As technology becomes more integrated with education and multi-faceted methods of learning are widely available – with online courses rising in popularity, for instance – students are beginning to expect richer, more varied learning experiences.

With this in mind, teachers and universities are constantly seeking new ways to engage students and encourage creativity within the classroom: approaches which – whether demonstrated within an enterprise setting or not – are vital to the development of key entrepreneurial skills. After all, not all those who go on to become entrepreneurs will be studying business or enterprise at university; but it does not mean that these crucial, transferable skills cannot –and indeed should not – be nurtured in inventive and innovative ways.

Warwick Business School has responded to this growing trend by developing a specialist department, WBS Create, to design and implement more creative forms of learning throughout its curriculum. The ‘active learning’ approach has taken many forms – from role-playing to participating in mini-case studies – and Terry Aladiem, Visiting Fellow at the University of Warwick, sees a great deal of value in this strategy:

‘People can learn a lot of things online but if they are going to come to a university much of what they can learn is inter-personal, working with each other, with the faculty, being physically present. They learn not just what they study, but about the process of learning itself – and that is a real gift.’

Not all educators have huge budgets with which to make significant changes to their curricula; but this need not be a barrier to exploring student engagement. Here are three innovative ways through which to stimulate your students without putting a strain on your resources:

Co-design – moving beyond the ‘master/pupil’ model

Allowing students to participate in not only the implementation of their course (creating communications and encouraging other students to attend events, for example), but also the design of such, can prove extremely powerful. Cath Caldwell, Stage 1 Leader of BA Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins, experimented with this approach recently when she allowed students to create content for and design the delivery of a weekly opt-in Enterprise group. The data showed that over half of the year benefited strongly from being involved with the design of the course, and also that engagement rose considerably (by as much as 25%). In Caldwell’s words:

‘How was the co-design group inclusive? Students could use their mobile devices to make them feel more comfortable. They were allowed to drop in when they could and were welcomed even if arriving late or leaving early. I left the door open. If they attended at all they were actually make a great effort. […] The action of co-design increased learned through doing it for themselves. Just like in the workplace they learned to share knowledge. For me stepping out gave people space to fill.’

And the learning benefits aren’t restricted to students, either. Caldwell also advises that teachers need: ‘“Intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” […] Let go and let the learner drive in their enterprise activities. What could go wrong? You may learn more than you wanted to know.’

Mobile devices and apps

Providing every student with a tablet or mobile device may not be feasible within the confines of your budget, but introducing the use of such within whatever parameters you can manage – allowing students to bring their own or sharing a few around the classroom, for example – can be a powerful aid. The use of mobile devices is a natural route to learning for younger students; it’s an environment in which they feel comfortable to discover, create, and educate themselves. Moreover, these devices lend themselves to instantaneous, collaborative, and active forms of learning. If students have access to a device, you can use interactive questioning systems – like Ranker – or responses on social media platforms to keep your students on their toes; play games in teams; and share relevant media, creating a richer, multisensory learning experience.

Business games

Eschewing traditional teaching techniques in favour of role-play and even full-blown business simulations – or games – is becoming increasingly popular (as discussed in our previous blog, ‘Enterprise Education and Creative Learning: Three Reasons to Embrace Business Games’). Business games are valuable not only in engaging students in an interactive, ‘fun’ forum; they also provide powerful insights into the reality of business failure, the need for teamwork, and the value of taking ownership of a complete project from start to finish.

Our Sandpit tool can be an effective stepping stone if you would like to introduce an element of experiential ‘gaming’ within your curriculum. This interactive, educational tool gives students the chance to enjoy a fully-realised crowdfund simulation, testing ideas in a realistic (yet safe) environment, whilst making other key decisions relating to their business ventures.

If you’d like to learn more about how Crowdfund Campus can work with your students and staff to improve course engagement, please do get in touch today – we’d be delighted to discuss the options with you.