Three proven paths to entrepreneurial learning

Image: Ollyy / Shutterstock.com

Creating new things, learning to recognise good ideas, managing uncertainty, planning, communicating… these are all precious skills to have in society. And there is a practical, often fun way to teach them to your students: entrepreneurial learning. Entrepreneurship is one of the European key competences for lifelong learning, and the subject of many cutting-edge projects. Read on to see how you can use them in your school!

1. Tinker and discover in makerspaces

A makerspace is a place of discovery, providing young people with the assistance they need to become digitally literate. Unlike traditional classrooms, makerspaces prompt students to take their education in hand: to realise their own projects and showcase their talents. There is no shortage of tools for the students to experiment with – from iPhones and computers to microcontrollers, robots, 3D printers and laser-cutting machines – and in this creative, non-hierarchical environment, there is no shortage of incentive, either.

The BEE CREATIVE project joins formal and non-formal education, creating makerspaces throughout Luxembourg. Besides the prolific Base1 makerspace, it has helped install 20+ makerspaces in secondary schools at regional level, and 3 makerspaces in primary schools at a municipal level. BEE CREATIVE also organises makers’ workshops in various languages and even provides DIY tutorials. Additionally, there is a contact form for schools interested in installing their own makerspace.

To get a taste of what makerspaces can accomplish, take a look at this video from the 2018 edition of MakerFest, the annual fair organised by BEE CREATIVE:

BEE CREATIVE is an ongoing project, launched in 2015 at the initiative of the Luxembourg government.

2. Prompt your students with original challenges

The Youth Start – Entrepreneurial Challenges project has designed a challenge-based learning methodology to inspire students of all ages. The challenges are based on the “TRIO Model for Entrepreneurship Education”, meaning they contain tasks to promote core entrepreneurial skills, tasks to promote a culture of cooperation, and tasks to foster citizenship and social responsibility. For instance, in the A2 Idea Challenge, students design a chair for a given target group, creating prototypes, gathering feedback and developing solutions; and in the B1 Storytelling Challenge, they get 1 minute to present a business idea to a group of “investors”, trying to succeed against their competitors.

Teachers should read the Project Handbook before implementing the project. They can also go to www.youthstart.eu to access the pedagogical materials in 6 languages – including a Teacher’s Guide, a Student Handbook, and a PowerPoint presentation for each Challenge.

Among the main strengths of this learning programme are its flexibility – it can be adjusted to different subjects, grades and school types – and its evidence-based approach.

Youth Start (2015-2018) was one of the largest projects ever undertaken in entrepreneurship education and evidence-based policy development. It engaged the Ministries of Education of Austria, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Slovenia, and was funded by Erasmus+.

3. Create your own Apps for Good

“Prosumption” – production by consumers – was coined back in 1980, but the rise of the Internet has boosted and magnified it: now all consumers can become producers with relative ease. Mobile applications and Internet of Things products are ideal vehicles for this effort – so they formed the basis for Apps for Good in Portugal.

Apps for Good is an open-source educational movement delivering courses to students between 10 and 18 years old. The students work in teams to build an app for a social issue close to their hearts (e.g. combating illiteracy, emergency services, waste reduction). This takes them through the key aspects of product development: from idea generation, technical feasibility and programming to product design, business models and marketing.

Each team of students follows five online modules provided by the project, with the support of two teachers and a network of experts. Teams are also invited to take part in a country-wide competition. For more information, check out the programme guidelines, as well as instructions for schools or experts.

Apps for Good is an international programme that began in London in 2010. The pilot in Portugal was launched in 2015 by Apps for Good and CDI Portugal, at the request of the Ministry of Education.