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3 Exercises to Start Your Course

3 Exercises to Start Your Course

Each semester we ask the thousands of students using our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum a few questions to understand the challenges they face:

  • What’s the hardest part about being a student?
  • Why is that hard?

What we learn informs our curriculum development. It also helps me, as a professor, formulate a strategy to approach my first day of class so it will be memorable, engaging, and so students want to come back for the 2nd day.

The main challenges we hear are:

  1. Time management
  2. Knowing what they want out of life
  3. Staying focused
  4. Staying positive

Students struggle because they balance so many roles – student, athlete, leader, friend, child, teammate, and so on. They share with us general strategies they use to combat the stress and anxiety they face, such as scheduling their days, having an accountability buddy, asking “adults” for help, etc.

Mostly what we hear is that students don’t carve out the time to dig into what matters to them and how they can leverage their college experience to prepare for a meaningful career around what matters to them.

Understanding the challenges our students face gives us the foundation upon which we can change their path. If we build our course experience knowing they struggle with things like time management, finding meaning, and staying focused, we engage them and provide them tools to become successful.

Here we share three exercises that help students think about what is meaningful to them. Implementing these exercises gives you a chance to map your course learning objectives, modules, and assignments onto specific issues students bring up.

They will feel engaged. But more importantly, they will see your course as useful.

#3: Curiosities + Fears = Engagement

The key to engaging students is making lessons personally relevant.

To discover what matters to your students, you can ask two simple questions:

  1. “When you think of life after college, what are you curious about?
  2. “When you think of life after college, what are you afraid of?”

When you ask students to brainstorm their fears and curiosities individually, and then in small groups, your class will buzz with excited and nervous energy about the future. 

Then when you ask students to share what they came up with, you’ll instantly know how to make entrepreneurship relevant: yours is the class where they’ll get to learn about their curiosities, and allay their fears.
Launch class by focusing on students fears and curiosities

This exercise will help you discover your students’ fears and curiosities – which will likely revolve around making money and finding a job they like after they graduate. While it may not be your natural inclination to help solve those problems for your students during an entrepreneurship course, those topics are the key to fully engaging your customers (i.e. students), because those are the problems they care about most.

Students start by jotting down fears that come to mind when they think of life after graduation. You might ask a few students to share, to help create a safe environment where students can be vulnerable.

Students next jot down what they are most curious about when they think of life after college. For this part of the exercise, using a think-pair-share structure will help students connect. As students begin sharing the curiosities they identified in pairs, use a (digital) whiteboard to identify categories that are consistent across the entire class. You will likely end up with categories related to employment, financial, and social concerns.

Your goal here is to show your students how the material and skills they will learn and practice in your course map onto the things they are currently curious about.

You want to rephrase and connect their curiosities to demonstrate you’ve heard your students well and understand them. For example, “It sounds like you’re curious how to find a job you’ll like, you’re good at, and can make enough money at. Does that sound right?”

This is a critical part of this lesson, you’re asking for your students’ buy-in. The better job you do listening to your students’ curiosities and incorporating them into your description of how you’ll resolve them, the more engaged your students will be throughout the course.

Thank your students for any input to clarify, and tell them that their curiosities align well with your objectives for the course. Tell your students how your course is designed to teach them exactly what they’re most curious about:

Tell them if they are curious about finding a job they’ll like, they will test out several jobs in this class, such as:

    • Sales
    • Marketing
    • Product Design
    • Finance
    • Graphic/web design
    • Being your own boss/CEO

If your students are curious about what it takes to get a good job, you can tell them the vast majority of people get their job based on personal recommendations from someone in their network, and that in this class, they’ll learn the skills they need to grow their network, so they can find better job opportunities.

To maximize student buy-in, this exercise allows you to frame the course for your students in a way that will fulfill their curiosities.

Your Course in Students’ Context

Return next class session with the fear and curiosity categories mapped onto the content/lessons/modules/skills you cover in the course. For instance, if you lay out each week in your syllabus with the topics you will cover, add one column for “Fears” and one for “Curiosities”. List in each column the fear and curiosity categories to which each particular topic relates.

This last step is the most critical. It is your chance to reinforce the connection between the course material and the things your students are currently thinking about. Show them how you will give them the tools to address each one of their fears, and each one of their curiosities.

Students Now Have the Context to Launch

After this activity, your students will understand the value of what they are about to learn. They will be more engaged because the learning is now very real for them.

Click here for the complete lesson plan of the Student Fears and Curiosities exercise.


Want 30+ Lessons Like These?

If you are looking for a fully structured, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum, with a semester’s worth of lesson plans that students love, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Check out ExEC.


#2: High-Functioning Teams on Day 1

Your students will work in teams, but they’re not looking forward to it. Helping them form functional teams will increase both their motivation throughout your course. 

The Skills Scavenger Hunt is not only a fun way for students to get to meet one another, it’ll help them discover who in the class can help them build a diverse team with aligned goals.

Launch class with a skills scavenger hunt to create high-performance teams

During this quick exercise, students go on a scavenger hunt to find other students with complementary skills in the following categories:

  1. Graphics
  2. Technology
  3. Social Media
  4. Design
  5. Sales
  6. Marketing

Students progress through each section, checking any boxes for skills they possess so they find students with complementary skills. Split students into groups, in which students go through each box, and if they possess that skill they share, in 30 seconds or less, details about how/why they achieved that experience.

As this process evolves, each student writes down names and quick notes about any students who possess skills they don’t possess. We suggest shuffling groups at least 1 or 2 more times, to allow students to learn about as many of their classmates as possible.

After the class session, students should post in a discussion board on your LMS what skills they possess and a quick sentence about that particular skill. Students with gaps in their worksheet can identify other students to fill those gaps on this discussion board.

As students meet each other and learn more about their classmates, they set themselves up to execute better, and conflict less, by successfully assembling their own high-performing teams.

Click here for the complete Skills Scavenger Hunt exercise!

#1: Uncover Their Passions

Students who come into our classes passionate about entrepreneurship are easy to engage. 

How do we engage students who aren’t passionate about launching a company? Help them discover what they are passionate about…and help them launch that!

Launch class with the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

The Pilot Your Purpose exercise help students explore areas that motivate them:

  1. Interests that spark their curiosity
  2. Skills they want to develop
  3. People they want to impact

The combination of these three elements defines a purpose for your students – a personal mission statement that taps into their passions to help others.

Once students have a purpose, you can ground each class session in that purpose. You don’t have to talk abstractly about difficult or stressful topics like customer interviewing or entrepreneurial finance. Instead, your class becomes an opportunity for students to pursue their purpose!

Your class becomes an opportunity for students to pursue their purpose!

Interests + Skills = Passion

The easiest on-ramp to identifying passion is interests. Students think about:

  1. What friends say they always talk about
  2. What they would spend time doing if money was no object
  3. What they were learning about the last time they lost track of time watching Youtube or scrolling on social media

The next step is identifying skills students think about. Similar to interests, students do this by thinking about:

  1. What friends say they are good at
  2. What they would like to get better at doing
  3. What they think they are above average at doing

To identify their passion, students:

  1. Look back at their interests sheet and jot down what excites them
  2. Look back at their skills sheet and jot down what they are interested in getting better at
  3. Think of ways to combine interests and skills

Pilot Your Purpose: Passion

Passion + Impact = Purpose

With a passion identified, students now turn to the impact they want to have on the world. To do that, students think about:

  1. Groups of people they’re excited to help
  2. Problems in their community they’re interested in solving
  3. Global problems they’re interested in solving

Students are now ready to identify their purpose:

  1. Look back at their Passion sheet and jot down what stands out
  2. Look back at their Impact sheet and jot down what stands out
  3. Think of ways to combine passion and impact (which is their purpose)

Pilot Your Purpose: Purpose

When your students identify a specific purpose, they can weave it throughout the rest of the course, as they are developing their entrepreneurial mindset and skill set.

As you begin each module of your course, students will stay motivated as they see the direct application of the particular material to their purpose!

Get your copy of the Pilot Your Purpose Worksheet here!


Want 30+ Lessons Like These?

If you are looking for a fully structured, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum, with a semester’s worth of lesson plans that students love, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Check out ExEC.


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we’ll share a new exercise for helping to normalize failure so students fear it less.

Subscribe here to get our next exercise in your inbox.

2020 Top Free Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans & Tools

2020 Top Free Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans & Tools

“Your posts help me keep my students engaged – they and I thank you!” – ExEC Professor

Based on the popularity of our 2019 Top 5 Lesson Plans article, here is the list of our 2020 top entrepreneurship lesson plans based on feedback from our fast-growing community of thousands of entrepreneurship instructors.

We designed the following exercises and lesson plans to transform your students’ experience as they learn how to stay engaged online, interview customers, and form teams.

5. Gamify Your Lectures

We all struggled during this year of online learning to keep our students engaged. One surefire way to inject excitement into your class is to gamify your lectures. In this lesson, we explain how to use our favorite gamification tools (Slido and Kahoot!) to minimize Zoom zombie syndrome in your students.

These tools allow you to convert concepts you need to cover into questions your students explore one at a time. With this formative assessment approach, you discover what your students already know and what they need help with. Additionally, this approach activates passive students and invites students to teach each other.

Be careful using gamification; don’t overdo it. This gamification technique is great, but if you use it too often its benefits will wear off. Instead, mix this approach up with a number of experiential exercises (like those in the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum).

View Directions to Gamify Your Class with Slido and Kahoot!

4. Skills Scavenger Hunt

Students in high-performance teams learn better and perform better. But how do we move students beyond forming teams with friends and teammates? Students matched on aligned goals and diverse skills give them their best chance at boosting their learning capability.

We developed our Skills Scavenger Hunt to facilitate that process and thus mitigate the biggest drawbacks of student team projects. In this exercise, students go on a scavenger hunt to find other students with complementary skills.

skills scavenger hunt online ice breaker team building animation

With this unique exercise, students form high-performing teams by going on a scavenger hunt to find other students with complementary skills in the following categories:

  1. Graphics
  2. Technology
  3. Social Media
  4. Design
  5. Sales
  6. Marketing

If your students are in teams that are dysfunctional, or just sleepy, their learning can come to a screeching halt as they disengage. Empower them to successfully assemble their own high-performing teams so they execute better and conflict less.

View The Skills Scavenger Hunt Exercise

3. Steve Blank Discusses How to Teach Entrepreneurship

At the USASBE 2020 annual conference, we had the privilege of interviewing entrepreneurship education guru Steve Blank. In the first of two posts, he shared his perspective on how to teach entrepreneurship. Steve Blank Talking about How to Teach Entrepreneurship

In a post loaded with great advice for any novice or expert entrepreneurship educator, Steve opened up about his many decades of experience as an entrepreneur, educator, and mentor. Read the full post for a wealth of invaluable information, but the quick takeaways are:

  1. Educators need a mentor. Effective entrepreneurship educators need expertise in the domains of education and entrepreneurship. Steve advises us to find a mentor in the domain in which we lack experience and expertise.
  2. Educators should train entrepreneurs like artists. Steve encourages us to forget about teaching answers, and instead design learning experiences so students can practice skill-building.
  3. Students learn skills by practicing them. Steve encourages us to learn to design effective learning experiences, as those are the best way to teach our students skills.

Read An Overview of the 1st Half of Our Interview Here

(and Read the 2nd Half Here)

2. 10 Free Tools to Increase Student Engagement

During the TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Virtual Conference, we presented 10 tools to increase online student engagement. Learn about these free quiz, video, digital whiteboard, and presentation tools like Gimkit, Note.ly, Mural, and Loom.

You can sprinkle these tools throughout your entrepreneurship syllabus, or stack them like building blocks, to create a deeper face-to-face or online student engagement. Below is a video recap of the conference presentation.

We consistently experiment with a wide variety of tools to help our community of entrepreneurship educators provide engaging experiences for their students. For this post, we curated the 10 tools we feel provide the greatest chance of deeply engaging learning experiences for your students, whether you’re teaching face-to-face or online.

View 10 Free Tools to Increase Student Engagement

1. Lottery Ticket Dilemma

We urge our faculty to focus students on their customers’ emotional needs, which leads to more valuable customer interviews. During this exercise, students discover how important emotions are in the decision-making process and the importance of understanding and fulfilling other people’s emotional needs.

If your students focus more on their products than their customers’ problems, this lesson plan is for you! In this exercise, students learn:

  • Why the majority of startups end in failure, & how to avoid those failures
  • That customer decisions are driven by their emotions
  • To create products customers want to buy we need to understand the emotional journey they want to take

View Lottery Ticket Dilemma Lesson Plan
In addition to our community thinking this is a powerful experience in the classroom, this exercise also won first place in the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Exercises Awards at the USASBE 2020 Annual Conference!

Entrepreneurship Education

Want 15 Weeks of Lesson Plans?

If you are looking for a fully structured, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum, with a semester’s worth of lesson plans that students love, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

We’ve done the work for you.

Winter Summit Invite

Winter Summit Invite

Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit
Last summer we had a blast launching our new “Pilot Your Purpose” and “Skills Scavenger Hunt” exercises and sharing best practices with 1,350+ entrepreneurship teachers like you at the 
 
 
Entrepreneurship Educators Attending the Teaching Entrepreneurship Summit
In fact, we had such a good time…

We’re doing it again…with more new exercises!

Join us at the Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit for two interactive days of workshops and exercises.

REGISTER NOW!

Dec. 9th
How to Build an App
(without writing code)

So many of our students want to launch apps but don’t think they have the skills. On Dec. 9th, that will change.

Join us to learn how your students can create their own apps, by creating one yourself, without writing a single line of code!

Plus, meet and share best practices for prototyping and MVPs with other entrepreneurship instructors from around the world.

Dec. 16th
Entrepreneurial Plinko:

Why Business Plans Don’t Work

This new game will teach your students why business plans are falling out of favor and being replaced by:

  • Business Models
  • Customer Interviews
  • Design Thinking and
  • MVPs

Combining Plinko with Tinder, this game will demonstrate why we don’t emphasize business plans anymore while getting students excited about running business model experiments instead!

Join us at the Teaching Entrepreneurship Winter Summit to:

  • Play the game
  • Get access for your students
  • Get a lesson plan on how to use it!

Early Bird Tickets Available!

REGISTER NOW!

We know budgets are tight right now so we’re offering a new “Live Access Only” ticket free of charge.

Or if you’d like to have recordings and slides from the Summit:

Register before Dec. 2nd for $100 off the Full Access ticket.

REGISTER NOW!


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:

  • Slido: Our Favorite Tool for Online Engagement. Zoom fatigue is ruining student engagement in online classes. Use Slido to inject energy and interaction into your online classes.
  • Less Time = More Engagement. Teaching entrepreneurship online to engage students is hard. Use the “best entrepreneurship curriculum available” to WOW! your students this Spring and spend less time preparing and more time engaging.
  • Gamify Your Online Class. Don’t lecture at your students. Invite them into a game to learn the material. If you gamify your online class sessions, your students engage and perform!
  • Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus. This online entrepreneurship syllabus is an innovative online experience that is asynchronous with multiple touchpoints, skills-based, and experiential.

Want More Engaged Students?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on all major learning management system
Preview ExEC Now

 

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.

3 (Easier) Ways to Combine Your Camera and Slides

3 (Easier) Ways to Combine Your Camera and Slides

Our previous article on how to combine your slides and webcam to engage students was a hit because…

Combine slides and camera to engage students

Only trouble was, it was a little complicated to get this technique working. Fortunately, new tools have come along, and now…

It’s much easier to integrate your webcam in your slides!

Easiest Solution if you Use Zoom

In Zoom, your presentation can now be your virtual background!

Combine slides and camera to engage entrepreneurship students

This setup puts you directly on top of your slides, so you can interact with your slides as you’re leading your students through them.

What It Looks Like

How to Do It

For the step-by-step instructions, read this article from Zoom.

Caveats

While this is a wonderfully simple solution, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • It’s beta functionality, meaning Zoom is actively working on it. There might be rough edges to the experience for a few more months.
  • For the best effect, your computer needs to be able to support Zoom’s virtual backgrounds
  • It doesn’t support animations in your slides. If you have animations you want to keep, there’s a tool called PPspliT that may help you split each of your animations into separate static slides.

Easiest Solution if You Use a Mac

If Zoom’s slide virtual backgrounds won’t do the trick for you and you’re on a Mac, the next easiest option is to use the new mmhmm app.

Similar to the solution for Zoom users outlined above, mmhmm allows you to show content “over your shoulder” and dive into an immersive full-screen presentation. Like the Zoom setup above, this experience engages your students in an interactive experience.

Mmhmm integrates with Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet, and a few others.

Recent updates now allow for full compatibility with any video app that allows screen sharing!

Setting Up mmhmm

Step 1: Open the app

Step 2: If you use a green screen, click the Camera button in the top right corner, and click the I have a green screen box. If you don’t have a green screen, use the Presenter sidebar and experiment with the SilhouetteRound and Portrait mask tools to frame yourself. With mmhmm, you can use the resizer to shrink and grow yourself and your images to direct your viewers’ attention exactly where you want it to be.

Step 3: Click the Rooms sidebar to choose your background image. You can choose from the always-growing variety included, or you can upload your own image or video to use as a background.

Step 4: Add your slides in the Slide Tray at the bottom of the mmhmm screen. 

Step 5: Once you have your slides and camera set up, share your screen in your respective platform (Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) and choose the mmhmm tab to present your interactive, engaging presentation. With new features shipping all the time, mmhmm continues to offer ways to WOW! your students. For instance, they recently released the Copilot feature, so now two people can work together on the same presentation.

As with the Zoom solution outlined earlier, mmhmm is not a perfect solution. This app is currently in beta functionality, meaning mmhmm is actively working on it so there might be bugs and some rough edges to the experience.

Additionally, this app is only for Mac users – while they promise a Windows version is on the way soon, it does not currently exist.

Easiest Universal Solution

While a little more involved, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is the original and most powerful way to combine your slides and webcam.

OBS works on Windows and Mac, and with virtually all web conference software tools. 

Combine slides and camera to engage students

Fortunately, the process of using OBS to achieve this effect has been greatly simplified.

Click here for our easier instructions for using OBS to create engaging presentations.

See It In Action

We hope you give this technique a shot – it helps students stay engaged and it’s a more fun way to lecture.

To see a recorded online session that uses these techniques to combine webcam and slides, add your email:


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:

  • Slido: Our Favorite Tool for Online Engagement. Zoom fatigue is ruining student engagement in online classes. Use Slido to inject energy and interaction into your online classes.
  • Less Time = More Engagement. Teaching entrepreneurship online to engage students is hard. Use the “best entrepreneurship curriculum available” to WOW! your students this Spring and spend less time preparing and more time engaging.
  • Gamify Your Online Class. Don’t lecture at your students. Invite them into a game to learn the material. If you gamify your online class sessions, your students engage and perform!
  • Online Entrepreneurship Syllabus. This online entrepreneurship syllabus is an innovative online experience that is asynchronous with multiple touchpoints, skills-based, and experiential.

Want More Engaged Students?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on all major learning management system
Preview ExEC Now

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.

Less Time = More Engagement

Less Time = More Engagement

Teaching online is harder:

  • Your students (and you!) get Zoom fatigue
  • Hybrid teaching provides extra challenges
  • Students start to disengage

…and the whole thing takes more of your time to manage.

This spring, if you want to save time while engaging your students online, use “the best entrepreneurship curriculum available” – 15 weeks of structured, cohesive, interactive lessons that will engage your students.

Teaching Entrepreneurship Online To Engage Students

Increase Student Engagement

ExEC is an experience, for both our professors and students. Instead of you having to talk at students, the exercises invite your students to learn by doing, so they engage themselves. For example, you can…

Engage Students in Ideation

In many entrepreneurship courses, students brainstorm ideas to work on based on a Bug List or some other sort of brainstorming exercise. These exercises don’t take advantage of students’ passions and can fail to engage them.

Ideation in ExEC starts with brainstorming their ideal customers. Your students start by understanding the emotional needs of people they are attached to (i.e. people they are passionate about helping). Those needs become the foundation of their business ideas, ensuring students are motivated throughout your course.

Example Idea Generation
Idea Generation Worksheet

We know customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to problems – and right now people’s problems have changed dramatically. The idea generation exercises within ExEC will your students how to identify new opportunities they’re excited about that are inspired by real-world problems.

Engage in Interviews Done Right

Entrepreneurship students must learn how to effectively talk to customers to discover and validate their problems. ExEC uses a three-step experiential process to engage students in this skill. First, students play a competitive game to learn what questions they should and should not ask.

Learn to Interview Customers

When you run this exercise, your students will be immersed as they eagerly sort cards into different piles and compete with one another using their phones to see who can correctly answer the most questions, the fastest.

The second step is for students to practice their interview skills with their classmates. ExEC provides students with a robust interview script, which they’ll practice multiple times with their peers so they can feel more comfortable for step #3 – interviewing real customers.

Engage Students in Customer Interviewing with a Customer Interviewing Script

Finally, for the third step, your students will students interview customers the right way, at which point…

The learning becomes real!

Give your students a structured framework to conduct their interviews increases their confidence and, as a result, ensures they don’t disengage when you ask them to step out of their comfort zone.

Make Hybrid Easier

For better or worse, hybrid teaching is the new normal. When you teach online or hybrid, with proper planning you can replicate the engagement of all the experiences you’d do in-person.

Teaching Entrepreneurship Online To Engage Students

When we designed the online version of ExEC, we conducted considerable research on the best resources to increase online engagement.

We built each class session, each activity, each homework assignment to bring our award-winning engagement into an online environment. With ExEC, you engage students through elements like:

  • Virtual Post-It note exercises with all students simultaneously
  • Class-wide discussions including everyone
  • Small-group breakouts

Using a structured set of lessons like the ones in ExEC enables you to have modular exercises you can integrate into your online or hybrid course to ensure your class is engaging.

Teaching Entrepreneurship Online Professor Testimonial

Plus ExEC offers fully online and hybrid course packages for you on:

  • Canvas
  • Brightspace / D2L
  • Moodle
  • Blackboard

With the right curriculum and enough time to prepare, online learning can be better than in-person.

We will make your hybrid teaching easier.

If you’re teaching entrepreneurship online, you can have an engaging class without reinventing the wheel.Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Keep Students Motivated

Students spend hours each day on Zoom listening to professors lecturing them. Then they spend hours each night on a computer completing homework and in group meetings. Zoom fatigue is a huge impediment to student engagement – our students have to make more emotional effort to appear interested, and the intense focus on sustained eye contact is exhausting.

Learning on Zoom isn’t fun. It isn’t exciting. Unless you can engage students with something like ExEC!

Engage Students with ExEC Exercises

ExEC launches on day one with a super-engaging exercise called “Fear, Curiosity, and Toothbrushes”. Students interactively share their fears and curiosities about life after graduation. Professors map this information onto the syllabus to show students how the class will benefit them personally, in areas that matter to them.

The second part of this kickoff class is about normalizing failure, using the Toothbrush Design Challenge, which won the 2019 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Exercises Competition at the USASBE Annual Conference. Helping your students recognize the value of failed experiments now, early in the course, will help them make the most of the learning opportunities to follow immediately after this lesson.

The rest of the semester proceeds through a variety of high-energy experiences like the 60-Minute MVP, which one professor described 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 attacks topics students struggle with like finances with fun, game-like experiences like our Financial Projection Simulator.

teaching finance in entrepreneurship

From the first class session to the last class session, we keep you and your students excited and motivated

Make Spring Better

Spring can be more engaging and less stressful for your students. With a cohesive set of experiential:

  • Lesson plans
  • Sample slides
  • Student exercises
  • Rubrics
  • LMS templates

ExEC enables you to deliver an experience your students will never forget!

Best Entrepreneurship Curriculum available

Preview ExEC Now 

 

Slido: Our Favorite Tool for Online Engagement

Slido: Our Favorite Tool for Online Engagement

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

Encourage Anonymous Questions

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

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

Anonymous questions increase interaction.

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

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

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

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

Crystalize Learnings

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

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

Some takeaways from the 2020 TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Summer Virtual Conference

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

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

Quiz Games

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

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

See it All in Action

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

Summary

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

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

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

Custom Online & Hybrid Sample Entrepreneurship Syllabus

Custom Online & Hybrid Sample Entrepreneurship Syllabus

Whether or not your Fall starts online, it is almost certain that your Fall will finish online. As more colleges announce shifts online last week, Inside Higher Ed wrote:

“Colleges and universities [are] conceding that previously announced plans to resume in-person learning are no longer feasible.”

Between the social nature of students, the continuing spread of COVID, and the steps our schools will need to take once students start testing positive, it’s increasingly likely classes in the US will end up online this Fall.

Get Prepared

To help with your preparation, we’ve published an extremely flexible sample syllabus you can customize for just about any learning environment: 

Whether your class ends up:

  1. In-person
  2. Online synchronous
  3. Online asynchronous
  4. Hybrid

…or transitions between them, the sample syllabus will show you how to design an engaging and structured course for Fall.

Comprehensive Online Curriculum

In addition to the sample syllabus, you’ll get a preview of the checklist all of our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) instructors use to prepare their courses.

For more details on using ExEC this Fall, request a full preview of ExEC.

teaching entrepreneurship

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  • Consistently Teaching with Adjuncts. The hardest part about coordinating classes taught by adjuncts is delivering a consistent experience when multiple instructors teach the same course.
Consistently Teach with Faculty & Adjuncts

Consistently Teach with Faculty & Adjuncts

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on every learning management system

Preview ExEC Now

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.

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Skills Scavenger Hunt: Online Icebreaker & Team Building Exercise

Skills Scavenger Hunt: Online Icebreaker & Team Building Exercise

If students don’t form into high-performance teams, their learning curve significantly flattens.

You can create the most amazing content, and deliver it in the most engaging manner. But if your students are in teams that are dysfunctional, or just sleepy, their learning can come to a screeching halt as they disengage.

Students put the course content into practice in their team environment where they apply it to bring ideas that matter to them to life. Student teams formed randomly erode the student (and professor!) experience through internal conflict and apathy.

Helping students form high-functioning teams will boost their learning capability exponentially.

We built our concept of high performing teams on the idea of matching students based on aligned goals and diverse skills. We developed our Skills Scavenger Hunt to facilitate that process and thus mitigate the biggest drawbacks of student team projects.

BONUS: This exercise is also an incredible icebreaker, which is critically important to do in an online course environment.

skills scavenger hunt online ice breaker team building animation

In this exercise, students go on a scavenger hunt to find other students with complementary skills in the following categories:

  1. Graphics
  2. Technology
  3. Social Media
  4. Design
  5. Sales
  6. Marketing

Step 1: What Skills Do You Have?

Each student checks any boxes in all 6 areas that are applicable to them. They may be able to check more than one box in a particular area, and they may not be able to check any boxes in a particular area. This doesn’t matter – the goal with this exercise is for students to identify their gaps in skills and fill them with qualified teammates.

Skills scavenger hunt step 1

If students check any boxes for their skills, that particular column will turn dark grey –  to indicate they do not need to add any potential teammate names or notes.

To see the entire Skills Scavenger Hunt Exercise enter your email below!

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Motivate Students with the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Motivate Students with the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Help your students unlock their purpose, and they will be motivated to learn the entire semester!
Especially in an online environment, you can more easily engage students by tapping into their intrinsic motivation. In other words, learn how to leverage students’ internal drivers and your class sessions will buzz with energy. There is nothing more internally motivating than pursuing one’s purpose. Where students’ interest intersect with their skills represents their passion. When students combine their passion with the impact they want to have on the world, that becomes their purpose. Do this at the beginning of class, and then make every interaction with your students meaningful by tying everything back to their purpose. Pilot Your Purpose Exercise For instance, let’s say a student loves playing video games (their interest). They enjoy learning about and getting better at playing video games, and also writing and performing slam poetry (their skills). That leads the student to imagine streaming their preferred video game while performing slam poetry about competitors (their passion). How could this student create impact?
  • They could create educational video games.
  • They could create video games to help people empathize with people of other races and socioeconomic status.
  • They could raise money through being a Twitch streamer to support causes in their local community.
This purpose becomes the thread that weaves throughout your course. When they practice customer interviewing, or forecasting financial needs, or prototyping, you can link those lessons back to applying those skills to build an educational game company, or whatever they identify their purpose is. And your students stay motivated.
Your students’ purpose is the perfect hook to keep them engaged the entire semester!

Step 1: Interests

To identify their interests, students think about:
  1. What friends say they always talk about
  2. What they would spend time doing if money was no object
  3. What they were learning about the last time they lost track of time watching Youtube or scrolling on social media
Our example student talks to their friends, who say they are always talking about FPS video games (particularly Call of Duty (COD)), skateboarding, and slam poetry. They think about what they would do if money was no object, and they land on playing FPS video games and skydiving (they have never been skydiving, but loves watching videos of skydiving and dreams of going one day to experience the adrenaline rush). Last, they think back to the last time they lost a couple of hours staring at their phone, and it was watching others stream COD on Twitch. Our student now has their interests mapped out, according to what their friends say, what they dream about, and what holds their attention.

Pilot Your Purpose: InterestsStep 2: Skills

To identify their skills, students think about:
  1. What friends say they are good at
  2. What they would like to get better at doing
  3. What they think they are above average at doing
Our example student again talks to their friends, who say they are good at teaching them how to play FPS video games, and at making them laugh. They think about things they do that they would like to be better at. They really love writing and performing slam poetry, but knows from their performances and comparing themself to other performers that they have a lot of room to improve. They also want to get better at playing Call of Duty. Last, they think hard about what they are really good at, and land on playing FPS video games, at mathematics (Calculus, at least), at Adobe Illustrator, and at slam poetry. Our student now has their skills mapped out, according to what their friends say, what skills they want to improve, and what they are already good at.

Pilot Your Purpose: Skills

To see the entire Pilot Your Purpose Exercise enter your email below! The Pilot Your Purpose exercise is a great way to keep your students motivated all semester. You can meet with your students individually after completing this exercise & have them share their purpose so you understand what makes them tick. As you move into each module of your course, you can reference a particular student’s purpose to talk about why the particular module is relevant. For instance, when you introduce a financial module, you might reference our example student and (assuming they are a game designer) how they need to hire a project manager, programmers, 3D artist, and quality assurance specialists to complement their team, pay for servers, legal fees to protect their IP, a 3D engine license, and potentially rent for space for the team to create. As you begin each module, students will stay motivated as they see the direct application of the particular material to their purpose!

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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: