more than 7 hours per day on their screens.

Of course, they aren’t alone (and they may be on to something)…

Using Apps to Teach Skills

While apps aren’t everything in entrepreneurship, we can leverage our students’ love of them to:

  • Teach prototyping
  • Enable students to launch an MVP
  • Develop a skill (mobile design) they can use throughout their careers

All with…

An experience that engages students.

Now every student can build an app

How to Build a 1-Hour App

In the 1-Hour App exercise, students will:

  1. Use Glide to create a tutorial app (that would cost ~$70k+ to build from scratch)
  2. Launch their tutorial app
  3. Start building a custom app for their company (or their resume)
Uber Edibles App Template

Turn your students’ love of apps into learning opportunities.

Get the “1-Hour App” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “1-Hour App” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.

All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!


Coming Soon…

In our next exercise, we’ll share a lesson plan that combines Tinder with Plinko!

Subscribe here to get our next exercise, “Why Business Plans Suck: The Game” in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Failure Resume

Failure Resume

Have you ever had a student:

  • Pretend to interview more customers than they actually had
  • Skew the results of an experiment to make their product appear more successful than it really was?
  • Misrepresent why they weren’t able to complete an assignment?

The reason we see the above is because

Students fear failure.

And who can blame them! By the time they get to college, the threat of a “failing grade” has been used as a tool to ensure their compliance for the past 12 years.

Students spend elementary through high school literally being taught to fear failure.

Entrepreneurs can’t fear failure

If there’s one entrepreneurial scale we can teach our students to help them find success no matter where their career path leads them it’s

How to fear learn from failure

This is a scale that all successful entrepreneurs have navigated and mastered, learning from the bruises, and emerging more motivated and confident. Our students can learn from failure, and can learn from those who have found tremendous success because of their unique relationship with failure.

Greatness is Forged by Failure

Start by showing your students a slide featuring the following faces they will recognize:

  • Oprah
  • Elon Musk
  • Vera Wang
  • Steve Jobs
  • You (this is the most important one!)

Entrepreneurs who have failed and eventually been successful

Ask your students:

  • “What do all of these people have in common?”
  • Answer: They were all failures before they were successes.

Tell students:

  • Oprah, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs were all fired from their jobs before they became successful.
  • Show Elon Musk’s Failure Resume, highlighting the number of failures he’s encountered on his way to success.
  • Vera Wang failed to achieve her goal of making the Olympic team in figure skating and failed to get the job as the editor in chief of Vogue (after working there for 20 years) before eventually starting her own fashion line. She’s now in the US Skating Hall of Fame for the costumes she’s designed for skaters.
  • Share one of your own failures.

Next, show a slide with this quote:

The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception and response to failure. – John Maxwell

Tell your students that if they want to find or create a job they enjoy that pays well, one of the most impactful things they can do is change their relationship to failure.

Share with them that failure is uncomfortable for all of us, but the difference between being an average and an achieving person is how they take advantage of failures when they arise.

Tell students in this class you will give them the opportunity to learn how to make the most of their failures. The first step towards doing that is to show them how valuable their failures have already been to them.

Failure Resume

You’re going to ask your students to be vulnerable and share their failures. The best way for them to engage with this exercise is for you to be vulnerable and share your failures with them. In doing so, you’ll demonstrate the failures are what we make of them.

Tell students that if an experience is too recent, or feels too sensitive to reflect on now, they’re welcome to skip that failure and move on to another one.

You want your students to create a resume, but not a typical resume where they document all of their successful accomplishments. This is going to be a failure resume.

Tell your students that using the following categories as inspiration, they should try to come up with at least their three biggest failures, they have experienced, thus far and their lives:

  • School
  • Work
  • Sports/competitions
  • Relationship

They don’t need to come up with failures in each category, they just need to try to come up with three failures in total.

To help inspire ideas, share some examples of your own failures with your students.

Here is my example I share with my students – I talk about failing classes and getting denied admission to school, and about failing at work (getting denied tenure), about getting cut from my high school basketball team, and about lying to my wife.

Example failure resume

For each of the failures that you share with your students, be sure that you have real impactful lessons that you’ve taken from them.

The reflection and lessons learned is the step you must demonstrate for your students. Don’t languish on the actual failure too long!

Tell your students you’ll give them a few minutes in silence to reflect on and identify their failures.

My Biggest Failure

Looking over their failures, ask students to identify the one that they learned from the most. In other words, the one that would change their behavior the most.

With that failure in mind, ask your students to fill in the bottom half of the failure resume, answering the questions:

  1. My Biggest Failure Taught Me…
  2. And Changed My Behavior By….

For example, I share with my students that I learned from my failures to be more thoughtful in my words and actions, which leads me to pause and slow down so I think of others before speaking and acting.

Failure resume: reflecting on failure

After students have written in their answers, pair them up, ideally with someone they don’t know. They share their biggest failure with their partner, what they learned, and how it changed the way they act now,

Once your students had a chance to share with one another, ask a few to share what they learned from their failure with the rest of the class.

Because students are being vulnerable and sharing sensitive information be sure to thank each person who shares and reflect on what positive things it reflects about them that they something helpful away from their failures.

As you’re early in your class. It’s important to appreciate students for sharing; it will set the tone for the rest of your course.

Failure Will Not be Penalized

Tell students in an entrepreneurship course and in their career path, they are likely to run many experiments. Some, if not most, of those experiments will fail.

We encourage you to determine students’ grades by how much effort they put into their experiments, how well they reflect on those experiments, and how much they learn from each one – successful or not. With that approach, you can tell students they will never be penalized in your class for failing.

Making the Most of Failure

Tell your students the key to making the most of any failure is reflection. Once a failure occurs, successful people take time to identify:

  • What failed
  • Why it failed
  • And understand how they can improve next time

Ask your students to complete the last portion of their Failure Resume. For my example, upon reflecting I realized I can be more successful by inviting my wife into helping me be more thoughtful.

Failure resume: planning ahead for failure

By identifying techniques they’ll use to analyze and reflect upon their failure, for example:

  • Journaling
  • Talking to someone
  • Meditating
  • Contemplating alone

Tell your students to commit to themselves that when they face a failure, they will make the most of it by trying some of these new strategies, and by reflecting on the failure.

Get the “Failure Resume” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Failure Resume” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

 

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.

All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share a companion exercise to the “60 Minute MVP” exercise. This will help students understand why it is critical to engage customers prior to launching!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Exercise: 60 Minute MVP

Exercise: 60 Minute MVP

Imagine looking out at your classroom, and every student is talking and typing furiously. It’s noisy. Students are learning together and teaching each other.

There’s a buzz of nervousness and excitement!

Exercise: Students launch landing pages in < 60 Minutes

This is by far, one of Justin and my favorite in-class experiences because “60 Minute MVP” is engaging, fun, and fully-immersive, while teaching critical aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset.

Your students are going to build, and launch, an MVP in 60 minutes…with no technical expertise!

In fact, during this hour, your students will build…

A Landing Page

A simple website that describes the problem they’re solving to the customers they want to serve.

Your students will create landing pages like this

An Explainer Video

A quick video that hints how their solution will solve the problem.

And a Currency Test…

…to validate demand for their product!

Your students will learn how to use a service called Celery to take pre-orders for their products to demonstrate real demand, without them actually having to charge money/store credit card information/etc.

For example:

currency testing sample

And they’ll do it all, in an hour.

What are Landing Page MVPs?

Over the course of an hour, your students will create a landing page (a simple, single-page website) that:

  1. Tells their customers the problem their team is solving,
  2. Uses a video to demonstrate how the team will solve the problem and
  3. Asks for some form of “currency” from their customers to validate demand.

You can incorporate this exercise into one class period in your syllabus; push your students to complete every step within an hour. They can tweak things later, the important thing is that they don’t spend a ton of time trying to get everything perfect the first time around. As they will find later on, doing that for every experiment wastes a lot of time.

It’s important to note, for this exercise:

[bctt tweet=”When building MVPs, done is better than perfect!”]

They’ll Learn More in 60 Minutes

…than they will in 6 hours of lectures:

  1. The true meaning of MVP. They will learn exactly how “minimum” a minimum viable product should be. MVP doesn’t mean “beta” – it means making the least amount of investment possible, to test a business model’s riskiest assumption.
  2. How much they can accomplish when they work as a team. By dividing and conquering, your students will be astounded at how much they can collectively accomplish in one hour.
  3. How many great, free tools exist for entrepreneurs. The internet is a crowded place, so we want to show them that there are free tools out there to help them develop skills they don’t yet possess.
  4. The upside of deadlines. Our students don’t usually work under tight deadlines, but they will soon! We want to show them how tight deadlines push them to get everything done and give them a positive experience executing under tight deadlines.
  5. It is easier to launch a product than they thought. Most of our students are overwhelmed at the idea of launching a product because their assumptions are wrong. We want to correct those assumptions so they believe in their ability to launch.
  6. That the easiest thing about building a business is launching the product. In a future post, we will explain that the most difficult part of launching is actually the testing and validation. Getting something into the world is quite easy, which your students will understand after this experience.

Most importantly, they will learn…

When it comes to MVPs, done is better than perfect.

Your Job in the Class

You have an important role during this exercise. While we’ve documented all of the instructions your students need to follow (see the lesson plan for details), you’ll need to be the chief cheerleader, time-keeper, and discussion leader.

Here’s what that entails:

  1. Give your students the instructional videos. We’ve recorded step-by-step videos for your student teams to follow when creating their MVPs. Links to the videos and instructions are provided in the lesson plan below.
  2. Play music. Ask them what music gets them pumped, and then play that. Create an energetic, intense, exciting environment for the students.
  3. Keep shouting how little time they have left. Create a sense of urgency; don’t write time on the board. Don’t announce it in your normal tone. Shout it, wave your hands; stress how important it is that something gets launched, even if it’s not the perfect something. It is likely your students will want to focus on minor technical or design details. Because the goal is to execute in 60 minutes, you need to refocus your students on that goal and steer them away from their inclination toward perfection. Remind them that:

“Done is better than perfect.”

  1. Celebrate the hell out of each MVP as it launches. Show each team’s MVP on the screen, and congratulate them on the incredible things they accomplished in 60 minutes.
  2. Host a discussion with your students about what it was like to build an MVP in 60 minutes. You’ll find your students reflect most, if not all, of the learning objectives listed above.

Note: when they step out of their comfort zone, they’ll get the most out of this exercise.

Full Class Engagement

If you’re looking for an immersive exercise that activates your class, complete with a chaotic, noisy, high-pressure environment, that teaches real entrepreneurial principles, give “60 Minute MVP” a shot.

Justin and I both love it. We think you, and your students, will will too 🙂

Complete details, including all the instructions for you, and videos for your students are in the lesson plan below.

Get the “60 Minute MVP” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “60 Minute MVP” exercise walk you, and your students through the process, step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

 

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.

All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share a companion exercise to the “60 Minute MVP” exercise. This will help students understand why it is critical to engage customers prior to launching!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

How to Combine Your Slides and Webcam

How to Combine Your Slides and Webcam

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

“I’m waking up and then falling asleep again in Zoom classes.” – Xavier University Student

To be clear, this isn’t your fault or your students’ fault. The way screen sharing works on video conference platforms (where students see your slides fullscreen but only a tiny thumbnail of your webcam) means it’s near impossible for anyone to pay attention during a slide-based online lecture.

combine powerpoint webcam camera zoom teams obs meet
You can recreate this effect for your live (and recorded) lectures.

But you can easily change that. Using free, open source software, you can do what news and TV shows have done for decades:

Show facts and faces side-by-side.

When students can see your face, they can read your non-verbal cues to see how passionate you are and how important a subject is. Combine that with the fact that human faces are naturally engaging, and you can start lecturing online in a way that’s not only more interesting to your students, but more fun for you – at least it has been for me :).

For everything you need to combine your slides and webcam, open the free instructions below.


 

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Slido: Our Favorite Tool for Online Engagement

Slido: Our Favorite Tool for Online Engagement

If Zoom fatigue is lowering enthusiasm for you and your students, here are some tips on using one simple tool – Slido – to inject energy into your online classes and increase online engagement.

Encourage Anonymous Questions

Slido is best known for helping instructors solicit questions from students and providing a mechanism for students to prioritize their most important questions.

A lesser-known element of Slido is that it allows your students to ask questions anonymously, and…

Anonymous questions increase interaction.

For example, if your high school health classes were anything like mine, the most interesting questions came when students anonymously wrote questions on pieces of paper and put them in a box to be answered by the teacher at the end of the week. Those questions started such provocative discussions I remember several of them today…decades later.

When you enable students to ask questions anonymously in your class, several interesting things happen:

  • Introverts participate. If you have a few vocal students asking questions and little participation from others, anonymous questions lower student anxiety, which makes it easier for everyone to participate. 
  • You learn what students are thinking about. Anonymity provides cover for students to ask questions they may be too afraid to ask but are curious about.
  • Discussions start. Anonymity means you can invite students to pose “challenging” questions. If you encourage your students to question what they’re learning, why it’s important, or why they should have to do the work you’re assigning, you spark discussions about how entrepreneurship is relevant, which can often be the key to increasing engagement.

One great way to take advantage of this technique is to start each class session off by inviting students to post anonymous questions about the last lesson you did, their last homework assignment, or anything else on their minds. If you do this at the beginning of every lesson, students know there’s always a safe place for them to ask questions, and you’ll see more of them crop up throughout your term.

Crystalize Learnings

In addition to soliciting questions, Slido also solicits brainstormed ideas from students.

One interesting way to use this technique is to have students post their takeaways from a lesson or exercise.

Some takeaways from the 2020 TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Summer Virtual Conference

When you ask students to write down what they’ve learned from an exercise, the process of writing their takeaway helps cement their learning. Plus, when you ask other students to upvote other students’ takeaways, they get to see a summary of all the topics you covered during the lesson, you also get to see which were most salient (and what topics you may need to reinforce in another class).

Plus, it’s a fun interactive way to end a lesson. Speaking of fun interactions, Slido is also great for creating…

Quiz Games

As we wrote in the Gamify your Lectures post, Slido is also great for replacing boring slides, with interactive games.

Be sure to read our full write-up for details on easy ways to make presenting information more fun for students.

See it All in Action

Enter your email address below to see exactly how we use Slido with these techniques to teach our TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Online Virtual Conference attendees:

Summary

If you want to inject a little energy into your class, we’ve found one simple tool – Slido – that enables you to:

  1. Solicit anonymous, prioritized questions from your students
  2. Brainstorm ideas with students, including their takeaways
  3. Engage students with fun, interactive competition

Give it a shot and let us know how it goes!

Gamify Your Online Class with Slido and Kahoot!

Gamify Your Online Class with Slido and Kahoot!

Slide-based lectures are a surefire way to disengage your students – especially in online classes.

One of the easiest ways to keep students engaged is to replace your slides with a quiz game like Slido or Kahoot!.

For example, let’s say you’re teaching a lesson on finance and you want to define a number of different concepts:

  • Profit vs Revenue
  • Cashflow
  • Customer Acquisition Cost
  • Etc.

The most boring way to present this will be to talk through a set of slides with definitions on them, like so:

Bullets are boring.

A more engaging way to teach is to replace your slides with a no-stakes pre-quiz where students get to test their knowledge of concepts before you present them. That ends up looking something like:

Lectures can be fun!

How to Gamify Lectures

  1. For every concept you want to cover in class, create a quiz question that asks your students something about that concept. For example, you might ask:

    “What is the difference between gross profit and net profit?”


    • A) Gross profit refers to physical goods (e.g. groceries) and net profit refers to virtual goods (e.g. internet “net” goods).
    • B) Gross profit is how much money made in total. Net profit is how much money made after expenses.
    • C) Gross profit is how much money made minus the cost of goods sold. Net profit is how much money made after all expenses and taxes.
    • D) Net profit is how much money made in total. Gross profit is how much money made after expenses. 

  2. Instead of asking your students to complete all of the quiz questions at once, you’ll show them the first quiz question before you’ve given them the answer. By asking your students a question about a topic before you’ve spoken about it, you’re inviting them to actively engage and test their knowledge on the subject. 

  3. After your students answer the first question, you’ll be able to see which students got it correct and the students who answered the question most quickly, will show up on your quiz’s “Leaderboard.”

  4. Now that you know who mostly quickly answered the question correctly (they’ll be #1 on your leaderboard), you can ask that student to explain to everyone else why their answer was correct.

  5. You reinforce what your student says and round out any points they missed.

  6. Repeat this process for the remaining questions and you’ll have converted your lecture into an interactive game.

See it in Action

Enter your email address below to see exactly how we use this technique to teach our Engaging Students Online Virtual Conference attendees:

Benefits of this Approach

  • Activates your passive students. Instead of half-listening to you talk through bullets, this interactive quiz format invites students to actively test their knowledge of a subject. Game mechanics like points, a leaderboard, and a timer all help students focus their attention on the material you’re presenting by asking them to do more work than a typical lecture, not less. 

  • Students teach each other. Because you’re asking students to explain to one another why an answer is correct, they’ll do the majority of talking and be able to speak in a way that is more engaging to other students. 

  • Wrong answers inspire learning. Students, like all of us, learn more from mistakes than successes, so inviting them to take their best guess at answering a question before you’ve given them the definite answer creates an opportunity for them to learn either way:
    • If they get the question right, they’ll confirm some information they already knew.
    • If they get the question wrong, they’ll be primed and ready to learn the correct answer.

  • Discover what your students already know / what they need help with. These quizzes are, at their core, formative assessment tools. When the majority of your class gets a question correct, that means they know that concept well and you can devote more time to covering concepts your students don’t know well (i.e. more of their answers were incorrect).

Tips

  1. Use tools like Slido (our favorite) or Kahoot! (another great option).

  2. Make the questions hard, but not impossible. If the questions are too easy, students will get bored. If they’re impossible, they’ll start randomly guessing. If however, the questions are hard by doable, you’ll take advantage of the fact that students learn more when they get questions wrong, while keeping questions within the zone of proximal development.

  3. Don’t overdo it. This is a great technique, but if you do it every class it’s benefits will wear off. Instead, mix this approach up with a number of experiential exercises (like those in the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum).

How-To Videos

Finally, here are a couple of quick tutorial videos that demonstrate how to use Slido quizzes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR2I_nKqecY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlsjSKRWYPg

Summary

If your students aren’t as engaged as you think they could be, give this technique a shot. It’s worked wonders for us, and we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

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.

Check Out Part 2

Click here for the second part of our conversation where we discuss:

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

And subscribe here for more interviews with entrepreneurship education thought leaders:

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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:


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.

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!