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Educating Computer Science undergraduates for digital entrepreneurship: key ideas to consolidate in our work

Complementing the previous post (see here) in which I presented a summarized description of our work designing and putting into practice a teaching program aiming at the development of competences for digital entrepreneurship among students in a Computer Science Faculty, in this entry I compile some key ideas our proposed model is based on and which play a crucial role to be consolidated over the next editions of this program.

The notion of team governs several important aspects of the proposal. First, the collaborative approach seems essential to organize students’ work, both “in the building” and “out of the building”. Besides that, it is also essential for the teachers, given that each of them act as a “program leader” for the contents corresponding to each of the blocks of a digital business covered in the program, so they must build a team themselves aligning their visions regarding the structure and approach to use (i.e. so that they are not “knowledge islands” with no interconnection whatsoever). Last, the very concept of team is a crucial part of the key elements to understand how to create a digital business, and therefore it must provide the backbone of one of the learning blocks: how the team is organized in the initial steps of an entrepreneurial activity, which competences and profiles are necessary, which style of leadership is better, etc.

It is also very important the integration of real projects and customers, substituting any simulation that might be organized inside the classroom with the teachers. Our students have confirmed the great value obtained by learning via “getting out of the building” and exploring, discovering and contrasting they were not aware of inside the classroom. Besides, the opportunity to interact with representatives from local SMEs through customer development interviews provides two important benefits: students get in contact with enterprises and managers like the ones they are going to interact with during their professional career, and they start dealing with environments of high uncertainty, in which customer development interviews don’t always go as planned and it is necessary to face them with a great deal of exploratory spirit.

Last, I also want to highlight the great value obtained by using real and close cases, far from the typical “case studies” extracted from contexts completely unrelated to what these students’ future practical experience is going to be like (at least in most of the cases). I must also highlight the essential role played by the Junior Enterprise Magna SIS, whose members (students after all, just like the ones taking part in the program) provide their own detailed experience launching a digital entrepreneurial initiative, with the necessary detail for other students to understand its complexity but, at the same time, with the proximity of someone who understands perfectly the targeted audience and knows therefore how to integrate the right message into students’ development as future professionals.

As I mentioned in my previous post, our academic paper is available to be directly downloaded (link to PDF, in Spanish).

[Haz clic aquí para la versión en español de esta entrada]

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