When COVID-19 started causing many activities to be cancelled or changed to being virtual, I was not sure if I was going to be able to hold our in-person summer youth entrepreneur camp. Entrepreneurship is one of those things that you learn best by doing. As it got closer, the restrictions in our area did lessen but many people were not comfortable with going out in public. So, I put together a survey for the parents and there were several that were not comfortable with allowing their children to attend an in-person camp. I decided that a virtual youth entrepreneur camp live via Zoom would work best. Unfortunately, I still had 6 kids cancel since their parents said they were ‘zoomed’ out (even though I promised it would be fun and interactive – after all, I am always up for a challenge)! In the end, we had 9 kids participate which I consider a success (and the parent and kid feedback was great too 😊).
To help other teachers, camp directors and coordinators who are dealing with a similar situation, I put together the top 10 things I learned from creating, running and teaching the Eseedling Virtual Youth Entrepreneur Camp Live via Zoom.
- You must be even more organized than teaching in a physical environment. Since the kids need all the materials, handouts and supplies before the camp begins – you need to have them organized and ready to go for the parents to pick them (or ship them out) so the kids have what they need for the entire virtual youth entrepreneur camp. In a physical environment, when you see the kids each day, you just have to make sure they have what they need for day 1 (as you can always print things out or stop and get supplies for the next day). Also, in a classroom, you have the supplies such as extra paper, markers, scissors, and glue so you don’t have to make sure the students have them ahead of time.
“Anyone can learn to teach a virtually via Zoom – no matter what your age!”
- Anyone can learn how to teach on Zoom (or with a virtual tool). If I can learn how to teach virtually, anyone can (after all, I’m in my 50’s😊). I started out by attending a few webinars. First, they focused on presenting and running meetings on Zoom (check out Mike Domitrz video on YouTube. Then they were about implementing interactive activities via Zoom (Michelle Cumming’s videos from Training Wheels) and then teaching entrepreneurship on Zoom (check out Teaching Entrepreneurship.org). Then I adapted some of their activities into a webinar for my youth entrepreneurship curriculum customers and advocates so I could help them with teaching youth entrepreneurship in virtual environment. They always say the best way to learn is to teach so, I set a date for the webinar (giving myself a deadline) and presented a live webinar to help them out. Here is a link to the replay.
- You can adapt almost any activity to a virtual environment. The next task was adapting the activities I taught in a live environment to a virtual one. This is probably the thing I was most anxious about. I have been teaching these activities in person for over 10 years so teaching them in a virtual environment took some learning and strategy. The Biz Ops Game was probably the most challenging. The game which is usually played by teams running their own paper airplane companies. The teams design, make and sell their paper airplanes to the customer (by flying them on a duct tape runway). They track expenses and sales and the team with the most profit wins. I converted it to each student being their own bootstrapping entrepreneur running a helicopter company. I ended up changing it to helicopters so I could see them fly them from their “Zoom room”. I know the kids enjoyed it since they wanted to go to their lunch break late and also asked when they could play the game again. If you can convert a game such as this to virtual, you can convert pretty much any activity.
- Kids work Faster online than in person. I had to adjust the schedule a couple of times as we went since it did not take the kids as long to complete an activity. If I had to guess why this happened, it would be they have less distractions when there are not other people and things happening in their ‘Zoom Room’. They pretty much completed their work in about ¾ of the time.
I was shocked to hear that kids in our area were only in online school for 2 hours each week!
- Kids have only been online for school 2 hours per week for the last 12 weeks. I noticed that the kids would start getting tired and a little overloaded by 2:00pm (we started at 9am and had a morning short break and a break for lunch). Since it was the week after the school semester was completed, I was a little puzzled of why they would be so tired. Then one of the students said they were only online for 2 hours a week with their teacher since March 17. Since my kids are grown, I had no clue! Yikes, no wonder parents are having such a hard time with their kids at home! They said they would go online with their teacher for 1 hour on Monday and then 1 hour on Wednesday. They would get their work and then would have to do it pretty much on their own (with their parents help). I learned that is probably a little too long to be online even when it is interactive. I am going to run another virtual youth entrepreneur camp (per parent requests) in July, but it will only be for half days with a 15-minute break in the middle.
- Kids need many moving and interactive activities to keep them engaged. I had many activities built into the curriculum such as polling, virtual beach ball, networking bingo, 6 count, branding quizzes, vision boards, elevator pitches, guest speakers and the ultimate entrepreneur. Even though I had a lot of activities, it is always good to have some that you can use anytime you see the kids are fading a bit. 6 Count that I learned from one of Michelle Cumming’s webinars was a favorite for the students. You will want to make sure you practice with the opposite arms since you are facing the kids. They like it because it gets them moving and they want to become better than the teacher. I like it because it gets their brain neurons going and peps them up!
- Some kids know Zoom features and some don’t. Some of the kids are very tech savvy and have been on Zoom a lot so they will know how to use the features such as annotate. This feature can be used when you share a screen and not only has writing, text, and a stamping feature but it has an erase feature. You may be wondering what is happening to your slides right in front of you as things disappear! No worries, you can turn this feature off for the students 😊. For those who don’t know the features well (such as annotate and chat), it’s important to take some time and walk through those features with the students and practice so they are comfortable when you do want to use them.
- Kids love to use the chat. Chat is great for kids to ask questions, but it can also be used for contributing to a discussion (especially for the shyer kids). We also it used as a communication tool for parts of the Biz Ops Game. Just like in a physical environment, the better the kids get to know each other, the more they chat. One thing I learned is something called “Chat Storms” which the kids love. You ask them a question and then tell them to put it in the chat but don’t hit enter until you count down 3-2-1 go. Then all the chats come in like a storm. This also helps from kids seeing what their friends write so they come up with their own idea. Oh, and yes, you can turn the chat off if it gets out of hand!
- The normal ‘get your attention’ methods that make sounds don’t work in a virtual environment. One thing I usually use in the classroom to get the kids attention when they start talking or lose attention is a chime or clapping a rhythm they repeat. Those did not seem to work in our virtual youth entrepreneur camp. So, I tried the time out signal and it worked. I then told them that if I needed them to focus back on me, that I would do the time out symbol and that did the trick.
“You can still have a lot of fun and the kids can learn a lot during a virtual youth entrepreneur camp!”
- You can still have a lot of fun and learn a lot at a virtual youth entrepreneur camp. The biggest learning of all was that it was quite enjoyable working the kids even in a virtual environment. They learned to start their own businesses. They presented their business ideas, ran the Biz Ops Game, gave their elevator pitches, and even presented their own vision boards. The feedback I received from the parents is that their kids really enjoyed the experience and they were happy that their kids were learning something valuable and that they did not have to help teach it to them.
I’m sure there was much more that I learned from this virtual teaching experience but for now I hope the things I learned can help you in some way as you deal with this ‘new normal’ of teaching in a virtual environment.
Click here to watch the Day 1 Recap (day 2-5 coming soon) of the Eseedling Virtual Youth Entrepreneur Camp we ran in June at the Julie Ann Wood You Tube Channel. If you are interested in finding out more about our next virtual camp coming up in July or any of the Eseedling youth entrepreneurship curriculum you can visit our website at: https://eseedling.com/youth-entrepreneur-camp/