Changing How You Teach Entrepreneurship: Georgann Jouflas
It’s hard to engage students who are simply taking a class.
Like hundreds of educators, Georgann Jouflas was trained to teach entrepreneurship in Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad methodology.
Like hundreds of educators, she struggled to adapt that curriculum from Stanford University and University of Berkeley MBA students to teach her students.
Georgann teaches at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado. The views are spectacular.
So are the students! Georgann eventually came to understand that Stanford and Berkeley MBA students are trying to launch actual companies, whereas her students are taking a class. One or two every so often might want to try starting a business. Because of the different motivations and contexts, she struggled to adapt the Lean Launchpad approach to teach her course.
Georgann struggled to create meaningful learning experiences for her students.
Teaching A Typical Entrepreneurship Course
At Colorado Mesa University, like many other campuses around the world, Georgeann is teaching an entrepreneurship course, not an accelerator cohort. She needed a curriculum that was a better fit for students taking an entrepreneurship course.
She wanted to teach her students how to discover their passion and how to solve problems, not just work with ideas.
Georgann’s students needed to deeply engage with understanding the power of hidden assumptions, and how to prototype.
She wanted her students to understand the importance of customer interviewing, but more importantly, she wanted them to learn how to interview customers.
She knew gathering information from customers was critical, and that her students weren’t really learning that under her current course structure.
Georgann found her students faking validation; they would not get out of the building to interview customers each week because they were not comfortable interviewing people. She felt like a failure because she couldn’t get her students to get out of the building and conduct their interviews.
So, she decided to switch to teach with a new, fully experiential curriculum:
Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum
15 weeks of structured plug-n-play experiential modules covering idea generation, problem validation, customer interviewing, prototyping, financial projections, and more!
The main value to Georgann is that ExEC coaches students into a comfort zone with interviewing customers so they actually do it, learn from it, and gain confidence.
“[I tell my students] if they get good at talking to people . . . listening to their clients, and asking questions, that’s a tremendous skill. So I’m really happy with that. Before they were doing that but they weren’t really doing it, and now we’re validating that they’re doing it.”
Why Teach with the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum?
At the end of each semester using the Lean Launchpad, she was really frustrated with the experience of teaching the course. She didn’t believe her students were learning as much as they could or should, and weren’t very engaged in the learning process. A colleague of hers was sharing her excitement with Georgann about this new way she was teaching her entrepreneurship course. Her colleague was talking about a buzz of activity, about a classroom filled with engagement and excitement, about students deeply learning core entrepreneurial skills. Her colleague shared that she was using ExEC. Georgann got excited about creating this learning environment for her students.
We asked Georgann to share what she likes about using ExEC in her entrepreneurship course:
“The main thing I love is that it really gets [the students] out interviewing people. It gets them comfortable with the process.”
Georgann also shared that she enjoys working with the plug-and-play modules, because they are very easy to follow and to use. She feels empowered because she gets plenty of background material and then the applied exercise with each lesson plan. Perhaps more than anything, Georgann reports that she enjoys the experiential nature of the curriculum, because she isn’t left having to think up what exercises to use to engage the students in the learning.
“Interviewing customers is so far out of their comfort zone, but the interview script generator is tremendous. Before they didn’t know what to ask, so they just didn’t do it. Now they feel more comfortable.”
Georgann rediscovered the excitement of teaching entrepreneurship. Her students enjoyed learning the skills an entrepreneur uses to build something someone wants.
Here is the full interview with Georgann that digs much deeper into her experience searching for a new curriculum and adopting ExEC.
If you have problems with students
- Not engaging
- Lacking confidence doing their interviews
- Faking their interviews
request a preview of our ExEC curriculum here.
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