21st century learning is not one-size-fits-all. Rather, 21st century learning is—or at least should be—purposeful, taking into account a multitude of learning styles. It combines learner voice with learner choice and uses thoughtful guidance to shape the modern educational journey. Entrepreneurship can be an ideal expression of 21st century learning where students are empowered to work on projects connected to their passions.
According to the CEO of Getting Smart, Tom Vander Ark, there are four ways to expand access to 21st century learning to help more young people thrive now and as adults:
- Integrated, community-connected projects with valuable products
- Work-based learning opportunities that satisfy the student preparedness requirement outlined by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
- Sustained relationships that guide learning journeys and expand opportunities
- Leadership opportunities for students to serve and make a difference
Bringing Experiences, Exposure & Expertise to the Entrepreneurship Classroom
When students understand all the career opportunities available to them after graduation, they may be better prepared for future careers in any industry. But how do we connect students with the knowledge? Bringing industry into the classroom involves industry experiences, exposure, and expert guidance.
Integrated Community-Connected Experiences
The real world has no answer keys. Most jobs don’t hand out rubrics. Business education should be founded in experiential learning and encourage students to build upon their own success and failures, rather than stressing about an upcoming exam or memorizing vocabulary words. The Uncharted Learning high school entrepreneurship program, INCubatoredu, gives students the opportunity to create their own business models that evolve based on feedback from potential customers and clients, who are often members of their own community. Over time, these launched businesses often serve the communities in which they were founded.
Exposure to Work-Based Learning Opportunities
According to the World Economic Forum, the widespread advancement of high-speed mobile internet, machine learning and artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and cloud technology will transform nearly 75 million jobs by 2022. That’s not far away.
To prepare today’s students for the future of work, we need to teach them how to navigate the always-advancing, increasingly fluid, and technology-based workforce at hand. Work-based learning experiences—like job shadows, client projects, internships— can be a great place to start. Students who take the INCubatoredu course have the opportunity to visit the workplace of their mentors, experiencing these careers and career paths first hand. When INCubatoredu students launch service-based businesses, they gain invaluable experience with their own clients to deliver on a specific experience.
Expert Guidance from Volunteer Mentors
Exposing entrepreneurship students to different types of jobs and career paths via business professionals from their community is what sets the INCubatoredu student journey apart. Volunteers serve as mentors and coaches that help guide the learning process by sharing their industry expertise enabling students to benefit from real-world knowledge.
Successfully implementing the INCubatoredu program in your school requires teachers, administrators, and lead volunteers (which we call Community Champions) to recruit, train, and engage business professionals throughout the community to connect with students in the classroom. These expert volunteers include a variety of professions:
- Marketing Experts
- Web Designers
- Accountants & Financial Advisors
- Real Estate Agents
- Government Leaders
- Non-Profit Professionals
- Small Business Owners
Instead of visiting a classroom for one afternoon to share their story, volunteers can serve in a mentorship role and work in close proximity with students—guiding them to learn through failure, make their own decisions, and reach their own conclusions about their business venture. Volunteers who serve as coaches support the classroom teacher by leading units of study while exposing students to industry tools, techniques, and approaches on specific topics.
Mentorship in MobileMakersEdu
Future readiness for students requires understanding how technology solves problems. Algorithmic thinking skills are important for many career fields, but traditional computer science courses often start with black screens or reference older technology that doesn’t relate to the lives of current students. That’s where MobileMakersEdu comes in, helping students develop an entrepreneurial mindset and a love for coding.
MobileMakersEdu teachers and students work with professional iOS app and software developers to ensure they’re applying best practice and working with current coding software. At our annual professional development and training event, teachers who lead MobileMakersEdu courses learn about careers in software development that extend beyond coding—like user experience and interface design, project management, quality assurance, tech recruiting, and IT.
Armed with the latest information about the future of business and tech, our teachers are better equipped to prepare students for what’s out there… and what’s to come!
Students have the opportunity to connect with these professionals, too. Students enrolled in MobileMakersEdu can connect with developers and other professionals in virtual groups or 1:1 meetings via Slack or Google Meet to gain feedback on their latest projects.
Students also get to take in-person and virtual field trips to software development shops and businesses anchored in developing mobile apps throughout their MME journey.
This direct access to working iOS developers gives MME students a competitive edge while instilling in them a long-lasting thirst for knowledge. Volunteers help students work through challenges as they arise, as well as call on real-life experiences to engage students’ learning.
Through these volunteer relationships, students learn to value and leverage the expertise of others while gaining confidence to meet, network, and work with new people.
We can all agree that leadership is a critical skill for students. In INCubatoredu, high school students have the opportunity to see their venture all the way through to a live ABC’s Shark Tank-style pitch event in front of a board of advisors who serve as judges. These judges provide feedback on students’ pitches and award real funding for the winning ideas. Learning how to put together a spreadsheet, pitch deck, and clearly communicating this research and passion to others is an invaluable skill gained at all levels of our entrepreneurship programming.
MobileMakersEdu students lead code reviews, demo their apps to peers and the public, and publish screencast tutorials for others learning how to code.
Entrepreneurship Education for the Ever-Evolving World
Education’s ultimate goal is to prepare students for life in the real world.
At Uncharted Learning, we believe students should be empowered to do real things while they are young, still brimming with creativity, and more willing to take the risks required to make real change. Through student entrepreneurship and community-connected experiences, exposure to work-based learning opportunities, sustained guidance, and engaging leadership opportunities, we can connect students to the workforce and kick start them for successful, lifelong careers in our ever-evolving world.
Interested in mentoring a young entrepreneurship student? Volunteer at a school near you.