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Posted By Megan Ballard, Monday, October 13, 2014

Using Digital Content to Reshape the Learning Process for Entrepreneurship Students

Submitted by Braden Croy, Syracuse University

The first part of the breakout session is presented by Jon Krabill.

This breakout session explore how Columbus State Community College used digital content to help entrepreneurial students.  They decided to switch to digital content because it allowed class to be taught in ‘real time’—no new textbook versions or outdated material.  It also allowed for an emphasis on presentation skills and flexibility for students—traditional and non-traditional.

The classroom experience should be molded to individuals and their needs/requirements for an entrepreneurship education. 

The college was working through a transition with the stated goals to create a structured environment that fostered student success.  The implementation of free technology was very important because certain students can’t afford the Adobe suite or Microsoft suite.  The last goal was to utilize their Columbus, Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem, which happens to be driven by Ohio State and to Buckeyes.

Some hurdles which CSCC and other colleges may face during this transition process include psychological impact of losing a textbook.  Student love the index and glossary a textbook gives them, it acts as a safety net.  Thus you must think through providing that information in another easily accessible manner. 

Another hurdle is differing goals between the course and the students businesses.  Course goals and curriculum should be defined by an entrepreneurial ontology—innovation, small business management, or high growth company formation.  You must ask what the students want, and how can we give it to them.

The course was broken down with one main goal in mind—the formation of a business plan.  Structured in four units with specific deliverables, students learn introduction, marketing, financials, and operations of their businesses.

We’ll be focusing on unit 2, Marketing, a five week unit with internal and external resources.

Short video introduction kicks the unit off with goals and learning objectives.  Many times this includes the instructors interviewing local entrepreneurs.  Clear deliverables and rubric are provided to students with a detailed video explanation for why each step in important from the instructor.  Students seem to do much better on assignments if they understand why they’re doing a certain task.

Main content videos are 5-7 minutes long and are supplemented by Tweets, YouTube videos, and article readings.  The activities list is always growing because businesses are always evolving.

Students are provided weekly lecture notes to help guide their learning.  These notes given them reference for what they should be learning.

Pulling in cultural references is a great way to apply content to real world scenarios.

Coopetition is a lot more useful than head to head competition.  Something many students don’t realize or can’t operationalize in their own businesses.  Speaks to Saras’ effectuation principle of the Crazy Quilt. 

Hearing it from the instructor is good, hearing it from a real world entrepreneur is the best.  These short mentoring sessions occur at the end of a unit so as to help students aggregate their entire learning from that unit.

How can technology help facilitate this entire process.  Two perspectives: student support and _____

Social media—great for secondary research, marketing, CRM.  CSCC makes their entrepreneurial students sign up for a Twitter account, easy for young students, a little more challenging for non-traditional students.

Survey creators—great for primary research.

Screen capture—presentation and asynchronous learning.

Info graphic creators—marketing materials

Microsoft suite—presentations, appendices, etc.

Virtual meetings (Webex)—mentoring and presentations

Example business plans—breaking existing business plans down for analysis and mentoring.

Some great technologies which are affordable:

Apple Products

  • Explain Everything

  • Animation HD

  • Vizzywig

  • iMovie

  • Keynote


    Web Products

  • PowToon

  • Adobe suite

  • Animoto

  • Phone and YouTube

The ecosystem around CSCC is based entirely around Ohio State.  However, this isn’t a bad thing.  The enthusiasm for entrepreneurship has grown enormously because of this collegiate cultural influence.  CSCC’s entrepreneurial support is enhanced by the media and PR attention created by a holistic entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Even if you’re a speck on the outside, you can crate great programs by talking to everybody.  Show up, ask questions, and get community/collegiate leaders involved in your college’s classrooms and curriculum.

CSCC has had some great successes.  They’ve proven the classroom can be flipped.  Each week entrepreneurship students must prove what they’ve accomplished and that anyone can do this business ownership thing.  Because they’ve had to prove their effort in the business, students are now able to understand the process and why business planning is important, even if circumstances change, planning sets a framework to help guide the business owner’s actions.

9 CSCC classes went ‘textbookless’, saving $216,000 in student savings and has saved CSCC over $1 million since July 2013.


The second part of this breakout session is presented by Israel Dominguez who truly believes in the power and usefulness of HP Life’s e-learning platform.

This discussion revolves around HP Life and e-learning.  An open education resource for students, entrepreneurs, and small business owners around the world who want to gain real-life business and technology skills.  Best part is—it’s free!  It’s interactive, module based, and designed around core business competencies.

Contextualized entrepreneurship modules help students and educators apply learning across industries, geographies, and desired outcomes.  Special topics fall under either finance, marketing, operations, or communications.  Exercises take between 30 and 60 minutes for students.

Each course features seven steps:

  1. Start: brief overview of course objectives and components

  2. Story: the scenario of a real-life entrepreneur facing a common business challenge

  3. Business concept: principles and strategies to respond to the business challenge (with guided and unguided interactivities)

  4. Technology skill: skills linked to the business concept that can help save time and money, includes tutorials, interactivities, and downloadable exercises

  5. Course discussion: an online global forum to share ideas with others

  6. Certification: a celebration and validation for students

  7. Next steps: things entrepreneurs could/should do after the course

Great outlets for HP Life and E-Learning include applied business and CTE courses, on-line, in-class, or hybrid courses.  Also great for high school and college career path counselors.

Instructors guide has five sections:

  1. Introduction

  2. How to get started

  3. Facilitating e-learning

  4. Use cases

  5. Common challenges in working with e-learning materials

If you’re interested in learning more and giving the software a test drive, go to


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