As the Coronavirus spreads, more and more schools are transitioning to online classes.
If you’re asked to teach entrepreneurship online, know that we’ve accelerated the development of ExEC Online due to the outbreak. If you’d like to use it, please reach out and we’ll see if/how we can be most helpful.
Fortunately, teaching with ExEC Online takes relatively little prep – much of the teaching material is already prepared – and student engagement is at least as high as in-person classes.
For more information on teaching entrepreneurship online with ExEC, click here.
Otherwise, please stay as safe (and stress-free) as possible, and let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help.
It’s no question: technology is shaping how or students engage (or don’t) with us.
From the apps nagging our students for attention during class to the learning management systems (Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, etc.) we and our students are asked to wrestle with, technology is absolutely altering how we interact with our students.
That said, when leveraged the right way,
Technology can be a way to increase engagement in the classroom.
In this post, we share some of our favorite tech tools you can use to flip the script on technology and use it to re-engage your students.
Active Learning vs Passive Listening
The first thing to know is that lectures are the antithesis of engagement. If your class is full of:
Remember that it’s not that disengaged students don’t like to learn, the truth is most students love learning. They just hate listening.
Ask yourself, what do Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Netflix all have in common? They are all visual-based technologies that our students have grown up with and spend far more time “learning from” than they do lectures.
Now ask yourself, are your bullet points genuinely more compelling than their latest Instagram story?
If the answer is no, the next question to answer is:
How do you create an active learning experience for your students?
If you’re looking to shift from a “sage on the stage” class to an active learning environment, Kahoot! is a great tool to use.
How to Leverage Kahoot! In Your Entrepreneurship Lesson
Gamification is a great way to increase engagement in class. Using technology like Kahoot! you can create multiple-choice competitions that foster engagement or as an assessment tool.
Here’s what we love about Kahoot! in the classroom:
Produces real-time competition
Encourages instant collaboration
Boosts energy with a real-time leader board that students love seeing their names on
Inspires discussion among all students
Kahoot! works by showing students a series of multiple-choice questions on your projector and each student (or team of students) uses their smartphone to quickly answer each question. Teams are awarded points for correct answers, and the faster they answer, the more points they get and after each question, they can see how well their team is doing compared to other teams in the class.
If you want to easily try Kahoot!, we’ve actually integrated it into our free Customer Interviewing Cards Exercise. This lesson plan was presented at USASBE 2020 and teaches valuable customer discovery skills.
Give it a shot and you’ll not only teach your students what questions to ask (and questions avoid) during customer interviews, you’ll do it in an engaging way with full class participation.
Nothing Compares to Learning by Doing
Another way to engage students is to have them teach themselves by creating a “learn by doing” experience. For example, if you want to teach students about the power of Minimum Viable Products (MVPs), why not use Wix and Powtoon to have your students create their own during class?
Wix: Launch Websites (No Student Experience Required)
Wix is a free and user-friendly website creator. Some of the features we’ve found helpful when using in our lesson plans include:
Drag and drop editing
No technical skills required
Powtoon: Your Students Can Create Explainer Videos
Powtoon is an incredibly useful tool to make simple explainer videos fast. Here are some of the features that make Powtoon a useful teaching tool:
Wide-variety of templates
Change elements with a simple click
Animate a video in minutes
While you can plan an entrepreneurial lesson using Wix and Powtoon, we’ve found they can be combined for a powerful lesson. You can try our 60-Minute MVP this semester to introduce your students to Wix and Powtoon so they can see how quickly and easily they can start testing demand for new products, even if they have no tech or video editing skills.
This lesson plan was a finalist in the USASBE 3E competition, and it’s one of the most popular on our site. We hope you give it a shot – not only will it use technology to teach your students new skills, they’ll be completely engaged while they do it.
Design an App Prototype Without Technical Skills
So many of our students want to build apps, but most of them will lack the technical skills to even prototype their apps. Marvel changes that.
Marvel is an easy to use app that lets your students quickly prototype their app designs by first drawing them on paper, and then simply taking pictures of their designs with their phone, but that’s not all!
Here are some of the exciting features you can leverage in the classroom:
Design easily with Marvel’s UI builder
Perform usability testing with a simple link
Get customer/usability feedback immediately
Marvel is free to use and is perfect to encourage design thinking and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. We created our Marvel App Lesson Plan below to introduce you to this new entrepreneurial teaching tool.
It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers, so you’re welcome to share it.
Incorporate Technology in Your Entrepreneurship Class
When used well, technology can transform your classroom into an experiential, fully-engaged experience for your students. If you’d like to learn more about the technologies we use in our entrepreneurship lesson plans, click to learn more. We hope that it supports the work you do in the classroom, and if you and your students enjoy, check out the full Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC).
If you’d like more lesson plans like this, subscribe here to get the next one in your inbox.
Want More Engaging Exercises?
Creating Rigorous But Accessible Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans
Whether teaching Intro to Entrepreneurship at a community college, or Tech Entrepreneurship at Stanford, we know…
Experiential exercises are the key to engaging students.
In our continuing collaboration with Rebeca Hwang from Stanford, who introduced us to her Wish Game, we were excited by her invitation to share two of our lesson plans with her students.
Teaching at Stanford
Knowing that experiences are both the best to teach skills, we decided to introduce students to the difference between Inventors and Entrepreneurs with our award-winning Lottery Ticket Dilemma lesson plan. With our second lesson, we shifted our focus to customer interviews. We wanted students to walk away with a clear understanding of what questions they should, and more importantly, what questions they shouldn’t ask, during customer interviews.
Inventors Vs. Entrepreneurs
We chose to present this exercise because it creates a fun, experiential way for students to conceptualize customer behavior. They can also identify business opportunities, by demonstrating it’s not actually customer problems that drive behavior, but customer emotions.
After this game-based activity, students understand why some products are successful even if they don’t solve an obvious problem. This inspires them to identify non-problem based opportunities to leverage.
Customer Interviewing: Learning the Basics Through Gamification
We followed with another fun and interactive exercise designed to improve your students’ interviewing skills in just one lesson. During this class, students will identify what their problem interviewing goals should be and should not be. Those goals will point them to what questions they should and should not ask during customer interviews.
After the card game, we provided an interview script template to the students. They can use this script as the basis for any problem discovery interview they conduct. This robust script will increase the quality of their interviews, and their confidence in conducting them.
Students Love Engaging Entrepreneurship Classes
After our two lesson plans were concluded, one thing was very clear: students love to be engaged in the classroom. Here is a snapshot of some of our feedback:
We were delighted to get this real-time feedback from Stanford students. We believe in practicing what we preach and the opportunity to teach at Stanford allowed us to perform our own customer discovery interviews. The overall response was two-fold. The students:
Loved how engaging the lessons were
Appreciated learning a new, practical skill
Rigorous and Accessible Entrepreneurship Curriculum
But what excites us most about the work we do at TeachingEntrepreneurship.org is that these same exercises are accessible and loved by a wide range of students and university professors like. You can find our curriculum in:
If you haven’t already heard, Doan Winkel, one of TeachingEntrepreneurship.org’s co-founders, has been elected as USASBE’s President for 2021!
USASBE (the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship) is the largest professional organization dedicated solely to advancing academic entrepreneurship education through bold teaching, scholarship, and practice. This year Doan is serving as the President-elect, preparing to lead the organization next year. As part of his preparation, he wants to practice what he preaches and talks to his customers.
Namely, he wants to talk to you.
Not surprisingly, Doan is treating his tenure as President like an entrepreneur, so he wants to know from members of the entrepreneurship education community:
Your biggest teaching challenges
Your teaching goals
Your teaching wishes
…so he, and the rest of the USASBE team, can ideate and experiment with ways to help. With this goal in mind…
Doan and USASBE are hosting their first-ever Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, March 25 from 1-2pm Eastern
If you want:
To propose new ideas in entrepreneurship education
Help to address any challenges you see our community facing
To ask questions about effective teaching strategies or
To hear Doan’s vision for the future of teaching entrepreneurship
Register here to attend and/or receive a recording of the USASBE Virtual Town Hall.
Better yet, use the buttons below to vote on the biggest challenge you’d like to see Doan and USASBE tackle as an entrepreneurship education community.
What’s the biggest challenge facing entrepreneurship education? Please use the buttons below to vote and help Doan organize the Virtual Town Hall:
Teaching entrepreneurship online is daunting. In addition to the technical challenges, teaching entrepreneurship online comes with extra questions like:
How do you make online classes experiential?
How do you keep virtual students engaged?
How do create connections between you and your students?
And most importantly…
How to can you teach entrepreneurial skills online?
Introducing ExEC Online
Over the last 5 years, we’ve worked hard to produce the best available experiential entrepreneurship curriculum possible. During that time, we’ve had a laser focus on in-person classes. Over the same time period…
We’ve seen an increasing number of our instructors being asked to teach entrepreneurship online.
Our ExEC Online students are launching companies, running experiments, testing their hypotheses and interviewing customers – everything they do in our in-person ExEC classes!
But that’s not even the best part. Based on what we’ve seen so far…
ExEC online could enable you to spend less time prepping, and more time coaching and mentoring individual students, which means your online classes could potentially be, more impactful than your in-person classes.
The combination of:
Automatically scheduled assignments
Pre-recorded video lessons
Online experiential exercises that integrate with your LMS and
…means you can significantly reduce your prep.
Imagine an experiential, skill-building, online entrepreneurship course, with 10% of the prep of a traditional class – and just as much impact.
When Will You Teach Online?
Looking at the flexibility online classes offer students, and the potential for growth they offer universities means, it looks like online classes will be the part of all of our futures’.
For example, below you can see close to 50% of all Oregon Public school students are taking online classes now – more than double the rate just 10 years ago.
Whether you’re already teaching online, or think it could be in your future, know that we’re developing and testing an online version of our award winning experiential curriculum, that you can use starting Fall 2020.
Curious about ExEC Online?
If you’re teaching entrepreneurship in an online, or hybrid, class in Fall or Spring of next year and are curious about our online experiments, let us know and we’ll show you what we’re up to:
ExEC Online Interest Form
Want More Engaging Exercises?
Think, Pair, Share: More Engaging Class Discussions
Does getting your students to participate in class discussions feel like pulling teeth? Have you ever struggled leading a class discussion?
We’ve discussed before how to inspire the entrepreneurial mindset in your students but most of us struggle with engaging all of their students, especially during in-class discussions.
Some students are naturally involved in classroom discussions, while for others, the call for participation can lead to dropped gazes, hunched postures, and impenetrable silence. Why?
Students don’t feel safe.
We’ve all been in group situations where we’ve been called to participate and we are reluctant to share. Think about the last conference you attended, where the presenter asked for volunteers. Or the last meeting you attended where you were asked to share your thoughts.
Just like us, our students sometimes don’t feel confident that what they have to share will benefit the class or worry about how they will be perceived. When that happens, the glassy stares and stony faces of our students can leave us feeling frustrated and disheartened. Not only that, but without a game plan, a few disengaged students can hinder the engagement for our entire classroom.
With the Think, Pair, Share process, we’ll show you how to bypass what stops your students from participating and deepen their commitment to showing up 100% in your course. Specifically, we’ll help you flip the script on how you facilitate discussions, so students feel confident and safe participating in your discussion. This results in a livelier classroom.
3 Steps to Lively Class Discussions
An engaged discussion with your students starts with you as the instructor and how well you prepare to promote the exchange of diverse ideas. Imagine you want to have a discussion where students come up with a business to start on campus or to discuss last night’s reading.
If you start off your discussion with a generic question about the main takeaway from the reading, you’ll likely have your usual suspects raise their hands to share their thoughts. The rest of your class may keep their heads down hoping you won’t call on them. Instead of just jumping into a group discussion, try this 3-step process and see how it improves the engagement of your entire class.
Step 1: Think
Rather than announcing that you’d like your class to discuss a topic, you’ll start by telling your students you’d like them to reflect on what they read last night. For example, ask them to come up with 1-2 takeaways from last night’s reading and write them down. Tell them you will give them 1-2 minutes to think about this.
Tell the students they are going to have a specified amount of time to reflect on the topic for discussion and encourage them to write down their thoughts.
It’s important to keep this reflection time quiet and discourage any conversation so each student has a chance to reflect on their own.
Step 2: Pair
Once you’ve given the students adequate time to reflect and organize their thoughts on the topic, connect them with a partner give them 2-3 minutes each to share their thoughts.
The Pair step is fundamental to the process’ success because:
Sharing with a partner is less intimidating than speaking in front of the entire class.
It gives the students practice putting their ideas into words and clarify their thoughts.
It gives the students validation as they discover what they have to say is well-received and makes sense to someone else.
(BONUS) As soon as you’ve created your pairs, you’ll notice that your entire class is instantly engaged.
Make sure the students understand how much time each of them will have to share their ideas and remind them to switch roles halfway through.
Step 3: Share
Now that your students have finished with their partner, it’s time for the main event. In this step, you’ll find that your students feel safer participating with the entire class because they’ve practiced sharing their thoughts which were validated by their partner. In addition to sharing their own ideas, they may be inspired to share their partner’s thoughts.
Invite the students to share their thoughts on the subject with the entire class. There are a few sharing options that you can utilize, depending on what feels right for you and the energy of your class:
Ask them to raise their hands to share their thoughts
Invite them to spontaneously shout out their thoughts, sometimes with leading questions (à la popcorn style)
A sharing option for one class may not work for another. It’s important to practice different sharing options to find what will work best for a specific class.
Because students are given space to ease into discussions with this process, you’ll find that the majority of your students will begin to participate easily and quickly.
Through these steps, students will gain clarity and confidence in expressing their ideas on any given topic. Use this technique not just for discussion-leading, but for:
Coming up with business ideas
Brainstorming solutions for problems
Discussing why some solutions fail and some don’t
Anytime you want your students to share thoughts, use Think, Pair, Share to boost student engagement.
This will also help them prepare for speaking and presenting beyond the classroom and into a workplace setting.
As the instructor, you’ll get more engaged students and lively classroom discussions.
Get the “Think, Pair, Share” Worksheet
We’ve created a detailed “Think, Pair, Share” worksheet. This exercise walks you through the process of facilitating a successful group discussion step-by-step and gives you the tools to assess and evaluate what works well for any particular class.
It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers, so you’re welcome to share it.
We’ve incorporated Think, Pair, Share into several of the exercises that are in our fully experiential curriculum. If you’d like to see how Think, Pair, Share is leveraged in a structured lesson, click to learn more.
One of our founders, Doan Winkel, became President-Elect of USASBE. We look forward to his leadership of this great organization.
In addition to our annual happy hour, we hosted our first-ever Innovator’s dinner.
This definitely was our favorite conference yet. USASBE gives us a space to share and learn. We came away from the conference reinvigorated to continue improving our product to provide you and your students even more value.
This year we:
Hosted our annual happy hour and first Innovator’s dinner
Ran six sessions, featuring experiential entrepreneurship exercises from our ExEC curriculum
And the pièce de résistance…
We won the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Exercises (3E) competition again!
Winning this award has validated we are on the right track when it comes to creating truly innovative entrepreneurship programs.
After winning the 3E competition, we were delighted to join our fellow educators at the USASBE Gala.
Thanks to your engagement in our events, we had a fantastic conversation that covered:
what we wish for our students and entrepreneurship education as a whole,
what we wish for ourselves as entrepreneurship educators,
the barriers to creating engaging curriculum
how to make entrepreneurial skills accessible to all students
We had a wonderful time hosting happy hour as well as our inaugural Innovator’s dinner on Friday night. It was wonderful connect with other educator’s with an aligned vision and we enjoyed demoing our financial simulator:
As always, thank you for supporting us, challenging us, and for sharing our passion for engaging students everywhere.
New Orleans was an amazing host, but we’re already planning for next year’s USASBE conference in Los Angeles. We hope you join us!
“This approach to learning is just what students need.” – Eric Liguori, Rowan University
From enabling students to discover ideas that are meaningful to them to improving customer interviews, we design lesson plans to enhance engagement and improve skill-building. The following are our 5 most popular lesson plans from 2019 to transform your students’ experience as they practice generating ideas, interviewing customers, identifying early adopters, and validating assumptions.
5. Increase the Quality of Your Student’s Ideas
One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurship professors tell us is inspiring students to come up with ideas that are impactful or solution-centered.
How do you get your students to focus on problems, not products?
So often, students are attracted to low-impact products without a clear idea of who their customer is, much less why they would want to buy into the idea. We want them to understand that customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to their problems.
The Student Idea Generation lesson plan sparks your student’s idea generation so they can identify what problems they want to solve.
Rather than leading a brainstorming session in which students develop business ideas on their own (which can result in unactionable ideas), the Student Idea Generation lesson plan:
Instructs students how to pinpoint the customers they’re passionate about helping
Leads the students to identify the biggest challenges or problems they want to solve for these groups
In this lesson plan, students first discover the customers they are passionate about helping and the problems/emotions they want to help them with. Students then determine solutions they can use to create a successful business.
After this lesson, your students’ ideas will be:
More focused because they’ve identified the specific group they want to help
More practical because they’ll be solution-focused
More innovative because they’re inspired to solve problems
Nothing can make some students more uncomfortable than not knowing what to ask during customer interviews.
A number of factors make a student wary of conducting customer interviews, including:
Talking to strangers gives them anxiety
They’re nervous because they’ve never conducted an interview and want to get it right
They don’t understand the benefit of interviews in the first place
Because customer interviewing is so critical to building solutions people want, customer interviews are an integral part of the entrepreneurship curriculum. We designed the Customer Interview lesson plan to eliminate the barriers students have around performing customer interviews.
This comprehensive lesson plan includes materials to prep before class, and step-by-step instructions for leading the lesson. After the lesson, students will walk away understanding:
Their role in the interview
What makes a successful interview
Preparation for real customer interviews
Specific interview questions
The benefits of this lesson plan are two-fold:
Takes the guesswork out of customer interviews for the students
3. Experiential Exercise for Teaching About Early Adopters
Another problem professors shared is teaching students how to identify early adopters. Early adopters are vital for the success of any product or service, but students often struggle in understanding the concept of an early adopter.
Students understand the definition of Early Adopters easier if they’re led through this experiential exercise.
The Finding Early Adopters lesson plan features a mechanical pencil challenge that introduces the concept of an early adopter and contrasts it with early majority and late majority customers. This exercise also demonstrates where and how to find early adopters.
This exercise was a finalist in the prestigious 2019 USASBE 3E Competition, which recognizes the best experiential entrepreneurship exercises at the USASBE Annual Conference.
After this lesson plan, students will be able to answer:
Who is the target for customer interviews?
How and where to find the best prospects for customer interviews?
While valuable, team projects can be a source of great anxiety for students. Many students working in teams:
Worry about their final grade
Fall behind with the coursework or understanding of the content
Are bored because their team has surpassed other teams’ progress
Team projects can be problematic for professors to successfully meet students’ diverse needs. The How to Coach Your Students lesson plan provides a differentiated learning experience using individual team coaching sessions that provides a positive and productive team experience for all students.
Individual coaching sessions allow students to quantify the skills they’ve built and identify next steps.
Similar to a daily stand-up approach to scrum meetings, this lesson walks you step-by-step through a process to perform a Stand-Up Coaching session in 1 of 2 ways and discusses the pros and cons of each technique:
Coaching through simulation
Private team coaching
After this lesson, students will:
Shift from searching for the right answer to asking the right questions
Focus on learning rather than earning a specific grade
Feel better equipped to prepare for their final presentation
The 60 Minute MVP remains one of our most popular lesson plans. During this hour-long experience, students launch an MVP website, with an animated video and a way to take pre-orders, without any prior coding experience.
“One student described it as like a Navy Seal mental training exercise. Not sure it was that intense, but they were amazed and proud that they got it done.” – ExEC Curriculum Professor
This class is the ultimate combination of engagement and skill-building as the students navigate each task. On the lesson plan page, you can view an example of a video students created based on actual customer problems in about 20 minutes.
After this class, your students will understand:
The true meaning of Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
It’s easier to launch a product than they assume
Launching a product lays the foundation for their entire business
In addition to teaching customer interviewing techniques, we developed a Teaching Customer Observations lesson plan because it helps solidify the student’s understanding of the importance of understanding their customer’s problems. In this lesson plan, students experience first-hand the value of seeing how their customers experience problems rather than just imagining certain scenarios.
The goal of this lesson is to teach students to have a clear picture of their customer’s problems before they try to come up with a solution.
After this class, students will understand
The value of observing customer behavior rather than trying to predict it
How to listen with their eyes to improve empathy for what their customers value and care about
In addition to the positive feedback we’ve received from the community using this exercise,