Welcome! Alex here from Straight Up. The course syllabus below is being built and shared in response to a challenge issued to me by Dr. Doan Winkel (of John Carroll University). He challenged me to use my favorite stuff to design the entrepreneurship course I’d always wanted to teach – my dream course. I took him up on it and we got to work to create a version with his students in mind – their dream course for learning the most possible. And we decided to share our whole process. You can eavesdrop on our next design conversation here »  and you can catch a description and replay of the first one here »  If you’re an educator, you can catch any design sessions you missed and access everything we come up with by registering as a Straight Up Educator »  That’ll turn on all of the links in the schedule below. If you’re already registered then don’t forget to sign back in (at the top right side of this page). And thanks for being here!

By Alex Bruton, Ph.D.

Activity Schedule

This is our teaching and learning Activity Schedule for the semester. Think of it as the definitive reference for what we’ll be doing / did every day.

Collapse / or expand each date range for details. Check it daily to stay current.

Week 1: Welcome + getting our feet under us

Welcome! This is our first week together. We’ll be getting to know each other a little, and you’ll learn what the course is all about. There’s nothing formally due for marks yet but don’t miss it – we’ll be covering some pretty important stuff, you’ll have a few “mini badges” to complete to get your feet under you, and we will begin learning some of the key concepts.

Note for educators: The material used in this first week is discussed in detail as part of the Dream Entrepreneurship Course Experiment – with the goals of providing a rich and thoughtful narrative of the teaching and learning aspects, and helping you duplicate any part(s) of it you might want for your own courses. Anyone can listen to the first part of that discussion here »  Registered educators can find the whole discussion here »  And each of the links below takes you to the relevant topics in the Educators Hub, where you can find full teaching notes, handouts, slides, and other materials.

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Aug 28Welcome!
  • I’ll provide an introduction to the course - to help you get to know me and to help you get to know what to expect in a class like this
  • We’ll do a first ideation warm-up activity called Who’s in the Room?. It’s part ice breaker, part creativity warm-up, and - importantly - part introduction to ideation. In fact, as simple as this activity may seem, it’s the first of three mini sessions we’re going to do on what I call the Ideation Fundamentals, and it’ll form the basis of your first quiz
  • I’ll also hand out a version of the course outline for you to read so we can discuss it together next time, and your first two mini-badges
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Thu Aug 30In today’s class you will need to Challenge the Minefield, with the goals of: 1) getting to know each other a little better; and 2) working as a class on a common challenge; and 3) introducing us to innovation and entrepreneurship. Details will be announced in class.Be sure to dress in comfortable clothing for this activity. Nothing’s due coming into today’s class, but there’s no reason you can’t get a start on Mini Badges 1 and 2 that are due next week.
HomeworkDo the following before next Tuesday’s class:
  1. Mini Badge 1: Get set up on Google Drive
  2. Mini Badge 2: Your first mini ideastorming assignment

Week 2: Basic training + key tools / concepts

Welcome back! This second week’s super important. We’re going to roll up our sleeves and put some tools to work, and you’ll be expected to start getting serious about building your own personal practice in ideation. Starting with the homework you did over the weekend, you’ll begin the journey from the lay person’s understanding of brainstorming to a more sophisticated understanding of what it means to be truly good at ideastorming, i.e. from blindly playing the ideation odds to deliberately changing your odds of success. All of this is to get you ready to go even deeper next week when we launch the Venture Design Studio project.

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Sep 4Welcome back!
  • We’ll start today with a second ideation warm-up. Like the one we did last week, it’s intended partly to get us warmed up and partly to help you get acquainted with the Ideation Fundamentals we began studying last time.
  • Then we’re going to spend the rest of the class doing something I call Brute Force Ideation, a simple (and as you will see, sometimes flawed) approach to coming up with ideas as a group.
  • And we’ll close by briefly discussing the course outline. I’ll invite your input and take your questions on it.
Mini Badges 1 and 2 need to be completed before the start of class today. Be sure also to bring to class a printed copy of your personal ideastorming work from Mini Badge 2.
Thu Sep 6Today:
  • We’ll start today with a third ideation warm-up. This is the last of the series and will serve to round out the Ideation Fundamentals we’ve been studying. In turn, these will be a key part of Quiz 1 to take place next week.
  • Then we’re going to play a round of the Idea Maker Game - a high-paced design thinking based ideation game - using the Cardboard Challenge constraint. You’re challenged to try and win the game of course, but it’s really meant as a way of giving you the basic training you’re going to need on how to use the tools in your Idea Design Kit. As we’ll discuss, the basics of using these tools will also be tested on Quiz 1.
All of this will be important as we get into the upcoming Venture Design Studio project
HomeworkI recommend you use the weekend to prepare for Quiz 1. As we have discussed, this will cover:
  • The Ideation Fundamentals we’ve been treating this and last week through the ideation warm-ups
  • The use of the Idea Slide Rules for turning feedback received into a place on the impact-feasibility chart

Week 3: More basic training and VDS launch

Week 3 already! By the end of this week you’ll have all the Ideation Fundamentals in hand, and you’ll be able to criticize what people do when they come up with idea (if they do it at all). You’ll also be ready to start the Venture Design Studio, one of most engaging experiential learning activities in this course.

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Sep 11
  • We’re going to start today with a last round of the Idea Maker Game - to crown a winner and draw some conclusions for your own growing practice in strategic ideation.
  • Then you’ll write Quiz 1 in class. As we’ve discussed, it’ll be completely open book and open notes and should take you 20 minutes to complete.
  • And to wrap things up, I’ll hand out Mini Badge 3: Picking a Darn Good Team form that you need to complete before next class. We’ll be picking teams and launching the Venture Design Studio (VDS)!
Quiz 1 will be at the start of class today
Thu Sep 13Today:
  • We’ll begin the Team Formation activity using your Picking a Darn Good Team forms
  • You’ll form teams and complete a Unanimous Team Members’ Agreement
  • I will also get you the Venture Design Studio (VDS) handout so you can read it over and get started before next class
Your Picking a Darn Good Team form needs to be completed before you come to class today to earn Mini Badge 3 and so you can get on a team.
Team homeworkThings are going to pick up even more now, so I’d urge you to review and get familiar with the Venture Design Studio (VDS) project and handouts, and what’s going to be assessed. Your team can also begin working on the VDS (you have the basic skills in hand, after all).

By this Friday at noon:
  1. Let me know your team name and its members’ names, and email me your completed Unanimous Team Members’ Agreement if you didn’t get it to me in class for some reason (I’ll use this to set up a team folder for you on Google Drive).
Before the start of class on Thursday Sep 20 submit the following to your team folder on Google Drive:
  1. One Idea Napkin » for your team’s best idea, using the Google Drive template
  2. The link to an Idea Page for the same idea - do this by completing Day 1 and Day 2 of the Idea Maker Course » using one of your team member’s Idea Pages, and then adding the URL for your Idea Page to your Idea Napkin so I can find it
  3. A photo, sketch, or other pretendotype of your offering (learn what a pretendotype is in this session »)
At the start of class on Thursday Sep 20, be prepared to:
  • Deliver your 90 second pitch for assessment and feedback from a panel of guests (they will be using the criteria and process described here »)
  • Show your pretendotype as part of your pitch

Week 4: Level 1 of the VDS

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Sep 18
  • I’ll facilitate part of this class, but you’ll get to use most of it to work on Level 1 of the VDS
  • I’ll also answer any questions about what’s due and expected in this first iteration
The homework assigned for this week is listed at the end of last week.
Thu Sep 20Level 1 VDS pitches and submissions today:
  • Your models are due before class via your team’s Google Drive folder
  • We will have a guest panel and you’ll do your 90 second pitches for Level 2 of the Venture Design Studio (they will be using the criteria and process described here »)
  • You’ll be invited to submit your Investment Notes before being provided with the panel members’ scores
  • We’ll debrief and discuss while our judges are still with us
The homework assigned for today is listed at the end of last week. Don’t miss the very specific deliverables listed there.

Tonight you also need to level up to Level 2 by doing the look-back learning reflection linked below under ’individual homework’.
Individual homeworkBefore midnight on Thu Sep 20 you need to level up to Level 2 by completing the look-back learning reflection for Level 1. This will be emailed to you via D2L after class today.

(Note for educators: You can see a preview of that process here »)
Team homeworkI’ll formally assign Level 2 of the VDS next week, but you can begin the work already since it includes a second iteration of what you did here. I’ll also scan the judges’ feedback sheets and put them in your team folder you can assess yourself.

Week 5: Level 2 of the VDS

This week we’ll begin iteration 2 of the Venture Design Studio. As you’ll see, it’s the same as the first – so you can iterate and improve based on the feedback you received – but also different because you’ll have a little more time and because we’re adding a few things to start getting you out in front of people to test your assumptions. The pace is going to keep picking up, so I’d urge you to stay on top of the requirements and handouts, and review what’s going to be assessed.

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Sep 25Today:
  • Is a stage-setting class for the second iteration of the Venture Design Studio
  • I’ll facilitate part of it - debriefing what went down last time, and introducing what’s new for this iteration
  • The rest of the time will be yours to begin your work
Be sure you’ve reviewed the feedback you got last time and charted it using the Idea Slide Rules. Today I’ll also clarify which new material will show up on Quiz 2.
Thu Sep 27
  • We’ll start today with Quiz 2 - it’s open book, 20 minutes long, and on the subject of the new tools added this iteration
  • I’ll also answer any questions about what’s due and expected in this second iteration
Quiz 2 will be at the start of class today
Team homeworkBefore the start of class on Tuesday Oct 2 submit the following to your team folder on Google Drive:
  1. An updated version of the Idea Napkin » for your team’s best idea, using the same Google Drive document you submitted before (so we can track changes)
  2. An updated photo, sketch, or other pretendotype of your offering (learn what a pretendotype is in this session »)
  3. NEW: One Value Proposition Wheel » for your idea, using the Google Drive template (learn how to use this together with the Break It and Better It Form in this session »)
  4. NEW: At least five (5) Break It and Better It forms » for your idea (these can use the Google Drive template or just scans / photos of handwritten copies, but there should be this many in total in your folder)
  5. The link to an Idea Page for the same idea - do this by completing Days 1 through 3 of the Idea Maker Course » using the same Idea Page as last time (and be sure to include the URL for this page in your Idea Napkin so I can find it)
At the start of class on Tuesday Oct 2, be prepared to:
  • Deliver your 120-second pitch for assessment and feedback from a panel of guests (they will again use the criteria and process described here »)
  • Show your pretendotype as part of your pitch

Week 6: Level 2 of the VDS + Innovation Tournament launch

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Oct 2Level 2 VDS pitches and submissions today:
  • Your models are due before class via your team’s Google Drive folder
  • We will have a guest panel and you’ll do your 120 second pitches for Level 2 of the Venture Design Studio (they will again use the criteria and process described here »)
  • You’ll be invited to submit your Investment Notes before being provided with the panel members’ scores
  • We’ll debrief and discuss while our judges are still with us
The homework assigned for today’s class is listed at the end of last week. Don’t miss the very specific deliverables listed there. Your models are due before class and your pitch takes place in class.

Tonight you also need to level up to Level 3 by doing the look-back learning reflection linked below under ’individual homework’.
Wed Oct 3Tonight at 6 PM we’ll launch the Innovation Tournament. This is an evening event and it’s critical that everyone on every team from every section is there for this.
Thu Oct 4No regular class today. Use the time to work on your Innovation Tournament submission and see your teacher if you have questions (note, however, that because of the nature of the tournament, your teacher can only answer your questions and can’t coach you)
Individual homeworkBefore midnight on Tue Oct 2 you need to level up to Level 3 by completing the look-back learning reflection for Level 2. This will be emailed to you via D2L after class today.

(Note for educators: You can see a preview of that process here »)
Team homeworkBefore midnight on Wed Oct 10 submit your Innovation Tournament video - details provided at the launch and via D2L.

Week 7: Innovation Tournament Finale

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Oct 9No class today. Use the time to work on your Innovation Tournament submission.
Wed Oct 10Innovation Tournament submissions due at 11:59 pm today. See D2L for details.
Thu Oct 11Innovation Tournament in-class finale today.
Individual homeworkNo individual homework tonight. Well done on the Innovation Tournament. See you next week when we’ll restart the VDS!
Team homeworkYou can start working as a team on your VDS project again. We’ll be back at it next week!

Week 8: Pitch workshop + Level 3 of the VDS

This week we’ll get back to the the Venture Design Studio. We’re going to start with a pitch workshop in which I’ll introduce a pitching framework to the class. Then we’ll move on to Iteration 3 of the VDS. As you’ll see, it’s the same as the second but with a few additional requirements – so you can iterate and improve based on the feedback you’ve been receiving. Continuing with the theme from iteration 2, you’ll get new tools that emphasize that everyone is not your customer. The pace is going to keep picking up, so I’d urge you to stay on top of the requirements and handouts, and review what’s going to be assessed.

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Oct 16Today will be a little different. We’re going to do a little workshop on How to Pitch Your Passion in 2-3 Minutes. I’ll be handing out a key framework for this, and we’ll put it to work together during the session so you can use it in this third iteration of the VDS.
Thu Oct 18Today:
  • We’ll do some "pitching in the round". For this, the first 40 seconds of your team’s pitch must exactly follow the structure in the pitch framework.
  • The rest of the class will be a stage-setting class for the third iteration of the Venture Design Studio. I’ll facilitate part of it - debriefing what went down last time, and introducing what’s new for this iteration - which focuses on the notion that everyone is not your customer. If there’s any time remaining, you can begin preparing for Quiz 3 and/or for this next iteration.
Be sure you’ve reviewed the feedback you got last iteration of the VDS and charted it using the Idea Slide Rules. Today I’ll also clarify which new material will show up on Quiz 3.
Team homeworkBefore the start of class on Tuesday Oct 30 you need to submit the following to your team folder on Google Drive:
  1. An updated version of the Idea Napkin » for your team’s best idea, using the same Google Drive document you submitted before (so we can track changes)
  2. An updated photo, sketch, or other pretendotype of your offering (refresh yourself on what a pretendotype is in this session »)
  3. One or two Value Proposition Wheels » for your idea, using the Google Drive template (learn how to use this together with the Break It and Better It Form in this session »)
  4. NEW: At least five (5) more Break It and Better It forms » for your idea, meaning you’ll have at least ten (10) now (these can use the Google Drive template or just scans / photos of handwritten copies, but there should be this many in total in your folder)
  5. NEW: One Customer and Market Worksheet » (we’ll discuss this in class too)
  6. The link to an Idea Page for the same idea - do this by completing Days 1 through 3 of the Idea Maker Course » using the same Idea Page as last time (and be sure to include the URL for this page in your Idea Napkin so I can find it)
At the start of class on Tuesday Oct 30, be prepared to:
  • Deliver a 150-second pitch of your current venture design for assessment and feedback from a panel of guests (they will again use the criteria and process described here »)
  • Show your pretendotype as part of your pitch

Week 9: Level 3 of the VDS (continued)

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Oct 23Today we’ll have Quiz 3 at the start of class. The rest of the period will be a jam session for working on your submissions for Level 3 of the VDS.The homework assigned for this iteration is listed at the end of last week. Don’t miss the very specific deliverables listed there.
Thu Oct 25No regular class today. Use the time to get ready for next time.
Individual homeworkNo individual homework this week. It’s all about Level 3 of the VDS!
Team homeworkThe team homework assigned for this iteration is listed at the end of last week. Don’t miss the very specific deliverables listed there.

Week 10: Level 3 (cont.) + Level 4 of the VDS

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Oct 30Level 3 VDS pitches and submissions today:
  • Your models are due before class via your team’s Google Drive folder
  • We will have a guest panel and you’ll do your 150 second pitches for Level 3 of the Venture Design Studio (they will again use the criteria and process described here »)
  • You’ll be invited to submit your Investment Notes before being provided with the panel members’ scores
  • We’ll debrief and discuss while our judges are still with us
The homework assigned for today’s class is listed at the end of last week. Don’t miss the very specific deliverables listed there. Your models are due before class and your pitch takes place in class.

Tonight you also need to level up to Level 4 by doing the look-back learning reflection linked below under ’individual homework’.
Thu Nov 1Today:
  • Is a stage-setting class for the fourth iteration of the Venture Design Studio
  • I’ll facilitate part of it - debriefing what went down last time, and introducing what’s new for this iteration
  • The rest of the time will be yours to begin your work
Individual homeworkBefore midnight on Tue Oct 30 you need to level up to Level 4 by completing the look-back learning reflection for Level 3. This will be emailed to you via D2L after class today.

(Note for educators: You can see a preview of that process here »)
Team homeworkBefore the start of class on Tuesday Nov 6 you need to submit the following to your team folder on Google Drive:
  1. An Idea Model » for your team’s best idea, using the Google Drive version (so we can track changes) - note that this is a slightly deeper version of the Idea Napkin you’ve been working with up until now
  2. A pretotype (refresh yourself on what a pretotype is in this session »)
  3. One or two updated Value Proposition Wheels » for your idea, using the Google Drive template (learn how to use this together with the Break It and Better It Form in this session »)
  4. One updated Customer and Market Worksheet »
  5. NEW: At least five (5) more Break It and Better It forms » for your idea, meaning you’ll have at least fifteen (15) now (these can use the Google Drive template or just scans / photos of handwritten copies, but there should be this many in total in your folder)
  6. The link to an Idea Page for the same idea - do this by completing Days 1 through 3 of the Idea Maker Course » using the same Idea Page as last time (and be sure to include the URL for this page in your Idea Model so I can find it)
At the start of class on Tuesday Nov 6, be prepared to:
  • Deliver a 180-second pitch of your current venture design for assessment and feedback from a panel of guests (they will again use the criteria and process described here »)
  • Show your pretotype as part of your pitch

Week 11: Level 4 (cont.) + Level 5 of the VDS

DateActivities and topicsThings due or required
Tue Nov 6Level 4 VDS pitches and submissions today:
  • Your models are due before class via your team’s Google Drive folder
  • We will have a guest panel and you’ll do your 180 second pitches for Level 4 of the Venture Design Studio (they will again use the criteria and process described here »)
  • You’ll be invited to submit your Investment Notes before being provided with the panel members’ scores
  • We’ll debrief and discuss while our judges are still with us
The homework assigned for today’s class is listed at the end of last week. Don’t miss the very specific deliverables listed there. Your models are due before class and your pitch takes place in class.

Tonight you also need to level up to Level 5 by doing the look-back learning reflection linked below under ’individual homework’.
Thu Nov 8Today:
  • Is a stage-setting class for the final iteration of the Venture Design Studio
  • I’ll facilitate part of it - debriefing what went down last time, and introducing what’s new for this iteration
  • The rest of the time will be yours to begin your work
Individual homeworkBefore midnight on Tue Nov 6 you need to level up to Level 5 by completing the look-back learning reflection for Level 3. This will be emailed to you via D2L after class today.

(Note for educators: You can see a preview of that process here »)
Team homeworkTBA

Just click on the other weeks above to expand them. And watch this space as we build out the design for the rest of the semester …

At a glance

The table below summarizes the key dates and deliverables at a glance. The full Activity Schedule should be consulted for the rest of the details. All dates are subject to change and I will discuss with you /  make you aware of any required changes.

DateActivity
Aug 28First day of class!
Sep 4Mini Badges 1 and 2 due
Sep 11Quiz 1 in class
Sep 13Mini Badge 3 is due
Sep 20Pitch, models, and look-back-reflections due for Level 1 of the VDS
Sep 27Quiz 2 in class
Oct 2Pitch, models, and look-back-reflections due for Level 2 of the VDS
Oct 10Innovation Tournament submission due at 11:59 pm today
Oct 30Pitch, models, and look-back-reflections due for Level 3 of the VDS
Nov 6Pitch, models, and look-back-reflections due for Level 4 of the VDS
TBAOther key deliverables will be posted here as we go …

This section briefly outlines the key resources used in the course.

Idea Design Kits

1. We’re going make extensive use of the tools found in this Idea Design Kit » You can purchase these into your center or bookstore at an educator’s discount, or you can have your students download the contents for free from the Straight Up Toolkit »  In the latter case, you can also have your students make their own Idea Slide Rules or download it in iOS app form, as discussed here »

My students seem to express a strong preference for having their own kits, even though they have to pay for them. They say this is because they get to hold them in their hands and because they like the kit folder which also serves as a way to hold and manage their designs throughout the term. That said, the free versions are available for those who can’t or don’t want to pay for the kits.