In recent months, Europe has seen a flurry of initiatives aimed at fostering greater web talent in Europe and stimulating web entrepreneurship. In her blog, Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission, continuously celebrates and encourages Europe’s tech and web entrepreneurs, as: “people following their dreams and creating their own companies, coming up with ideas and products with the potential to change the way we live, work, play, communicate and collaborate.”
Little has been said up to now of the “education entrepreneurs“ that are dedicated to transforming the way we learn and teach. Education entrepreneurs almost belong to this community of web innovators, and this may well be why they are not higher on the public agenda. I say “almost” because the word “education” is a tricky one when it comes to writing a business plan while keeping in mind the ethical context in which it will be developed. Education is a magical and highly respected word; so respected that it can prevent innovators from entering the field, as they fear seeing their ideas blocked by the “system”, i.e. a set of rules and standards that rigidly command the education systems.
The question that has been on my mind for the last months is therefore: what types of entrepreneurship programmes are effective in promoting innovation in education? My conviction is that, so far, the innovation model in education is largely based on a universal entrepreneurship model that doesn’t fully factor in the specificities of education.
How can entrepreneurship culture connect with education? How can private entrepreneurial initiatives truly transform the way we learn, and how can they adapt to our education systems in an ethical way? How can these start-ups respond to education challenges in terms of efficiency, social equity and cultural diversity?
When it comes to ed-tech entrepreneurs, my question remains the same: How much ed and how much tech? In other words, what is the right mix the entrepreneur must apply between understanding education challenges and injecting innovative vision that encompasses the role of technology?
I would like to propose a road map for ed-tech entrepreneurs based on the following initial principles:
- Specific training/mentoring is required to support the entrepreneurship process from an education perspective.
- Technology is universal, but both learning processes and entrepreneurial minds are strongly influenced by culture.
- Teachers and educators are central to defining and validating innovations in the field of education, and must therefore be integrated in the entrepreneurship process.
- Investors must be trained to understand the specificities of investing in education
A clear roadmap will be central to the process of successfully opening up education to new influences, new ideas and new interests.
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