Bringing Social Enterprise to a Higher Education Classes

By | May 6, 2013

TEDPowerThe Power of Ted in the Classroom and Beyond

Guest post from Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Zagreb School of Economics and Management,

The series of TED and TED related events are a great tool for the classroom.  In less than 20 minutes, each video posted on the site affords a students’ a way to connect to “ideas worth spreading”.  Since many themes on Ted meet at the interface of the world’s greatest problems with today and tomorrow’s most innovative minds, they offer a glimpse into emerging social enterprises at various stages of developments.

I first started to incorporate TED talks into the classroom while on a visiting professor assignment at Rouen Business School in France (1 of 100 ZSEM partner schools) in May 2010.  The class was organized for 28 Master’s in Global Management students and the course offering was titled Entrepreneurship and Innovation.  The assignment was simple but the results were nothing short of amazing.  After establishing a base for understanding what is innovative and some inspirational examples of entrepreneurs pursuing multiple definitions of profit (money, mission, and mother earth), we did a brainstorming session to decide challenges facing the world today they felt needed the most urgent attention.  We clustered the issues into categories and then groups of students were assigned to find talks that were addressing those areas.  The next day each student would have 15 minutes to make a presentation that would retell at TED talk of their choice and they could use a short excerpt from the original video.  Due to the number of students in the class it ended up being a marathon day.  The classroom was filled with laughter and tears from 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon.  It has to be one of the most memorable days of my teaching career.

I can share with you some of the favorites of that day…

Theme Student Title
Environment Najoua Gueddari The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind


Healthcare LIU Juan & LUO Wanrong The Warm Embrace


Children Li Yang Five dangerous things you should let your children do



Inspired by the success of this first experiment with putting students in the driver’s seat to co-construct course content, I have modified and adapted the use of TED resources on take-home exams for undergraduates, case studies for master’s students, and post-watch-comment scenarios for life-long learners to name a few variations.  The Ted series has so inspired me as a teacher but also the alumni of the course I teach.  One such student is Sofia Sharkova, who now works for Google in Poland.  Sofia has gone on to not only attend many live TED events around the world, but has been in an instrument of change by organizing live events herself.  She continues by not only sharing worthy ideas but also creating platforms that inspire youth and recognize budding social entrepreneurs in the making.

If you have used or other sites to stimulate social entrepreneurship in higher education please leave a comment. Or if you would like more information from Tina about this, post your question below: