Improving Your (Inherited) Course

Improving Your (Inherited) Course

Inheriting someone else’s entrepreneurship course often comes with challenges:

  • Topics are out of date and based on traditional long-form business plans, product-centric (as opposed to problems-centric) idea generation, and barely common topics today like Design Thinking, Business Models, Customer Interviews.
  • Not experiential instead relying on textbooks and lectures.
  • Based on quizzes and tests which can’t effectively assess skill development.

So how do you make it better? The two most common approaches:

  1. Iterate what’s already there
  2. Start fresh with a modern approach

Iterating a Course

If the bones are strong and the course is just slightly out of date, it’s relatively easy to:

  1. Identify the least engaging/most out-of-date lessons
  2. Replace those lessons with updated experiences
  3. Convert quizzes to reflections

The first step is to identify the weaknesses of the current course schedule (i.e. lessons that are the least engaging or most out of date). In particular, look for lessons on:

  • Business plan writing
  • Legal structure, IP, etc.
  • Product-centric (as opposed to problem-centric) idea generation
  • Finance (old versions of these lessons are often overwhelming and confusing for students)

While all of the above can be valuable, if your goal is to help your students develop entrepreneurial skills that will be applicable regardless of their career path, you can likely replace those lessons with more engaging experiences like:

  1. 60 Minute MVP. This exercise is engaging, fun, and fully immersive, teaching critical aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset while students build, and launch, a company in 60 minutes…with no technical expertise!
  2. Problem Generation vs Idea Generation. Through this exercise, students develop “better” ideas, meaning ideas that are creative, impactful, and feasible.
  3. Why Business Plans Don’t Work. This game helps students understand why business plans have fallen out of favor, and what data-driven entrepreneurs do instead, allowing you to introduce business model canvas and minimum viable products in a fun, gamified experience.
  4. Customer observations. During this exercise, students learn a technique to gain insight into the small details of a customer’s interaction with their environment that a customer may not think to express in interviews, thus understanding what a customer truly values.
  5. Financial Modeling Showdown. This exercise leads students through an experimentation process where they make different assumptions about their financial model, making entrepreneurial finance more accessible to all students through a game-like experience.

After injecting some energy into your class with new exercises, you can update your assessment strategy to assess skill development. Here we have two suggestions:

  1. Swap tests/quizzes for reflection assignments. Entrepreneurship students work developing a mindset and a set of skills. Quizzes cannot effectively assess either of those. Instead, the recommended tools for assessing entrepreneurship students are reflective assignments. Video reflections provide a fast, and rigorous way to assess entrepreneurship students, so we provide a demo of our video reflection and a rubric to assess video reflection submissions.
  2. Update the final class pitch. Too many entrepreneurship courses end with students pitching unrealistic ideas, or pitching ideas they don’t believe in, and a random variety of “judges” predicting the potential of these “bad” ideas. Instead, you can optimize the ineffective pitch day by focusing on skill-building and engaging all students if you shift away from Shark Tank pitches to what we call “process pitches.”

Those tweaks can go a long way if your class has a solid overall structure.

If, however, your course is lacking structure, or you’d like a cohesive, engaging experience for your students, consider a…

Fresh Start with a Modern Curriculum

If you want a structured, engaging entrepreneurship curriculum that focuses on customer interviews, design thinking, and business models:

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Used at over 150 colleges and universities, including…

ExEC makes prepping a structured course easy with:

  • LMS Integration (Canvas, D2L/Brightspace, Blackboard, Moodle, etc.)
  • Online, in-person, and hybrid versions
  • 8, 10, 12, and 15-week schedules
  • Rubrics

If you haven’t already, definitely…

Whether you iterate your course, or start fresh, making your course as experiential and skill-based as possible is the key to keeping your students engaged.

What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share an approach to improving your student evaluations!

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