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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
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.
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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:
- 10 Free Tools for Increasing Student Engagement Online. A variety of free tools are reviewed that will increase online student engagement. Keeping students engaged in online classes is difficult. These tools make it easy.
- “The best class I’ve taken!” We all want a Dead Poets Society moment in our entrepreneurship class. One professor using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum got hers!
- Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.
- Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus. This online entrepreneurship syllabus is an innovative online experience that is asynchronous with multiple touchpoints, skills-based, and experiential.