Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education

Course Number 1525

Senior Lecturer John J-H Kim
Winter; Q3; 1.5 credits
14 Sessions
Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education was formerly part of the 3-credit course, Entrepreneurship in Education Reform (1602).

See video overview


Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education (ETIE) is a new course that explores how entrepreneurs are applying business practices and/or technology innovations to transform K-12 education to lead to higher performance. It is intended for students interested in creating, leading, or supporting education enterprises. It will also be of interest to those seeking to better understand the system so that they can contribute effectively as board members or volunteers in non-profit organizations with a social and/or educational mission. No prior experience in public education is required.

Educational Objectives

The U.S. spends more than $600 billion each year in providing public education to more than 50 million children in K - 12th grade. Prosperity and competitiveness of nations are closely linked to educational outcomes of its citizens; individual educational performance, as early as third grade, can predict life outcomes. Despite ranking in the top tier in terms of per-pupil spending, the U.S. continues to lag by virtually every international measure of proficiency. Perhaps more problematic is the persistent achievement gap between sub-groups of students (e.g., white, middle class and affluent students on the one hand and African- American, Hispanic and low-income students on the other).

Beginning in the early 1990s, significant entrepreneurial activity emerged in response to this performance gap in the nation's schools. For example, entrepreneurs like Wendy Kopp founded Teach for America as a way to provide non-traditional teachers to schools in urban and rural areas and transform the leadership influencing educational policy in the future. The numbers of students attending charter schools like KIPP, which are independently-managed public schools, now total approximately 4% of all public school students. More recently, a new group of entrepreneurs, such as Sal Khan of Khan Academy are looking to integrate technology to personalize learning and improve outcomes. Education has become an increasingly active area for social venture activity attracting entrepreneurs and funding.

This course explores how entrepreneurs are applying business practices and technology innovations to transform K-12 education to lead to higher performance. The course material looks at ways in which entrepreneurs are attempting to transform the future by:

1) introducing technology and other innovative approaches to reimagine the classroom and school model.

2) applying market and business principles such as choices for customers to force change on the public system and lead to higher performance.

Course Content

The course introduces you to the current context, challenges, and opportunities in U.S. public education, the critical elements for analyzing the potential effectiveness of technological innovations and entrepreneurial social ventures in education, and methods to identify and evaluate entrepreneurial opportunities in U.S. public education. The design of ETIE takes a general management approach and is organized into four modules:

Module I: Understanding the Public Education Sector: The module sets the context of urban public schooling in the U.S. by presenting the key underlying problems/opportunities in the public education sector.

Module II: Applying Market Principles: This module examines the effectiveness applying market principles such as parental choice and upstream/downstream investment decisions.

Module III: Creating and Scaling New School Models: This module explores the launching of new models of schools, and the challenges of replicating/scaling effective school models. Cases include in-district and charter school start-ups, as well as the role of private investment in nonprofit and for-profit school operators.

Module IV: Technology Innovations: This module introduces technology-based innovations that attempt to address several challenges seen throughout the term such as personalized learning, making better use of scarce resources of time and personnel, and seeking ways to replicate cost-effective models of education.

The course will be case-based. Many case protagonists will be attending when their case is taught.