Friday, February 06, 2015



But that's how we learn. That's how we get truly better.
... people who are never wrong [just ask them ;) ]... scare me.)

From now on every blog post will include my latest numbskullery. 
Let's start with... I was wrong to not post more often. And not a traditional web page? I really need your thoughts on that.

but occasionally... I am right! ;)

My latest trip was over to the U of Minnesota for the midwinter board meeting of the Academy of Management's Entrepreneurship Division. Time to plan for the year ahead such as the giant conference in August in Vancouver (~15,000 of my closest friends? Yikes!)
I'm excited for the conference - more on that later...

But, Norris, weren't you going to tell us where are you RIGHT?

OK, take a few minutes and read this. Look closely at the figures. (I'll wait.) the 96% of university officials think they are doing a good job of preparing students for the real world, only 11% of businesses. Oops. When Gallup Education's Brandon Busteed shared that in Boise this week, the gasps were audible.

What matters to keep students engaged AND productively learning AND ready for the future is... getting to achieve in projects that matter, real world, team-oriented, etc. Whether K-12 or college... that's what moves the needle. I was right about that! ;)

And what does that better than anything? 
The best entrepreneurship programs: Personally-relevant, practically valuable problem-based learning. 
Not quizzes, homework, multiple-choice tests, or even in-class lectures. My best colleagues are doing that - and in November the OECD assembled 26 incredible K-12 programs. If this approach works with 3rd graders.... Just wow.

Conclusion #1: We need youth entrepreneurship programs broad & deep in our schools.
            Caveat #1: This won't work - none of these "engagement" projects work unless it is (a) experiential -- learners need to take away the right lessons, so (b) you need actual educators, people who are trained in how people really learn [see, I came back!] and how to make that work. IOW, professional educators. Accept no substitutes.
            Way too many entrepreneurship programs, even at good schools, that claim to be experiential… simply are NOT experiential. Hands-on is NOT the same thing. If a program tells you "we are building the entrepreneurial mindset" and we are "experiential"... the odds are... they are NOT. (Read my stuff or watch my video or tell me to blog on that soon.)
            Here's what I did:  - the students won national best practice awards (they won, not me)

Conclusion #2: Demand that programs are designed, developed and delivered by actual expert educators. Demand that students are truly engaged.
            Caveat #2: Administrators don't like these engagement activities; say it's not "teaching" and... ouch. For example, I've had friends do courses that *I* would love to take... and they got penalized by the deans. Seriously? Worse, it goes on everywhere.

If you liked the Gallup study, here are two more riffs on that work. and (And thanks to the ED Sessions for bringing Busteed to town, to the JK Albertson Foundation for backing it...)

BONUS LINK! Add STEM to early childhood ed:

If you are still reading, will you email or message me that you did? A martini or coke awaits at least one of you. :)

And, yes, in my next post I will give you details about my submissions to the Academy of Management...


Blogger Chris Blanchard said...

Norris - you mentioned the phrase "problem-solving" several times, and that is a key component of what needs to re-emerge in higher education. Our former institution, like many across the country, have adopted the mechanistic view that only "innovation" solves problems. Further, they conflate "innovation" with "invention," and thus have deemed that only engineers can contribute to the economy.

That of course flies in the face of what social scientists have always understood - that the market is driven by delivering "utility" or usefulness. And no domain, discipline, or university department will ever hold a monopoly on delivering usefulness.

Making widgets is not solving problems. We need to enlist all our resources in solving problems whether they are social, political, economic, or yes, maybe even technological.

12:44 PM  

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