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How Can We Create an Entrepreneurial High School Experience?

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With a new generation dominating the society today, one can no longer assume that educated young people will enter a workforce where their skills are wanted. Having said so, schools no longer must worry to prepare students for jobs that do not yet exists. Rather their focus should be to prepare them to be agile and adaptable in the face of profound skills.

How Can We Create an Entrepreneurial High School Experience?

The students can go into a constantly changing world that will require flexibility, creativity, collaboration and the nimbleness to adapt to rapid change. And increasingly, the students will need to think like entrepreneurs. In fact, entrepreneurship has almost become the buzz word of the decade. Realizing the importance of such skills in the rapidly changing economy, many schools have therefore taken the leap to implement entrepreneurship as an important subject in the curriculum.

But there are also schools that are unable to do it well and considering it, here are certain ways following which other schools too can join the league of visionary schools and start creating an entrepreneurial high school experience in schools.

1. Promote Key Entrepreneur Traits

Entrepreneurs are individuals who exercise initiatives and are synonymous with start-ups. With such in mind, schools need to foster key traits such as high level of self-reliance and optimism as well as the motivation to strive for excellence in students. Once such traits are nurtured rightfully, students automatically realise that they indeed are entrepreneurs in something.

2. Making the Learning Experience Practical & Real World like

Merely including entrepreneurship in the curriculum isn’t enough. The bottom line in teaching entrepreneurship in the classroom and make such experience as practical and real world as possible. A good way to start is to think of learning entrepreneurship as you would any other apprenticeship. The student should take on project-based work and be given opportunities to be resourceful and creative.

Organizations such as Wildfire Education assists schools in creating learning experiences which help students master skills and gain confidence by solving real-world problems on teams. Similarly, hack in a box is a school program that evokes students to solve real-world challenges.

3. Highlight Soft Skills and High-Level Thinking

 

Teamwork and collaboration is mandatory and needs to be incorporated into task completion. Students need to be taught to think critically and analytically. Such implies that the focus on concepts, principles and values need to take priority over knowledge of the curriculum. Entrepreneurs not only need to be intelligent but flexible as well to adapt to changes that occur in their field. The other essential skill that is regarded as extremely essential in the technology-dominated world is communication skills because entrepreneurs must know how to communicate their vision clearly.

4. Encourage Students to Study the Success and Failure Stories

An important section that schools need to include in entrepreneurship is research on current businesses in a specific field. Students should know the art of analyzing the companies as well as learn the philosophies of all-time greats.

Alongside reading the success stories of companies, students need to also read the failures or why companies turn up unsuccessful and analyse the reasons. Such practice gives an excellent opportunity to the students to learn from other companies’ mistakes and also know on the trade secrets among successful entrepreneurs.

5. Developing the Ability to Influence

Perhaps one of the most important attributes that every entrepreneur needs to have a strong grip over is to develop the ability to influence. In the practical world, entrepreneurs need the ability to sell their ideas or perhaps even their company. This is why, while teaching entrepreneurship in schools, particular attention needs to be given on including the important skills to articulate thoughts clearly and effectively. Stakeholders buy-in aspect is the most important part of running and leading an organization. Entrepreneurs need to be influencers and they must know the art to lead and have a plan to back up their vision.

Thus, schools looking up to create an entrepreneurial high school experience for students can succeed in their mission only if they start helping students develop entrepreneurial mindsets.

Do you think likewise? What are your views? Write to us and express your opinion on it to take the discussion forward.

 

posted Feb 4 by Sokna

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You may have missed it during the summer heatwave, but a very English education technology revolution was announced in the Daily TelegraphIt was the conclusion of intense months of work. There had been a fair amount of Post-it notes, flip charts and workshops involving educators, stakeholders, policymakers and businesses. There was positive support from a small team of Department for Education civil servants, all with a keen interest in education technology. 

Education secretary Damian Hinds demonstrated that he had “got” education technology by recognising that: “There is clear, untapped potential for schools, colleges and universities to benefit even further from the power of technology to support students to learn, reduce teachers’ workload and save money.”

'Are we finally seeing an Edtech revolution?'

Why did that take so long?

In 2010, the incoming the coalition government got started on major education reform with a “bonfire of the quangos”. In some ways good, it also led to the demise of Becta (originally the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency), the organisation tasked with supporting schools to use education technology, and meant we lost an important national conversation about education technology.

Despite the computing curriculum and a big dose of “robot fever”, there had been no real long-standing leadership for education technology in the DfE for years. Various task forces had seemed to suggest a start, stop mentality from government. In that time, England has fallen behind Wales and Scotland, which have, for example, created and developed national platforms – Hwb and GLOW respectively – to share and explore the impact of edtech on teaching and learning.

Systemic change is hard and it’s not that these nations have all the answers, but in England we desperately need to restart the discussion at a national level to find out properly how education technology can make a meaningful contribution. What’s also striking is that since 2010 there has been growing recognition, from other parts of Whitehall, that edtech is also important for the UK’s economy, for jobs and exports. Most recently, in 2017 the Digital Strategy, honed by Matt Hancock, MP, stated: “Education technology is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, accounting for 4 per cent of digital companies, and UK businesses have become world leaders in developing innovative new technologies for schools.”

A national strategy for edtech

This is welcome but it urgently needs to become part of a wider strategy for edtech so that there is a coherent approach across government. It is energetic minister Sam Gyimah who is charged with taking this forward.

Despite the wilderness years, progress has been made in the use of edtech by schools. It should no longer surprise that there are real areas of promise across maths with Sumdog, Hegarty Maths, Times Tables Rockstars and Doodle Maths. In reading, the support from ReadingWise and Pobble is impressive and the creative inspiration offered by Night Zookeeper or the immersive Now>Press>Play delights learners.

Scotland’s SpyQuest and Brighton’s Curiscope use the latest augmented and virtual reality for good. Esri UK leads the way in free geography mapping for schools and Crick Software pioneers inclusive edtech. UK organisations FutureLearn, Micro:bit and Raspberry Pi open up learning in new ways to millions of people across the globe.

There are also networks to support the adoption and understanding of edtech by schools and colleges. In further education, the Blended Learning Consortium is a positive example and came out of the good work by FELTAG (the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group).  And market-leading Apple, Google and Microsoft products invest in growing networks of trained, certified, educator ambassadors. But surely these corporate networks can work more effectively together to support adoption and understanding of edtech across schools, colleges and universities? Can we, for instance, create meaningful regional hubs of expertise across the country?

It is against this backdrop, that Edtech50 Schools, supported by Intel, is launching its hunt to find schools that demonstrate excellent digital leadership and practice. It’s needed because the education minister’s summer announcement is a start rather than an endpoint.

Our vision for Edtech 50 schools is that it will help to create a national, school-led network, and one that has the expertise to be heeded by the DfE. It needs to embrace a broad vision and be alive to the possibilities that technology can bring to every aspect of school life – for too long we have ignored the fact that educational technology can rationalise the back office as much as enliven and focus learning and properly support the teacher.

The positive work of groups of committed individuals, the Independent Schools Council Digital Strategy Group, the London Grid for Learning, schools and some multi-academy trusts suggest real opportunity and potential in strengthening the grassroots but with a national focus. Investing in innovation and educators to guide their peers reaps dividends.

Let’s hope this is more than just a short-lived, summer holiday edtech romance.

As we continue with another round of positive consultations on this education technology revolution; it’s good to know it’s already started around the country and beyond.

Now it needs focus, investment and leadership. And ambition.

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I’m often asked, “What value does Virtual Reality (VR) bring to education?”

To which I typically reply, “Equity.” While most, including my immediate peers, usually squint and ask, “How so?” there is currently a myriad of VR experiences that can bring equity to education where no other tool has been able to.

Research completed at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, led by Professor Sean Reardon, largely addressed the inequities in education that challenge students daily.

“The socioeconomic profile of a district is a powerful predictor of the average test score performance of students in that district,” said Reardon. “Nonetheless, poverty is not destiny: There are districts with similarly low-income student populations where academic performance is higher than others. We can—and should—learn from such places to guide community and school improvement efforts in other communities.”

So, how can VR bring equity to education?

Regarding virtual reality in education, most educators have heard of Google Expeditions by now. At just over three years old, Google Expeditions has paved the way for immersive education in schools. Using mobile VR technology, three degrees of freedom (3DOF), students are guided through a virtual tour. The tour includes teacher resources in the form of discussion points, and the ability for the teacher to control what the students are seeing while the students still have control over the angle and direction of their focus in the 360, VR virtual field trip.

Is this low tech? Sort of. Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t such a huge fan of “virtual field trips” initially. It wasn’t because I’m a hater, it was because I was narrow-minded and enthusiastic about all of the other amazing immersive VR experiences coming out.

However, earlier this year, I had the pleasure of watching a recording of Jeremy Bailenson speaking about his book, Experience on Demand (which is amazing, by the way). He stated four reasons why we should use VR and those were:

  1. It’s impossible
  2. It’s counterproductive
  3. It’s expensive/rare
  4. It’s dangerous

It immediately clicked for me. Depending on the situation, Virtual Reality can add tremendous value and even provide equity where there once was none.

When does VR provide benefits for students?

Say, for example, in your situation, which includes cost and proximity, you have easy access to go to the zoo. In this case, a virtual field trip might not be a worthy use case for VR. Instead, you can physically take a field trip to the zoo. If your situation is such that it’s cost prohibitive, far, etc., then a virtual field trip to a zoo is a worthwhile experience.

Generally speaking, access to a zoo falls largely into the category of funding. If a school felt there was value in taking students to a zoo and money was no object, they could fly a class to their zoo of choice. If the research that Reardon conducted is true, then this lack of funding results in a lack of experiences for students and would likely translate into lower test scores within that school.

What about the impossible?

It’s not possible for us to revisit World War II and speak to Holocaust victims. Yes, there are museums, and there are still some schools who have access to survivors that visit and share their first-hand accounts. But this invaluable experience isn’t something that every school has access to. Programs like New Dimensions in Testimony (NDT) exist to archive and bring Holocaust survivor testimony to people, most importantly schools. This brings equity by creating this experience.

Lastly, explaining the benefits of the counterproductive.

I love the idea of bringing the best of the best to everyone, anywhere, anytime. Programs like Engage and Rumii offer educator-focused collaborative VR learning environments. Imagine a lecture hall where all of the participants and the presenter are in VR. Think back to “Ready Player One,” a futuristic novel set in 2045, where nearly everyone constantly lives in VR. In the book, there is a planet within VR called Ludus, where all of the schools are located.

In the book, Ernest Cline describes in detail what the educational system on Ludus looks like. He describes a flexible and customizable learning environment, one that I think could bring equity to learning, whether you’re connecting from an affluent or impoverished neighbourhood. He describes that teachers can instantly take students on interactive virtual field trips, which provide high levels of immersion translating into a better understanding of the subject.

The counterproductive involves learning a powerful lesson that you wouldn’t want to do out in the real world. For example, seeing the effects climate change up close, or learning about the mistakes of the past by seeing them unfold in front of you. From the example of “Ready Player One,” we can also imagine that students had access to visit historical events in high fidelity and full immersion. Imagine too, the ppossibilityof constructing new outcomes with “artificially intelligent virtual interaction,” an experience that would place you in a historic place and time. You could interact with and examine how different choices might have changed the outcome of history.

Hopefully, you can see why I’m so excited for Virtual Reality in Education.

Dropping into VR provides a real world, immersive experience that links key critical core senses together. When hearing, sight, and touch are linked, the subconscious mind cannot distinguish the experience as fake and thus strong memories are created. This ability to create memories from experiences that are typically impossible is the power that VR yields. So with VR experiences like NDT, virtual field trips to zoos, and collaborative learning environments like Engage and Rumii, we can bring equitable experiences to education that could ultimately provide not just higher test scores, but increased opportunity, knowledge, and most importantly, an inspiration to all students.

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In November 2018, Michael R. Bloomberg announced a donation of $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University to create a fund that would help low and moderate-income group students complete their college degrees. Without a doubt, this is an incredibly meaningful initiative. However, it led me to start wondering if monetary support alone is enough for students with special accessibility needs or students who come from a variety of marginalized backgrounds.

When we think of college, the first question that often comes to mind is affordability. But affordability is not the only factor. Most educational institutions provide financial support to a few selected students in the form of scholarships and loans. However, students require much more than just financial support to survive four years of college and develop the skills and confidence they need to begin successful careers.

How Edtech Entrepreneurs Can Make College More Accessible To All Students

Most colleges fall short here. There are far more inequalities and biases embedded in the fibers of our society than what financial aid for tuition can bridge. I believe that real college access should open doors for students irrespective of race, gender, immigrant status, family income or physical mobility. A recent study revealed that at some of the best colleges across the United States, more students were from the top 1% than from the bottom 60% of income groups. 

Entrepreneurs building companies of the future should be concerned. The workforce, comprising of millennials driven by intellectual curiosity, moral obligation and exposure to humanitarian causes, is inquisitive about freedom, equality and inclusivity. An employer is judged by its commitment to society and causes. Especially in tech startups, graduating students have begun to consider the brand image of a future employer before saying yes to an offer. Therefore, it will be increasingly beneficial for entrepreneurs if they build brands that nurture an ecosystem where students are provided opportunities based on their merit and not simply their elite pedigree.

As part of their measures to diversify their student bodies, colleges often claim to support students by providing them with tuition fee waivers. But free tuition is helpful only when one is able to get an offer of admission. Moreover, there are indirect costs beyond tuition fee that financial aid doesn’t cover, such as food, housing, and supplementary course material. This forces many students to earn money during the time that they should be studying. Some incur large personal debt, others skip classes to work odd jobs, while a few succumb to financial stress and drop out.

The problem becomes even more complex when dealing with learners from diverse backgrounds who have special needs such as students who require accessibility considerations and students with learning disabilities.

 

Having worked closely with various state public schools with students from mid- to low-income families as well as accessibility services at various colleges, I’ve observed that students require a lot of support beyond classroom lectures. Unlike students from affluent families who get mentoring and support right from the start, less privileged students struggle to balance classes with part-time jobs. That’s where edtech entrepreneurs such as myself come in, by building systems that enable students to have access to higher education and study materials. Here’s how we can provide support beyond financial aid.

1. Increased Accessibility To Higher Education Even Before College

Tech entrepreneurs are in a position to influence change at the grassroots level. The pyramid leading to success in college is built on the cornerstone of early education in high school. Edtech entrepreneurs can help in two ways:

• Provide technology training for teachers in low-income neighborhoods. According to the Education Week Research Center, teachers in under-funded schools are less likely to receive technological training for teaching when compared to their counterparts in wealthier schools. Edtech companies can provide skills training for teachers on their platforms.

• Provide high school students with summer jobs/internships that give them access to an environment with technology and give them an opportunity to work in the tech-startup landscape once they graduate.

2. Corporate Network Support Circles

College is where the blueprint of the business world is laid down, and it’s important to inculcate diversity at this grassroots level. Change doesn’t start from top-down leadership; it happens from the bottom up. Currently, about 72% of CEO’s in top Fortune 500 companies are white males, and less than 1% are African-American females.

One of the key hindrances in diversity at the top level is that people tend to hire or favor candidates similar to themselves -- usually from the same schools. Students with special learning needs bear the brunt of this even more. Even if they manage to steer through their financial constraints, it is incredibly difficult to break through the glass ceiling without a supporting network.

Colleges should aid in creating corporate networks where diverse groups of students can get the right introductions. Tech entrepreneurs can help further by promoting diversity initiatives in their organizations that call for meritorious students from lower socioeconomic standing. Such initiatives should begin at the high-school level. Entrepreneurs can also support non-Ivey, state schools and community colleges that hold job fairs and employment drives.

3. Subsidized, Affordable Textbooks And Study Materials

The rising costs of textbooks add a significant burden on students who struggle to make ends meet on their limited financial aid. Even though there are a lot of services that provide secondhand books or online books, a college student still ends up spending over $1,200 on average, according to the College Board. Edtech entrepreneurs and colleges should join forces to provide subsidized books and online notes for a nominal fee. 

It’s easy to get access to reading lists of various subjects and provide materials to students accordingly in the form of study guides, notes, homework help, etc. In fact, many startups, including my own, are already doing that.

Edtech companies currently exist in their bubbles -- creating products that are redefining education. However, it is becoming increasingly important that policymakers and entrepreneurs work together to steer the discourse of higher education. It surely will be a long journey to effect change, but it will be worth starting today. 

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