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Learning by Doing is still the best way for students to “get it”

Posted By Otis J White, Monday, April 28, 2014

As teachers we are always asking the question "what can I do to help my students "get it"? We search for new media, new books, new classroom activities and new technology. But sometimes we forget the old adage that “doing is learning.”

In a recent online class I wanted to make some points about how Social Entrepreneurship (Social Venturing) can be a vehicle to solving big societal problems both locally and around the world. We viewed a video about Tom’s Shoes and Blake Mycoskie the company founder, we blogged about how something as simple as giving away shoes could change the life of children around the world. (Tom’s shoes has given away over 10 million pairs!) We read articles on many other social ventures and the students wrote papers on businesses they would start and how those businesses would solve local or global problems either directly or indirectly. There are endless examples these days to choose from and cases to study.

All that said, it was not until they actually worked the Social Entrepreneurship module in HP Life that I began to received emails saying they finally “got it” and understood the deeper, personal meaning of the movement. An example … “I have attached below my certificate for completing the social entrepreneurship module online. I enjoyed doing it! It was actually more engaging than I expected.” And another … “I definitely liked it. It helped clarify to me what social entrepreneurship is, as opposed to a nonprofit organization, government program, etc. I liked how interactive and easy it was as well. I think it is certainly a good way for students to learn about social entrepreneurship.” These students, and the others, expressed how this small module, placed in the right context of the curriculum, helped them understand the concept.

At Rio Salado College, we have added HP Life modules to over 20 classes in our Small Business and Entrepreneurship online courses. We also have begun adding them to our university transfer courses in Business and Public Administration. Colleagues in other disciplines are also finding uses for these well designed open online learning resources. Our approach is to use them as learning enhancements to existing lessons as well as authentic assessments of learning. Learning by doing is alive and well in the HP Life series of modules. Check them out at:

All the best,
Otis J White
Faculty Chair of Business & Public Administration
Rio Salado College
Tempe, Arizona

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