Lani Fraizer

Lani teaches social entrepreneurship in the areas of education and information and communication technology (ICT).

Ashoka U Spotlight: Top tips for designing a new SE course

#1 Changemaking is a lifelong commitment.

Before you jump-start a course to teach others about Changemaking, embrace the Changemaker in you. More often than not, students can spot between an unprepared “noob” and a savvy practitioner. Make sure that you are well versed in the lingo, the research, and what other educators and practitioners are doing. Future leaders are counting on you to shepherd them through the learning process—do your homework, be prepared, and embrace the marvelous rollercoaster to come. Have fun!

#2 Changemaking is about workforce development too

The reality is students in your class are probably seeking a career change or new career opportunities. They need a good understanding of the skills they need to compete in today’s job market and/or operate a successful business venture. If your social entrepreneurship course is being offered in non-traditional schools like liberal arts, computer science, or education and psychology it’s critical to be well-versed in the 21st century skills that future Changemakers will need to get started. Thread in the curriculum topics related to business literacy, technology, social media and management. Yes, passion and understanding of matters affecting human welfare are important elements but fundamental skills are needed to tackle such complex work.

#3 Check-in with your Changemakers daily

When teaching a course, remember that students are your most important clients. Before you get started, put your finger on the pulse, check for breathing, vital signs, and assess what their needs are before day 1. Consider sending out an online survey to get a good understanding, then tailor your curriculum a bit to make sure it addresses their needs and expectations too. Check-in with them weekly. Remember, they’re not your students, they’re Changemaker apprentices—your future Changemaking colleagues. Treat them with respect and actively listen to their needs.

#4 Learning is organic, sometimes messy

Sometimes the best learning outcomes come from unexpected situations, kind of like an aha! moment for Changemakers when they figure out the social issue they’re compelled to solve. Give your course plans and activities the proper guidance but enough flexibility so that learning can happen organically and spontaneously. For me, it helps to imagine: what if Changemakers and social entrepreneurs ruled the world a 20 years from now? What would school for Changemakers be like? Find a way to make space for innovation, creativity, and personal meaningful learning to help make a lasting, sustainable experience for students.

#5 Celebrate daily and strengthen through community

Help students celebrate their personal progress, and immerse them in community as part of their leadership growth. At the end of the day, what matters most is that students come away transformed, inspired, and/or find deeper meaning in (1) how to help others by developing skills they need to be successful Changemakers, and equipped to do their job well, and (2) a deep understanding about their personal growth as leaders and (3) in-depth understanding about their root cause: social issues which keep them up at night. It’s also critical that they are introduced to an external community of other Changemakers during the course so that they can sustain this momentum after the class is over.

Adapted from “21st Century Social Change Makers and Next Generation Social Entrepreneurs” (Fraizer, 2009).