Note: Starting today, I will recommend the use of “Entrepreneurship” in place of “Technopreneurship” for a number of reasons. First is that I’ve come to realize that they are one and the same. Second is that there is a tendency for some individuals, especially the techie types (that includes me), to focus too much on the technology side and forget about the entrepreneurial aspects when the word “technopreneurship” is used.
First off, I need to acknowledge that an elective course on entrepreneurship (currently labeled technopreneurship) has been designed and integrated within computer science and I.T.(?) programs across a number of universities in Davao City. I’d like to clarify that this post is not intended as a criticism of those courses: I haven’t seen the design of those courses. Rather, I’d like to offer this post as a contribution as well as a means to start a discussion with the relevant individuals responsible for implementing this course. I’ll start by discussing some ideas that have been floating in my head since early last year.
What should be the objectives of the elective?
It’s important, when setting the elective’s objectives, to always keep in mind that its audience does not have a background on management and entrepreneurship. Therefore, to expect them to be entrepreneurial experts able to produce top quality business plans by the end of the elective would be too ambitious. We must note that even MBA students need to go through a number of courses spanning and integrating Finance, Marketing, Operations, and HR before they can effectively take on the new venture planning course. Squeezing this much learning into one tiny elective is too ambitious and will only end up frustrating both the teacher and the learner. Secondly, we also need to keep in mind that some of these students may not at all be interested in entrepreneurship. After all, this is probably why they chose Computer Science or I.T. instead of Business Administration (I realize that we’re talking about students taking an elective here, but I’ve heard that for some schools, this is the only elective available). So we would be doing them a disservice if we forced them into something they didn’t sign up to when they chose the program.
Keeping these two realizations in mind what then should be the course’s objectives?
Produce entrepreneurial experts? No.
Produce business planning experts? No.
Produce businessmen and women? No.
The course’s objective should be simply to produce students who know their place in a business. The course only needs to teach the student the significance of each “pillar” (i.e. Finance, Marketing, Operations, HR) of the organization, but not the intricacies of each. That is, she should understand by the end of the course the purpose of Finance, Marketing, Operations, and HR, but not necessarily how they go about fulfilling that purpose.
At the end of the elective, if the student becomes interested in acquiring more knowledge on entrepreneurship, then very good! She can learn more by enrolling in management programs or joining business planning competitions (provided they team up with business-minded individuals) on their own free will. If, however, at the end of the elective the student still is not interested in entrepreneurship, then so be it. Like I said, It’s not, after all, what she signed up for when he chose C.S. or I.T. for his program.
What should be required of the students to pass the course?
As I’ve hinted above, requiring the students to produce business plans by the end of the course is unrealistic. We can’t expect them to effectively undertake market research, market segmentation, discounted cash flow analysis, organizational planning, etc. after taking just one elective. The only requirement that I see fit for this kind of course and for the kind of students it intends to teach is a final written exam testing them on their understanding of a business and its pillars.
Who should design and manage the course?
With all due respect to the C.S. and I.T. faculty of the universities here in Davao (I know you are all knowledgeable in the fields that you are in), I believe that the course would be better designed by the faculty of management. Just as a software programming course is better designed and implemented by someone who knows programming, so must an elective on entrepreneurship be designed by someone who knows business management. These are just some of my initial thoughts on the course’s design. My hope is that it somehow starts a discussion among the relevant individuals in the Davao academe. Any comments and suggestions are more than welcome. You may use the comment box below for now.