Friday, May 06, 2011

Teaching Students To Create Their Own Business

One of the things that I tell students when I do career talks is that it has never been easier to start a software business than it is today. Many great companies have been started in hard economic times (Microsoft for example) and many have been started by people who were students at the time. Dell may be one of the more well known examples of that even though it is more hardware related. But new markets in games (for hand held devices like phones for example), cloud computing for fast, easy and scalable computer resources as well as easy availability of software bring a new round of low cost of entry. Technical skills are not all that you need though. The making of a company requires some entrepreneurship. While entrepreneurship is in large part an attitude and a confidence we don’t often teach the other skills that support the attitude and build the confidence students need. That’s why I really enjoyed a blog post in the TeachTec blog today. This is one you really want to read!

The article titled Can you develop the next Gates or Zuckerberg in high school? Combining computer science and entrepreneurship talks about a program that Doug Bergman has created in his school in South Carolina. The project is called Entrepreneurship through Xbox Game & Simulation Development .and I’ve included a blurb from a recent announcement of the 2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum - Round One - Finalists Announced!

Doug Bergman, Porter-Gaud School (Charleston, SC)
Project: Entrepreneurship through Xbox Game & Simulation Development
Students in this hybrid computer science & entrepreneurship class learn how to manage and work on a single large computer programming project as well as develop their own software coding and problem-solving skills. They apply the equally important skills around entrepreneurism using the NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) curriculum, building and eventually presenting an actual business plan for the game idea they choose. Additionally students consider an area in their life (i.e., a subject they are passionate about, an extra-curricular area, or an idea that helps makes the world a better place) and they take that idea and create a game or simulation for the Xbox that teaches, demonstrates, and generates interest in the area they have chosen.

Doug is working cross the curriculum and really taking advantage of student interests to promote learning. He is working closely with his school IT department, Guidance, local colleges and local industry. Guest speakers through the course of the school year help “make it real” for students. It’s great stuff and I encourage you to read the full article.

Doug Bergman came to Microsoft’s attention through the Innovative Education Forum program. There is still a little over a week left to submit applications for the 2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum. The final deadline to apply is May 15th. I’d love to see more computer science teachers submit and share what they are doing in their classrooms. There is a lot of exciting and truly innovative work going on, not just in computer science of course, and the Innovative Education Forums highlights many of them but we don’t know about them unless teachers tell us about them.

I’ll close with a picture of Doug Bergman and some of his students. Looks like they are having fun!


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