Last September 16 to 21, over 70 professors and educators from PhilDev’s partner TechHubs and its cohorts participated in a Faculty Training on Technopreneurship teaching which aims to integrate social impact concepts in the Technopreneurship 101 (T101) subject.
In partnership with UNDP Philippines and the Australian Embassy in the Philippines through the Innovation for Social Impact Partnership (ISIP) project, participants underwent a six-day training where they experienced building their own startups which impact is aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ken Singer, Managing Director of the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley); and David Law, Director of Global Academic Programs also at UC Berkeley, lead once again the training sessions where they shared with the participants knowledge, skills, and tools to be able to develop an enhanced T101 course outline with integrated social impact concepts and frameworks.
This is not the first time Ken and David trained faculty members in the Philippines on technopreneurship. PhilDev has sought the expertise of the two Berkeley professors to strengthen Philippine higher education institutions’ capacity to teach T101 in the previous years.
Simulating the Startup Journey
According to Ken, the best way to teach entrepreneurship is to experience being an entrepreneur. One of the main outputs of the professors in the training is to build their startup. Participants simulated the startup journey throughout the training and were able to ideate diverse business solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
In processing the exercise, Ken and David introduced the Masterclass method to the participants. According to Ken and David, they use the Masterclass method when evaluating their class at UC Berkeley. The method allows them to evaluate the students through the critiques and recommendations they provide to the presenters.
“Masterclasses are incredibly important because the team gets very comfortable talking in front of people and defending their ideas. But it also gets the audience active in the learning process, they become inquisitive and critical,” Ken explained.
Ken and David recommend that the professors use the Masterclass method as well in teaching the Technopreneurship course as it will enhance their students’ critical thinking skills.
Aside from the Masterclass method, Ken and David also introduced video blogging (vlog) as a way to draw out the students’ insights and feedback on a topic or class activity. Ken and David asked the professors during the training to also record vlogs to showcase their reflections and lessons from the topics they learned.
As part of their startup journey in the training, participants were also allowed to seek advice from mentors. Most of the professors are also experts in a particular STEAM field which allowed them to also provide inputs to other groups’ startup ideas.
Once these professors return to their universities, they will also provide mentorship opportunities to their students taking T101. The university, according to David, is a “perfect kind of fertile environment” for students to have this. “The university is a place where they can find great mentors or just people who can provide professional development advice for them,” David added.
Taking the Lead in Technopreneurship Education
In an interview, Ken was impressed with the implementation of T101 in the Philippines nationwide. “This is, in fact, the first place in the world that I know that has mandated all students who will be graduating from a particular college [Engineering]. I think that’s amazing and I think that’s fantastic. I have not seen that anywhere else. It’s an opportunity to take a lead in that space,” Ken shared.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) rolled out T101 across all 539 higher education institutions in the country in 2018. Supporting this rollout is the establishment of the TechHubs strategically located across PhilDev’s partner universities nationwide. Part of the TechHubs’ objectives is to help professors and educators enhance further their knowledge and skills in technopreneurship.
Dr. Mary Rose Imperial, Head of the Technical Working Group on Technopreneurship at CHED, shared the importance of building the capacities of faculty members in teaching technopreneurship, “Before they [professors] can even facilitate T101 in their classrooms, they should have a different perspective, a different mindset, and that is the mindset of a technopreneur.”
Dubbed as the great equalizer, the T101 was established to create individual technical entrepreneurs according to Dr. Rigoberto Advincula, principal author of T101 and member of PhilDev’s Board of Trustees.
Aside from CHED, PhilDev collaborated with leading universities in technopreneurship education in the Philippines and the United States in developing the subject.
Reflecting on the Journey
Participants also expressed their positive feedback regarding the training. Laila Lavandero, a Civil Engineering professor at Central Luzon State University (CLSU), shared the lessons she learned from the training.
“Before the Faculty Training, I expected to teach T101 in a one-size-fits-all manner. We just follow a pattern and that’s it. But through the Faculty Training, I realized that the approach varies on the kinds of students you are teaching, from time to time you need to learn how to adjust and adapt to the class,” Laila realized.
Miguel Remolona, a Chemical Engineering professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) and also a startup founder himself, noted as well the advantage of having a social impact aspect in a startup.
“For me, it builds your credibility when you target social impact. When you say that your solution is trying to achieve a social impact, more people are willing to listen. In the entrepreneurship perspective, when you get people to listen, you get people to buy,” Miguel shared.
At the end of the program, groups with the best ideas and pitch presentations were recognized. The following groups were awarded:
Nexcellence (1st Placer)
Idea: An immersive mobile video game that aims to raise awareness of domestic violence
BESTplus (2nd Placer)
Idea: An online marketplace that offers herbs and spices locally grown by women in organized communities
MomSee (3rd Placer)
Idea: A mobile application that can help pregnant mothers monitor their health and increase access to maternal medical care information and services
The best vlog for the week was also awarded to Cris Hate, a Computer Engineering professor at the Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP).
David, who has been training professors and educators on technopreneurship with PhilDev since 2015, expressed the importance of technopreneurship in the country’s development, “Technopreneurship is really critical to economic development. It crosses boundaries in both developed countries and developing countries. It is a really important engine for economic growth.”
The Faculty Training is one of the activities of the ISIP project, a project co-implemented by PhilDev, UNDP in the Philippines, and the Australian Embassy in the Philippines.