Part 1 in a three-part series on Entrepreneurship In Education for the course Education Theories, Trends, and Entrepreneurship at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences Education Entrepreneurship Master’s Degree Programme. Read part 2 by clicking here and part 3 by clicking here.
The words entrepreneurship and education when taken individually can be romanticized and idealized. But when they are put together they conjure up a different set of emotions. Some words that might come to mind are contradiction, sacrilege, or possibly even blasphemy. But for me, they are bound by two important words, creation and value.
Entrepreneurship is commonly defined as “creating economic value through a business or enterprise.” In the context of education entrepreneurship, I prefer to focus on the components that speak to the creation of value. I define education entrepreneurship as “creating value for teaching and learning through a business or enterprise.” This value creation can come in many forms. It may be improving assessment, developing a course or program, or introducing a new textbook.
In contrast to entrepreneurship, in which value is created from something that previously didn’t exist, there is also something called intrapreneurship. This is the creation of value within a pre-existing institution or organization. For example, if you are already operating within an established enterprise you can create value for that company. Often times this is initiated by a self-motivated individual who is looking to take action to solve a problem that already exists.
As an education entrepreneur, my experiences have primarily been intrapreneurial. This has taken two forms, first in my work as part of the National Capstone Consortium, and second, as a faculty member where I currently work. Within the consortium, I have created an online platform for members to co-create knowledge and share their experiences. I saw the need for a virtual space for educators to interact outside of our one-week summer summit and so I pitched the idea to the team and was granted funding and support to develop this idea.
At the school where I work full time, I have taken on a few different intrapreneurial ventures. One was putting together a proposal to redesign our middle school math curriculum and modifying our textbook sequence. Both of these efforts involved the creation of value within an organization that was already pre-existing. This is how I would define them as being intrapreneurial.
At the moment continuing work on these intrapreneurial plans is most relevant to me. I am involved in two institutions that I am passionate about and I would like to continue to create value for them both. I have some ideas about building on my work with the National Capstone Consortium through the creation of online courses for professional learning. At the school I am working at I am looking into developing systems of competency-based learning for assessment.
As I move forward in my entrepreneurial endeavors there are some key skills to apply and further develop. The first of these is collaboration. This is sometimes an overused and misunderstood word. In entrepreneurship, I think it is very important. While people may see entrepreneurship as an individualistic act, it actually takes a lot of working with others, primarily in co-creating, and co-ideation. The second is experimentation. I also like to think of this as play. Trying new things, shipping your ideas, and essentially make the doing of the work part of the creative process. And finally, connection. Bringing your ideas to an audience and interacting with them as they experience your creation.
These key entrepreneurial skills – collaboration, experimentation, and connection are drawn from my experiences as a creative in music. These are three skills that I rely heavily on as a musician and that I feel have a direct application in the world of entrepreneurship. It is through my work as an education entrepreneur that I look to create value in teaching and learning.