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How can entrepreneurship education move online without losing the powerful learning that happens in the face-to-face environment of the classroom?

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review

1. Questions we care about (Objectives)
How can we, as educators, move entrepreneurship education online without losing the powerful learning that happens in the face-to-face environment of the classroom? Often we assume that entrepreneurship education is a practice that takes place in a physical locality – the classroom. The classroom provides a physical meeting place to discuss, reflect, act and try out practices. Therefore, the classroom traditionally provides the framework for learning about entrepreneurship by transferring knowledge and providing the opportunity for discussion of ideas. Furthermore, the classroom can also provide the framework for presenting tools for becoming entrepreneurial. The tools take many shapes and forms, but are often enacted in the physical environment to allow students to try out and test the tools on real life cases. The classroom therefore provides an important framework for allowing students to combine knowledge and tools when they identify a real life problem and begin investigating through entrepreneurial practices where contact is made to organisations and the students work to solve authentic problems. In the latter type of courses, the classroom provides a framework for reflecting on how an entrepreneurial mindset can be initiated and stimulated. Learning to become entrepreneurial is both highly physical and relational. While we recognize that learning also happens outside of the classroom, the reflection on learning takes place in the classroom structure. The focus in this paper is on how teaching is structured and designed when the physical classroom suddenly disappears. If traditional classroom practices cannot simply be transferred to an online setting, to what extent do teachers need to reconsider how they design their teaching to engage students and stimulate them to become entrepreneurial in an online environment?

2. Approach
This paper focuses on an undergraduate humanities elective with entrepreneurship as a major component. The educator was charged with initiating student projects with external organisations where they would identify a problem and come up with solutions. As the educator was unfamiliar with the entrepreneurial part, the author of this paper was invited to provide this focus. However, the conditions created by the pandemic required that all teaching went online. Going online was perceived as a significant hurdle in planning project-based teaching. In the end, much of the students’ work took place in a hybrid format. While lectures and class interactions took place over zoom, the students worked together in small groups face-to-face. Entrepreneurial tools for competence mapping, investigation of a problem area and creativity were introduced in the online environment.
The cohort of 36 students was formed into 9 self-selected inter-disciplinary teams. Data were gathered from a weekly reflection paper written by each team, reflective interviews between the educator and the author and from a joint report written for a funding body and evaluation after the grades were given. What was at stake was how entrepreneurial tools could be effectively designed to support learning in an online environment. For example, how can a creativity workshop be re-designed for the online environment to ensure learning of methods and tools for a creative and divergent learning process? Or how do student teams learn to collaborate and share their competences, strengths and weaknesses in the online environment in order to productively engage with stakeholders and problems?

3. Results
On completion of the course, the evaluations provided some interesting and surprising insights both for the teachers and for the undergraduates. It seems that entrepreneurial learning can be successfully scaffolded, even in an online environment. When careful consideration is given to a re-design of teaching practice and methods, it appears possible to scaffold and adjust tools to support online entrepreneurial learning. From the comments made by the students, the online environment can be just as, or even more, powerful than the face-to-face classroom interactions. This paper suggests that online teaching and learning may provide surprising and liberating opportunities that may be missed in the face-to-face classroom interactions.
4. Implications
There has been an assumption in entrepreneurship education that learning needs to take place in a face-to-face environment where people can interact with each other in a physical context and connect to the real world. But the results of this course show that with careful planning, online tools allow for a manipulation of space and time that creates opportunities for different kinds of conversations and interactions. Students are able to use these tools to take more control of their learning and to focus on how change can create value for others.

5. Value/Originality
An online teaching environment does not limit student’s ability to connect with and think about the real world. First, the real world is a hybrid world. Everything we do now takes place through some combination of online interaction (including the use of online tools and storing information online) and face-to-face. The most successful companies are the ones that can think creatively about how the online interfaces with the physical. A course that needs to be online, but can allow students to connect in the physical world is an exact analogue to position organizations attempting to understand their online strategy whether that is a business or some other kind of service organization. The experience in this course has helped to open our eyes to the potential of online learning for entrepreneurship education.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Udgivelsesårmaj 2022
StatusUdgivet - maj 2022
BegivenhedEuropean Entrepreneurship Education Conference - Dijon, Frankrig
Varighed: 11 maj 202213 maj 2022

Konference

KonferenceEuropean Entrepreneurship Education Conference
LandFrankrig
ByDijon
Periode11/05/202213/05/2022

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