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Teaching Entrepreneurship Online: 5 Common Mistakes (and how to Avoid Them)

Teaching Entrepreneurship Online: 5 Common Mistakes (and how to Avoid Them)

Successful Online Classes

As many of us transition our classes online, growing pains will abound. We wanted to provide a quick summary of the most common pitfalls you’re likely to run into so you know how to avoid them.

5 Online Teaching Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #1: Weekly assignments

If you have weekly assignments, in other words just one touchpoint per week where students are expected to turn something in, you’re inviting time management challenges for your students. This can be especially true if students are new to taking online classes; they’re not used to planning out their weekly schedule around finishing assignments. Couple that with other work and class commitments and in all likelihood, they will wait until the last minute to get their work finished.

Solution: Multiple touch points each week.

When transitioning our own in-person curriculum online, we’ve found it helps set our students up for success by having at least 2 touchpoints per week. For example, we have assignments due on Tuesday and Thursday. Alternatively, you can set up your course so that assignments are due Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Whatever you decide, break up the assignments into smaller chunks to help avoid any time management problems your students may have. This will help keep them on track and reduce their tendency to cram.

Mistake #2: Not Using Groups

We often hear from professors who teach online that they don’t feel as connected to their students, or they worry their students don’t feel connected to them. Additionally, we’ve heard from students that they don’t feel connected to other students when taking an online class. 

If you’re avoiding group work because you’re teaching online, you’re missing an effective tool for fostering a connection between your students. 

Group work can seem daunting to set up, assess and grade online, but it doesn’t have to be. And since group work is a powerful tool to combat disconnection in an online classroom, it’s worth the effort. Here are a few of our proven methods for creating a successful group.

1) Reflection Groups

Reflection Groups are small groups of students (3-4), who meet up “face-to-face” online via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, etc. to reflect on individual experiences they’ve had during the class. This provides an explicit opportunity to reflect, and take notes about their reflections, with peers from the class, helps drive student thinking deeper. It also helps them connect with other people in their class and fosters a more profound connection since it provides space for them to share their reflections of their experience, rather than simply sharing right/wrong answers.

For example, in our classes students meet with their reflection groups to discuss:

  • Their fears and curiosities about life after graduation
  • The biggest failures they’ve encountered in their lives so far, and what they’ve learned from them
  • Successes and struggles they’ve had with individual assignments

Creating groups isn’t difficult. All Learning Management Systems (e.g. Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, Brightspace, etc.) have functionality for creating student. While technology like Zoom, WhatsApp, Facetime, and Skype make it really easy for students to meetup. This makes it simple to leverage group work and increase your student’s feeling of connection.

What can feel a little more daunting about online groups is grading/assessment. Here’s how to tackle that: 

2) Team Work + Individual (Video) Reflections

Have the students complete their exercises together, but have them turn in individual reflections. 

In our classes, we encourage students to work together but require each student to submit their own video-based reflections on the work they’ve done. These videos (which we limit to 1 – 3 minutes), speed up the assessment process, cutting down on overall assessment time while ensuring each student is developing their own skills.

Mistake #3: Not Using Webcams

Webcams establish an instant face-to-face connection which is incredibly helpful in establishing a connection with your students. We recommend, whenever possible, using your own webcam, and to encourage your students to use webcams themselves. 

When we ask for student submissions, we have them use a tool called Loom, which is an easy-to-use browser extension which allows students to simply record their screen and capture their webcam at the same time. We’ve used Loom thousands of students and have had great results.

Loom lets you see your students (establishing a connection) and gives you a real insight into what they’ve been working on. We’ve found this is an invaluable tool in discovering how well they understand the concepts being taught in class. It also leads to a deeper level of understanding of the material because students will need to be able to write about the subject as well as talk about it concisely. We do recommend setting time guidelines for the videos. For example, we have students make videos 2-3 minutes long. This reduces the amount of time needed to go through the videos.

Mistake #4: “Read and Regurgitate” Discussion Boards

Typically, discussion boards are used as a way to ensure students complete some reading by asking students to reflect on what they’ve read, and possibly comment on another student’s post. Most of the time, this leads to students simply summarizing what they read and writing similar comments on fellow students’ posts. Unfortunately, this doesn’t lead to a lot of in-depth discussion or reflection. 

Discussion boards are optimal when people are presenting diverse viewpoints as opposed to all reflecting similar ideas. 

We recommend using discussion boards for personal reflections. For example, instead of asking students to go through an experience and describe what the experience was, have them talk about their personal challenges that came up with the experience. Ask what they learned most as a result of the experience. How are they going to apply that skill going forward?

Making personal comments creates a connected feeling in the class as students read other people’s responses. They get to know each other better and you get a sense of if they’re really understanding what you want them to take away from the material.

Discussion boards can also be used for students to pitch business ideas. You can even have students form teams around pitch ideas. Any experience you can create where students are leveraging different ideas is a great place to use discussion boards.

Mistake #5: “Class-Based” Thinking

It’s hard enough to create an engaging classroom in-person. Going online can feel even more daunting because we don’t have the opportunity for real-time interaction with students.

That said, there’s a little-known benefit to teaching online that can be used to create extremely engaging experiences.

When teaching in-person classes, it’s normal to have your thinking centered on “classes.” Whether a 75-minute class, 90-minute class, etc., we know that we have X-amount of things we want to cover in that amount of time. However, an online class doesn’t have the same time constraints.

We have found that it’s helpful to shift from a “class” structure to focus on creating “ah-ha” experiences for our students. Start by thinking about the ah-ha moments you have in your in-person classes and write out all of the interactions you have with your students that lead up to that moment. Then start translating each of those interactions online. Once you start thinking on an “interaction” level, as opposed to a “class” level, it’s much easier to… 

Structure your course around creating “ah-ha” experiences.

As we created the online version of our in-person curriculum, we’ve had to tease out the interactive moments between instructor and students and rethink the time frame of these interactions. For example, in an in-person class, the professor can provide a prompt and the students respond in real-time and the entire lesson may only take 30 minutes. Online, this same lesson may span two weeks as the professor provides a prompt, awaits student responses, provides counter-discussion or reflection, etc. While this takes longer calendar-wise, we have found it is possible to create just as engaging of an experience for online students as we have in-person, by focusing primarily on these interactions.

For example, in the first class of our curriculum, we have students write out on post-it notes their fears and curiosities after they graduate. We then have them share their fears and curiosities with someone sitting next to them. We then create post-it note clouds around common themes they share. Then our instructors take those common challenges and map them into their syllabus. Some common fears are:

  • How am I going to find a job?
  • Is my job going to pay enough?
  • Am I going to like my job?

Professors then take these common problems or themes and point towards the places in the syllabus that will help address them. Students then realize, “Oh, even if I don’t want to be an entrepreneur, here’s what I’m going to get out of this class or entrepreneurial skills.” This whole process takes roughly 30 minutes in-person. 

The online version, on the other hand, is more drawn out. First students fill out a survey that says “here are my fears and curiosities.” Then they utilize the aforementioned reflection groups where they’ll talk about their challenges. Then the instructor takes the survey results and makes a video response connecting the dots between their students’ challenges, and their syllabus. So, the interaction takes longer in terms of calendar time but creates the same “ah-ha” moment as students realize the value entrepreneurship skills can have on their lives, even if they don’t see themselves becoming entrepreneurs. 


Transitioning to teaching online can be challenging, but it can also be extremely effective. If you want to make sure your students:

  • Avoid cramming
  • Feel connected to you and your other students
  • Engage fully in your class

We recommend:

  1. Having multiple touch points per week
  2. Group assignments w/ individual reflections
  3. Everyone record videos with webcams
  4. Use discussion boards for personal reflections
  5. Replicate your interactions, not your classes, online

If you’d like more tips on running successful online classes, subscribe here to get the next one in your inbox.

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If you have any suggestions to fix the mistakes above or want to recommend any mistakes we missed, please let us know!

In the meantime… 

We Need Your Questions!

During this time of uncertainty, we want to hear what challenges you’re running into, and questions you have. We’re eager to experiment with ways to serve the teaching community, but like good innovators, we want to make sure we’re solving real problems.

What's Your Biggest Teaching Challenge?

In my role as USASBE President-elect, I’m hosting a USASBE Virtual Town Hall on March 25th, where we’ll discuss your challenges in detail. Answering the question above, or clicking the image below, will register you for the discussion, and make sure you get the recording afterward.

Register Here for the USASBE Town Hall

Our Curriculum

If you’re looking for a structured, comprehensive, and engaging experiential entrepreneurship curriculum you can run with your students in person, or online, check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Used at more than 80 colleges and universities, ExEC helps students feel connected with you, and one another, while they learn practical entrepreneurial skills regardless of their career path.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo


Tech Tools to Increase Engagement

Tech Tools to Increase Engagement

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:

  • Glazed eyes
  • Distracted fidgeting
  • Lethargic discussions

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
  • Pre-built templates
  • 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.


Click Here for Our Marvel App Lesson Plan




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).

Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

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

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Creating Rigorous But Accessible Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

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.
teaching entrepreneurship stanford

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. 

entrepreneurship lesson plans online

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.

entrepreneurial lesson plans online

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:

entrepreneurship lesson plans
entrepreneurship lesson plan

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 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:

college entrepreneurship lessons

Don’t Take Our Word for it

teaching entrepreneurship lessons

No Matter Where You’re Teaching

Our goal continues to be to move the art and science of teaching entrepreneurship forward. Customer Interviewing Cards and the Inventors vs. Entrepreneurs presentation are just a few the experiential exercises we’ve created. If you’d like to see how the Inventor vs. Entrepreneur lesson can work in your classroom, click to learn more. We hope you give them a shot, and if you, and your students enjoy, check out the full Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC).


Click Here for Our Stanford Presentation




It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers, so you’re welcome to share it.



Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

Town Hall with President-Elect Doan Winkel

Town Hall with President-Elect Doan Winkel

If you haven’t already heard, Doan Winkel, one of’s co-founders, has been elected as USASBE’s President for 2021! 

Teaching Entrepreneurship University

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

teaching entrepreneurship online

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:






Hope you can join us, or at least watch the recording. 


Register here for the Virtual-Town Hall. 

A Better Way to Teach Entrepreneurship Online

A Better Way to Teach Entrepreneurship Online

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. 

This shift has inspired us to run an experiment this semester, creating a special version of ExEC that:

  • Teaches entrepreneurship online
  • Using the same experiential, interactive, approach we use for in-person classes
  • That creates meaningful connections between students and professors

And most importantly…

Builds students’ entrepreneurial skills, regardless of where their career takes them!

Coming Fall 2020

teac entrepreneurship onlineThis spring, we, the founding team of are alpha testing the first version of ExEC online at John Carroll University.

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 
  • Quick-grading rubrics

…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



Think, Pair, Share: More Engaging Class Discussions

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?

entrepreneurship lesson plans

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. 

entrepreneurial lesson plans

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:

  1. Sharing with a partner is less intimidating than speaking in front of the entire class.
  2. It gives the students practice putting their ideas into words and clarify their thoughts.
  3. It gives the students validation as they discover what they have to say is well-received and makes sense to someone else.
  4. (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)
  • Use technology like a mindmapping tool to organize their different ideas
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.

Key Takeaways

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.

Get the Worksheet


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.

Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

    Back to Back Winners at USASBE 2020

    Back to Back Winners at USASBE 2020

    At this year’s USASBE conference, we were incredibly humbled to win the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Exercises Awards again, this time with our Lottery Ticket Dilemma lesson plan!

    Winning the 3E competition is the highest achievement an entrepreneurship exercise designer can win – we like to think of it as the Super Bowl for entrepreneurial pedagogy nerds (that’s us!).

    We were privileged to have 4 out of the 10 exercises selected for the awards, including our popular 60 Minute MVP lesson plan which was a finalist and has recently been published in the Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy Journal. Slides for all of these lessons are available below.

    One of our founders, Doan Winkel, became President-Elect of USASBE. We look forward to his leadership of this great organization.
    Educational Materials

    In addition to our annual happy hour, we hosted our first-ever Innovator’s dinner.

    Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

    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!
    Teaching Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans
    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:

    Education Lesson Plans
    Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

    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!

    Entrepreneurship Education Online
    If you want access to our slides from USASBE, you can access them here.
    Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans
    Countdown to USASBE 2020

    Countdown to USASBE 2020

    See You In New Orleans!

    Our team is busy getting ready for the USASBE conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference gives space for entrepreneurship educators to come together to share innovative research and experiential ideas for teaching entrepreneurship.

    USASBE Entrepreneurship Exercises

    Eat & Drink with Us

    Teaching Entrepreneurship USASBE
    • Enjoy great food and drink
    • Connect with like-minded professionals
    • Get inspired with thought-provoking conversation
    Behind the Scenes of our Last Happy Hour

    See Our Lesson Plans in Action

    We’re leading 6 talks this year during the conference:

    Sunday Sessions

    Normalizing Failing through the Wish Game (Sunday @ 9:30 am in Chamber III)

    This exercise was borrowed from faculty at Stanford University and developed into the foundation of an MBA Entrepreneurship course to teach entrepreneurship skills by classmates iteratively delivering wishes for each other. This exercise is a powerful path to students learning entrepreneurial skills like ideation, customer interviewing, prototyping, selling, and mobilizing resources, all in the context of creating memorable experiences for their fellow classmates.

    60 Minute MVP (Sunday @ 9:30 am in Conti)

    The 60 Minute MVP is an intense and exciting exercise that teaches critical aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset and lean start-up methodology, namely the iterative process of hypothesis testing through the creation of minimum viable products (MVPs). In 60 minutes, with no prior technical expertise, students work in teams to design a landing page, create an explainer video, and set up a way to measure pre-launch demand from prospective customers by accepting pre-orders or email addresses. 

    What Happens When (Female) Students Dare to Dream? (Sunday @ 3:15 pm in Lafitte)

    There are not enough female students in entrepreneurship and innovation programs and career paths. This expose will introduce a proven program that successfully addresses this inequity: a series of college-student driven events targeting the entrepreneurial confidence, vulnerability, and action of high school students (particularly female students). Participants will learn the framework for how these high-impact events can be developed and delivered in any university setting and scaled to a city-wide event, and to intensive summer camps and overnight retreats.

    Monday Sessions

    Customer Interviewing: Learning the Basics Through Gamification (Monday @ 9:30 am in Bienville)

    This is a fun, interactive exercise will demonstrate to students: What their problem interviewing goals should be and should not be, and based on those goals; What questions they should and should not ask during customer interviews; Educators follow up the card game by giving students an interview script template they can use as the basis for their problem discovery interviews. After students experience this exercise, they will have a robust customer interview script they can use to increase the quality of their interviews, and their confidence in conducting them. 

    Entrepreneurs vs Inventors: The Lottery Ticket Dilemma (Monday @ 9:30 am in Bienville)

    This exercise provides a fun, experiential way for students to conceptualize customer behavior, and identify business opportunities, by demonstrating it’s not actually customer problems that drive behavior, it’s customer emotions. After this game-based activity, students understand why some products are successful even if they don’t solve an obvious problem, and how to leverage that fact to identify non-problem based opportunities. Attendees to this session will get to experience the lesson themselves, and leave with a lesson plan they can use to integrate this exercise in their classes.

    Fears & Curiosities: Engaging ALL Students on Day 1 (Monday @ 1:45 pm in Chamber III)

    This exercise helps students understand the value of their entrepreneurship classes, even if they never envision themselves becoming an entrepreneur, helping them engage with the class from the first day. The exercise starts with students sharing their fears and curiosities about life after college in a fun and engaging way. After this exercise, students will understand the value of what they are about to learn in their entrepreneurship course, regardless of their relationship to entrepreneurship.

    We hope to see you at one of our sessions or join us for a drink and dinner. Invite a friend! The more the merrier.

    Federico, Doan & Justin

    Teaching Entrepreneurship

    2019’s Most Popular Lesson Plans

    2019’s Most Popular Lesson Plans

    “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.

    Student Idea Generation Lesson

    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

    View Idea Generation Lesson Plan

    4. Transform Your Student’s Customer Interviews

    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 
    • Minimizes preparation for the instructor

    Get the “How to Interview Customers” Lesson Plan

    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.
    Identifying Early Adopters 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?

    View the Finding Early Adopters Lesson Plan

    2. Coaching for Entrepreneurship Students

    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.

    Popular Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans
    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

    View the “Coach Your Students” Lesson Plan

    1. The True Meaning of Minimum Viable Product

    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
    Minimum Viable Product Experiential Exercise

    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

    View 60 Minute MVP Lesson Plan

    Bonus: The Power of Customer Observations

    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.

    Customer Observations Lesson Plan

    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,

    this lesson won first place in the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Exercises Awards at the USASBE 2019 Annual Conference!

    View Teaching Customer Observations Lesson Plan

    Want an Experiential + Structured Curriculum?

    If you’re looking for a comprehensive, tested, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum to use next semester, that fully engages your students, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

    Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum and we’ll get you set up!

    Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

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    Students Don’t See the Value of a Textbook: Dr. Samantha Fairclough

    Students Don’t See the Value of a Textbook: Dr. Samantha Fairclough

      It’s a struggle for every professor to keep their class engaged.

    In an over-stimulated culture, we are at a disadvantage to create an environment where students aren’t constantly looking at their laptops or phones. To keep their eyes up and maintain their interest can sometimes seem like lofty goals.

    Kim Pichot - Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Professor

    Dr. Samantha Fairclough understands that struggle. As an Assistant Professor of Practice at University of Nebraska-Lincoln & the Associate Director of the UNL Center for Entrepreneurship, she feels personal and professional pressure to make sure she maintains a high level of student engagement.

    As she prepared to teach her Managing Growth and Change class recently, she realized she had to make a change.

      She knew the way she previously taught “isn’t working for me. The students hate it. I hate it. I don’t enjoy the book.”

    Entrepreneurship Alternative to Textbook Learning

    She decided to ditch all textbooks and was searching for readings and articles she could use instead when she found the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC).

    After using the ExEC 60 minute MVP lesson from the website in her current creativity class as a pilot for using the entire ExEC curriculum, she was pleased by the great buzz of energy and student engagement. 

      Dr. Fairclough describes being blown away with the kinds of things her students came up with.
    Teaching Entrepreneurship Curriculum

    Fully Adopting the ExEC Entrepreneurship Curriculum 

    From websites to explainer videos, the lesson was such a great moment and garnered such positive results, she decided she was ready to adopt the full ExEC curriculum with her next group of students.

    The timing also seemed right for change because she felt she had the right group of students to try something new. Instead of pushing her class of entrepreneurially minded students into a lecture-based system, Dr. Fairclough fully embraced the ExEC curriculum and found that the tools and techniques worked from day 1.

    Making it Real Lesson Plan

    Using the Making it Real lesson plan, Samantha got the students together in the downtown Lincoln area. She gave each group $5 (in singles) and told them to make as much money as possible in 30 minutes. The winning group would split the winnings. This lesson proved to be a great kick-off for introducing the ExEC philosophy. 

      “One of the joys of this class is, it’s so interactive, there’s a lot of engagement.”

    Students returned to class filled with energy and excitement. One group took a temporary job to make money, while another sold shares in their future winnings. The creativity of the ideas combined with the feedback from her students made it obvious to Samantha that the kids loved the exercise.  Coverage of their experience on social media gained some great exposure on campus too. Word of the positive experience continued to spread, even reaching the Dean’s office.

    Similar to other entrepreneurship professors, Samantha wants her students to enjoy learning. She found that having a great rapport with her students starts with the material that lays a foundation for a solid experience and exchange of ideas.

    Pressure from Above

    “As an entrepreneurship professor, I strive to be the best and receive the highest evaluation scores from students,” Samantha shared. “Across the board, those of us who teach entrepreneurship are expected to have interactive, experiential classes. This creates a pressure to continuously find new and effective ways to do that in a way students enjoy but isn’t cumbersome for us as educators.”

    Additionally, professors feel added pressure from their institution to remain on the cutting edge of teaching methods. The unspoken thought being if the professor does not create an interactive class that elicits great feedback, they’re not teaching effectively.

    Ditch the Textbook: Start Engaging

    ExEC was designed to help you engage all of your students without requiring significant prep time.

    If you’re, like Dr. Fairclough, looking for a curriculum that

    • Engages every student
    • Provides structured, skill-building, real-world experiences
    • Has comprehensive support for easy adoption

    request a preview of our ExEC curriculum here.

    Teaching Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

    Samantha Isn’t Alone! Read More Case Studies of ExEC Instructors

    Related Articles

    We’re committed to providing content that will help our community of entrepreneurship educators remain on the forefront of the field. Here is a list of some recent posts we think you’ll find valuable for your next class:

    • Textbooks Don’t Work. More and more professors are finding textbooks are not an effective way to teach entrepreneurship. Experiences are. Engage your students with the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.
    • Idea Generation vs. Problem Generation. Idea generation is one of the most difficult aspects of teaching entrepreneurship. We share an alternative to idea generation that will quickly help your students generate ideas.
    • How to Teach MVP’s. In this exercise, students will design their first MVP by identifying their riskiest business model assumption. They’ll then design the simplest experiment they can to test that riskiest assumption. 

    Ready to Take Student Engagement to the Next Level?

    We email new experiential entrepreneurship lesson plans regularly.

    Subscribe here to get our next lesson plan in your inbox!

    We engage students in practicing skills, actively. Class time should be spent learning by doing, with professors guiding students through an experience where they can see the material come to life in a way that is meaningful for them. We built that experience for you and for your students.

    Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum