How do educators learn best practices in how to teach entrepreneurship?
The answer is a unique workshop called the Experiential Classroom, an annual program organized by the School of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University. Academic instructors from around the world are exposed to some of the best educators in the field of entrepreneurship at this intense three-day event.
The Experiential Classroom began in the fall of 2000 and was orchestrated in conjunction with the Lifelong Learning for Entrepreneurship Education Professionals partnership (LLEEP). LLEEP is a group of leading academics that meet to explore the future of entrepreneurship education. These instructors sought to address the growing need for high quality teachers within the field. LLEEP established a group of clinics to focus on the core goals of “sharing leading edge teaching practices and enhancing teaching skills.”
Dr. Michael Morris is an international leader in entrepreneurship and has championed the Experiential Classroom from its beginning. He sees the future of business programs as vested in entrepreneurship. “We are seeing dramatic changes in business education around the country,” Morris said, “and the fastest growth area in business schools is entrepreneurship.” He said many schools have or are investing in entrepreneurship classes, majors, minors, graduate degrees, doctorate degrees, and certificates. “The future is one of entrepreneurship reaching across the campus and interfacing with every discipline.”
One of the leading experts in simulation education, Ernie Cadotte, has presented his Marketplace simulation at the Classroom for the past six years. Cadotte hosts a two-hour workshop where participants get hands-on experience in managing a simulated new venture. “I love the event!” Cadotte said. “There are a lot of like-minded people – all facing the same challenges, sharing their best-practices, and brainstorming new solutions. It is invigorating!”
Morris explained why Cadotte is invited to speak: “Quite simply, Ernie is a top guy in the country for simulation education.” Morris said only “leading lights”, in terms of those who can share best practices in entrepreneurship education, are the presenters for the program. These speakers are experts in a number of areas, from simulations and business plans to creative thinking and case teaching. “We bring in some of the very best educators, leading innovators in terms of how students learn, how the entrepreneurial mindset can be reinforced, and how entrepreneurial content can be delivered.”
The Experiential Classroom is a great success. Over eight hundred faculty members from around the world have attended. The conference is targeted to current and future educators and directors of entrepreneurship programs. The participants attend numerous workshops over three days to learn how to train students to think and act in entrepreneurial ways. There are sessions on an array of experiential learning tools and approaches, as well as community engagement projects, student extracurricular learning opportunities, curriculum design, and program building. “The experiential learning environment allows instructors in the field of entrepreneurship to meet experts and get guidelines to help implement these programs at their schools,” Cadotte said.
Entering its thirteenth year, Morris indicated the workshop strives to be a “world class program on best entrepreneurial teaching practices.” This year’s Experiential Classroom will take place from September 20th – 23rd. If you are interested in learning more about the Experiential Classroom, please visit their website at http://entrepreneurship.okstate.edu/riata/classroom/.