Friday, November 25, 2005

13. Learners as entrepreneurs

One way to foster passionate learners is to think of them as entrepreneurs. As such, there are certain driving factors that need to be in play in order for them to operate properly.

Driving factors for entrepreneurs*
Motivation is one driving factor, propelled by the:
Need for achievement;
- Desire for independence;
- Wish of better working conditions;
- Longing to act like entrepreneurial their role-models;
- Thrill of risk-taking.

An enabling environment is another driving factor involving, for example:
- A vision or sense that motivates the initiator to act;
- Skills and expertise including present know-how plus confidence to be able to obtain know-how needed in the future;
- Expectation of personal economic and/or psychological benefits;
- Access to digital tools of participation;
- Conditions and policies providing comfort and support.

Naturally, the importance of these factors varies for each learner and learning situation. Nonetheless, raising awareness of the driving factors, in-group or on a one-to-one basis, helps boost motivation and identify deficiencies in the enabling online environment.

Need to involve risks
Entrepreneurs are risk-takers by default. Oddly enough, taking risks when converting passion into new possibilities seems to lower the risk as successful entrepreneurs generate more options for themselves than risk-avert people. Could it be that risk-averts are the real risk-takers, as the former are more vulnerable to change than the latter? Change being the only thing we know for sure will happen.

If we are to learn from entrepreneurs, a passionate learning environment needs to involve risk at some level, real or imagined. Not forgetting that passionate learning, just like entrepreneurship, can hardly be taught, as the founder of Body Shop Dame Anita Roddick in the picture above claims. What is possible, though, is to strengthen the enabling learning environment.

Learning about the rules of the game
Viewing online learning educators as first and foremost providing an arena for learners to expand their zone of influence, the challenge is to motivate the learners to not only invest their intellectual capabilities, but also their social being and economic resources, converted into time units, to create opportunities beyond the online classroom. In other words, enthuse them to take risks. In its most straightforward form, it is about inspiring learners to formulate, ask and reformulate, questions that help them learn the rules of the game you want them to play.

Learning as an entrepreneur is to take a personal responsibility in making your passion become your guiding star, drawing energy from your inner self and view slip-ups as an valuable learning opportunity. In fact, “the road to success is to double your mistakes”, if we are to take the advice from the founder of IBM.

* Shane S, Korvereid L, Westhead P. The Quest for Holy Grail: Looking for a Universal Theory of the Motivations and Environmental Influences that Promote Entrepreneurship. Working Paper No. 3024/1991. Bodö Graduate School of Business, Nordland University Centre. In Lordkipanidze M, Brezet H, Backman M. The Entrepreneurship Factor in Sustainable Tourism Development. Draft paper. International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University.

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