Learning on Entrepreneurship

In the NextMove Erasmus+ project we aim to support young workers on the acquisition of entrepreneur skills and competences. Also, we address trainers, coaches and human resources’ staff to help others to acquire those skills. The intrapreneur skills should be understood from a broader point of view, not focusing on specific business and financial issues that could be interesting for the company management, but rather in general. Existing research and papers empathize this holistic view of entrepreneurship, this is the example of the EntreComp framework, promoted by the European Commission. The EntreComp framework includes competences related with; working with others, creativity as well as leading and taking the initiative, among many others. All those are convenient soft skills that are required by present organizations.

Organizations have hugely evolved during the last years; each decade people have to face changes in society, economy, education, demographics, health, legislation, technology or markets, never seen before in history. Technology is infiltrating in all our aspects of life; the way we learn, the way we spend time with families or how we work. That created the need to update traditional business models to fit an increasingly globalized world. In this context, technology should be seen as a facilitator for learning, but also as a tool used for other dynamics, that is communicating, creating, sharing, leading, collaborating, etc. Staff that are part of those organisations should cope with new challenges. This means they need to be adaptive, responsible, capable to handle ambiguity and risks, self-aware or themselves (own needs, personal development), aware of organizational aims and pro-active.

If current enterprises are demanding workers with new skills and competences, educational leaders should take action and cover that gap; then organizations, training materials and methods, should be adapted to the current challenges which have been previously described. The formal education helps students to move forward on the formal leader of education, from playschool to postgraduate courses, this kind of education is very convenient for accreditation and professional certification. On the other side, non-formal education, which training is intentional but it is not officially recognized, should also be considered. Organizations such as CEDEOF (The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training) recognized the importance of non-formal and informal learning, promoting its identification, acquisition and validation. The reason is simple: there are a lot of skills and competences that are better acquired outside school. Even this kind of learning happens in a classroom, training should be directly linked to practices and experiences through the use of simulations or real-world challenges, using innovative tools that try to replicate, or at least, to make us self-conscious and better prepared for the challenges that will happen in enterprises, organizations and society. We already introduced beforehand the skills and capacities related to the capacity of seeking and using resources, taking action, working with others and searching for new opportunities, but now we want to include in this recipe the technology factor, as we are convinced that the technology can help with this personal development.

We are aware that face-to-face training and workshops done in the classroom make possible participants to share dynamics that could hardly be replicated online. We do not aim to substitute that kind of training, but to blend it. Thanks to that, we make possible more than the simple union of two learning contexts. By including face-to-face training activities with online, students can adopt the technology when it really provides added value, perceiving it as an opportunity and advantage, not as a difficulty.

Following some technology-based methods that you can adopt in your training activities that will help your students to acquire entrepreneurial skills.

Simulation and role-playing
The best places to learn are in school and in the workplace. In between those two worlds, there are several approaches that make it possible for students to acquire job-related skills as it can be through practical exercises, simulation and role-playing. This allows learners to imagine they are part of a company and they have to lead somebody else, or to solve a problem. Technology can help with that simulation via the use of images, graphics, videos, or other interactive simulations that drive the learner through the desired learning path. A lot of different skills can be acquired thanks to simulations and role-playing activities depending on the challenges presented to the learner.

Personal Learning Environments (PLE)
PLEs are defined as “the set of tools, sources of information, connections and activities that each person uses on a regular basis to learn” (Linda Castañeda and Jordi Adell). Those can be implemented using huge varied tools: shared folders, documents on the cloud, bookmarks organizer, subscription to video channels, social networks links to other references and authors using social networks (as linkedIn). The main aim is that people get used to continuous learning by using a dynamic environment that is continuously updated and connected to sources of information (as blogs, news, video channels), instead of static (as a physical library or physical magazines). We try learners to acquire the habit to search information that could be connected to a specific course or subject but that can increase with knowledge they like, comment and apply. The soft skills we target here are Self-awareness and self-efficacy, identifying opportunities, learning through experience, and learning to learn among others.

Virtual learning communities (VLC) or Communities of Practice (CoP)
VLC are the communities built with the purpose of learning or group development. Those include a Facebook group, forum, shared space on the cloud, wiki, etc. A VLC is composed by a team that has a common aim. That aim could be learning about a certain topic, or any other as being innovative on a product or solution, solving a challenge, etc (this would be then a CoP). The VLC and CoP are self-organized groups, that allow its members to increase the skills of leadership, responsibility, collaboration, taking initiative, etc. Team work here is crucial, not forgetting to promote individual development as one of the main purposes, otherwise learners will lose interest in participating on VLC if they do not see any advantage.

Shared working spaces
We are used to learning and working in physical places. Interaction with people is natural and challenges can be easily managed. However, nowadays and probably because of COVID-19 lockdown, tele-working is increasing, and everybody is getting used to working remotely. Our proposal is that educational institutions also prepare learners for that kind of interaction. Motivation, perseverance, planning and mobilizing others, among other competences should be promoted by using technology media on educational institutions, then it can become a natural environment for new workers.

To be able to innovate on teaching methods, adapt to current needs and challenges and make the most of the technology, it is needed to increase educators’ pedagogic and professionals’ competences. Those are the conclusions of DigCompEdu, the European Framework for the Digital Competence on Educators and the reason why NextMove project focuses on training staff, coaches and human resources responsible. We are conscious that only by developing educators’ skills and providing them useful resources we will make it possible for their learners to develop as individuals and as a team in organizations.

The European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (EntreComp) Source: https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1317

 

Digital Competence Framework for Educators (DigCompEdu). Source https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/digcompedu