By Martha Rush; Chief Educator-in-Residence
Tales and Tips From the Front
This crisis won’t last forever.
I know it feels like it will, but the COVID-19 pandemic will end, and we will need all of the innovators we can find to start tackling the very real problems facing our communities.
This spring and summer, while educators nationwide are scrambling to create meaningful learning experiences for our students online, let’s embrace best practices for fostering our future entrepreneurs in the virtual world. Let’s be ready to launch new ventures when “shelter in place” is over (or even before!).
Rather than dwelling on what we can’t do—like team-building exercises, person-on-the-street interviews and face-to-face collaboration—let’s focus on what we CAN do, and what our students can do, right now.
Read what Quarter Zero is doing to help students and schools with online entrepreneurship this spring/summer.
With expert guidance, here is a look at some of what our students can do:
#1 Engage in design thinking challenges –
Design thinking is a key building block of entrepreneurial thinking. It’s also a high-engagement creative activity that students can do at home—or anywhere. We can share design challenges virtually, and our students can work on them off-line, or collaborate with classmates through videoconferencing.
#2 Work on identifying and validating problems –
Design thinking is a key building block of entrepreneurial thinking. It’s also a high-engagement creative activity that students can do at home — or anywhere. We can share design challenges virtually, and our students can work on them off-line or collaborate with classmates through videoconferencing.
#3 Develop customer profiles –
Software, like sketchpad, lets students draw their prototype customers, list their pains, gains, and jobs, and add details from customer discovery—just like they would on chart paper. These prototypes can be shared and continually updated.
#4 Conduct customer interviews –
We all prefer in-person interviews, but students can still develop critical interview skills using Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. We have to be more creative about helping them connect to potential customers; that’s a good purpose for social media.
#5 Develop virtual teamwork skills –
Working on teams is hard. Working on virtual teams from home is even harder, for adults as well as teens. If we can help our students learn to communicate reliably and meaningfully online, just think how much easier it will be to build analog teamwork skills later.
#6 Evaluate potential solutions –
Ideating on solutions can happen in virtual chats, videoconferencing, and other virtual environments. The key is to provide students with the tools they need to brainstorm, discuss, and analyze—and that can be done online.
#7 Build minimum viable products (MVPs) –
Like customer profiles, many MVPs can be created in virtual space. In fact, many teams working in person end up creating their MVPs as websites, videos, or Marvel apps.
#8 Get customer feedback on MVPs –
In a perfect world, our students are out sharing their MVPs with potential customers. But in this world—right now, anyway—they can share their MVPs virtually and get feedback through social media, video interviews, and other sources.
#9 Create revenue models –
Using Google spreadsheets, students can develop revenue plans and projections for their ventures and share them with their teams, mentors and possible funders.
#10 Develop, acquire, activate plans –
Students can plan their Sales Funnels, focusing in particular on digital strategies that can be implemented right now.
#11 Prepare (and deliver) pitches –
While students won’t be able to prepare and present their pitches as teams, they can collaboratively craft pitches using Google docs, and each team member can make a video of him/herself delivering the pitch.
#12 Create compelling slides –
Needless to say, students can develop their visual storytelling skills from home, using Google slides, Adobe Spark, Prezi and other resources.
#13 Dream big –
This is the most important one. Many of our teenagers are nervous and uncertain about the future right now, but using the tools of lean startup entrepreneurship, we can help them turn their concerns into meaningful action.
You’ve probably noticed—this is a pretty comprehensive list. So much of what we do at Quarter Zero—and what teachers coaching entrepreneurship in their schools do—can be transformed into online learning.
That’s what we’re doing, and we encourage you to join us. And when this crisis is behind us, we’ll be even better equipped to keep delivering world-class entrepreneurship education both in-person and online.
Martha, founder and CEO of NeverBore Education Consulting and author of Beat Boredom (Stenhouse, 2018), is a nationally recognized teacher with 25 years of classroom experience. She has worked as a professional curriculum writer since 2011 and a workshop consultant since 2013. She founded NeverBore in 2015 with a mission to provide teachers nationwide with hands-on strategies to overcome boredom and improve student engagement and motivation. She now serves as Chief Educator-in-Residence at Quarter Zero and has compiled the QØ Teen Startup Handbook.