Teaching the Entrepreneurial Mindset with a New Journal of Active Classroom Exercises


July 2017 | By: By Doan Winkel

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My Big Awesome Idea That’s Gonna Rock the Whole World

Over the years, I’ve become increasingly curious about how educators can make their entrepreneurship classrooms and courses more authentic for their students. Unfortunately, there was no guidebook.

Like many who went through doctoral programs, I was not formally trained in how to teach entrepreneurship or given access to resources for engaging my students; I was thrown into the deep end and had to learn to swim. Because this discipline of entrepreneurship should be, in my opinion, more focused on developing a mindset rather than a skill set, it creates a special set of challenges to “teaching” it. I wanted my students to be actively contributing and reacting in a real-world fashion, not passively regurgitating knowledge. But, how does one do that? Who are the thought leaders in this area?

Other than reaching out through my personal network, or colliding with random folks at any variety of conferences, until recently I had no option for learning from others and sharing what worked (and didn’t) in engaging my students in entrepreneurial thinking and doing. So, as any good entrepreneur would do, I started an option.

It is therefore my pleasure to introduce the Experiential Entrepreneurship Exercises Journal (EEEJ). Our motto is “to enable more active entrepreneurial classrooms through sharing, learning, and doing.” The goal is to empower educators to continue changing the landscape of today’s and tomorrow’s classroom to more accurately reflect the realities of startups, entrepreneurship, and students as all continue to evolve and shape each other.

EEEJ is no typical journal. It’s an online quarterly that includes the student voice in every submission. Indeed, for proof of effectiveness, we require each submission to include a one-page reaction from a student who recently experienced the exercise. As any successful entrepreneur knows, the customer perspective is critical to developing a valuable offering. And, students are our customers.

We’re different in other ways, too: Instead of the typical lengthy reflective (theoretical foundation) or predictive (implications) approach of many publications, we focus on creating a repository of very accessible exercises that any educator can implement in their course. We accept submissions related to any aspect of entrepreneurship, innovation, or creativity, as long as they are exercises your colleagues can quickly implement in their classrooms to engage their students in practicing the entrepreneurial mindset and skill set.

In our world as academics, research is currency. Until now, there was no outlet that allowed us to share the pedagogical exercises and activities we do inside (and outside) our classrooms. EEEJ is that outlet—we publish short articles that any faculty member can very easily apply in his or her courses. As five-time entrepreneur and author Alex Cowan argues in Issue 1:

“To graduate entrepreneurs with a 21st century skill set, the educator must both lower the barrier to applying new techniques through practice and fundamentally change the way students think about new ventures to motivate their use.”

More students around the world want to learn about entrepreneurship. The most impactful way is to provide experience that engages them. That means: play, creativity, empathy, innovation, reflection, and the list goes on. Entrepreneurship education must focus on applied learning, and thus the core of this learning environment should reflect the sorts of exercises shared in this journal.

I encourage you to review our first two issues for great exercises to bring to your students, and to submit your most engaging exercises.