Business Ideas that Work in the Classroom
Businesses run like well-oiled machines. In many cases, this is because they have people and processes in place to be productive and efficient. While there are sometimes when you want your classroom to be an open environment full of organic learning processes, there are other times when efficiency is best. Not surprisingly, there are some ideas from different business models that work well in classrooms. They are fun and they expose your students to different ways of completing projects.
Project managers keep track of how a project is progressing. They check in with each person on the team to find out where they are in the process and to uncover any pain points along the way. The project manager in the classroom can be responsible for the same type of work. While you are working with small groups of students, a project manager checks with other classmates to see how they’re progressing in their work. They can find out specifically about the problems their classmates are having and report back to you. A project manager gathers information and funnels it to you so that you know who needs your time in the most.
Daily standups happen every day at the same time. They are quick status meetings where everybody stands around the room and reports what they’re currently working on, what they plan to finish today, and what they completed the day before. A daily standup should only take about 15 minutes and allows you to find out what each student is working on. This is especially helpful if students are working on personalized projects. It is also a nice way for students to hear from each other and lets them gauge their progress in comparison to others.
Prototyping is a skill used by entrepreneurs to build products quickly and get them out to market for feedback. Entrepreneurs go through many prototypes before they decide on a final product. The purpose is to be able to quickly change features in order to find the best way to proceed. Prototyping is great for the classroom because it allows students to try out ideas before committing to them fully. You can use prototyping in your writing class and have students read aloud snippets of their work to get a reaction from the audience. Prototyping also works great in science class as part of the inquiry process. Students can hypothesize, test, and go back to the drawing board if their ideas don’t work.
Customer Focus Groups
Businesses invite customers or potential clients to answer questions about products. They do this to find out what features people are looking for. Invite students to hold focus groups with their classmates when they’re looking for feedback on their work. They should consider what questions to ask and when to hold the focus group. The focus group should be held before a final project is due while a student still has time to make changes based on feedback.
Businesses use project management software to track progress and communicate within teams. Collaborative tech means that colleagues don’t have to be working side by side at all times. Instead, they can be work completing their work from anywhere on the planet and still be collaborative. Introduce collaborative apps to your students to help them work together in teams. Try padlet, a collaborative bulletin board to collect research and brainstorm new ideas. Google Docs lets multiple users edit the same doc and see those changes in real time.
Entrepreneurial learning is only going to get more relevant as students learn about what possibilities exist or can be created for them in the job market. Bringing in small, useful examples from the business world is just a start. Organizations are beginning to develop curriculum that offers entrepreneurial skills helps prepare your students for the world beyond the classroom. Being an early adopter of entrepreneurial learning will set your students up for future success.
Amanda Ronan is an Austin-based writer. After many years as a teacher, Amanda transitioned out of the classroom and into educational publishing. She wrote and edited English, language arts, reading, and social studies content for grades K-12. Since becoming a full-time writer, Amanda has worked with a diverse set of clients, ranging from functional medicine doctors to design schools to moving companies. She blogs, writes long-form articles, and pens YA and children's fiction. Her first YA series, My Brother is a Robot, is slated for release by Scobre Educational Press in September 2015.