Blog post compiled by Neil Coles, Senior Enterprise Learning Officer, Cardiff University (ColesN@cardiff.ac.uk and Twitter @1NeilColes) and winner of National Enterprise Educator Award 2013 for the ‘Enterprise through the curriculum at Cardiff University’ project.
Many consider that enterprise education only relates to supporting the ‘could be’ entrepreneur in the ways of establishing a profitable enterprise. The use of the words ‘entrepreneur’, ‘profit’ and a focus on ‘business start-up’ may encourage many to click away, however …
Enterprise education is more than supporting individuals in the field of entrepreneurship; it’s also about helping students to recognise their ability to make a change within any field. Some would say this is employability, to which I agree, but the difference is that enterprise education is founded on examining the entrepreneurial individual, and applying those characteristics and abilities to the development others.
How does an entrepreneur act? How to they approach things? What makes them do what they do?
Entrepreneurs’ are known to be able to generate ideas and make things happen so, if those on a route to employment can replicate and learn these abilities, can they possibly advance in any sector?
I was recently honoured to be presented with the HEA sponsored 2013 National Enterprise Educator Award from both the National Council for Entrepreneurship Education and Enterprise Educators UK for work in supporting academic staff at Cardiff University to develop enterprise learning across the curriculum. I do not believe that each and every student will or should become an entrepreneur, but my aim is to deliver academically-able graduates who can generate and deliver on their ideas. My role is a constant learning journey that involves a conceptual knowledge of the discipline and consideration of language before working with our research-led teaching staff. I believe in encouraging enterprise in context through their subject, not enterprise as an extra. Deeper learning of the subject is just as important as of enterprise and both can work together to aid each other.
Pedagogical approaches to learning can support us in this endeavour. Let me take you through a few Cardiff University examples. From a discussion with Dr Vincent Knight - why not allow mathematics students’ to apply their skills in the generation of prime numbers to a growth industry; that of the need for more and more IP addresses? Another is for language students with Dr Jeremy Evas – student coordinated translation services for an external SME who wishes to exploit new markets. The approach of offering a live or industry related case example both excites and challenges the students who will be able to go forward referencing a real example of commercial awareness. Enterprise education is best served when a real experience is offered, which you could say is just good engaged teaching as it allows for an applied subject understanding. The approaches used within our ‘embedding enterprise’ project are used by good teachers who recognise the difference between telling and experiencing.
The advice I would offer to anyone considering enabling enterprise through their teaching is first to read the QAA (2012) guidance document, then begin to consider how the language of the document relates to their subject. The growing enterprise education agenda is built on an ethos of sharing for collective cultural change, so I am more than happy to discuss our approach to the agenda with anyone in more depth…. that is if anyone is still reading!