Entrepreneurship is considered the best approach to achieving economic growth, which has led to rapid development in entrepreneurship education. The growing number of students enrolled in entrepreneurship programs stresses the capacity of lecture theatres and teachers [1
]. Higher education institutions have been impelled to create courses and environments in the field of entrepreneurship education [2
]. The teachers are also being challenged to design effective teaching strategies and plan meaningful activities for these students [4
]. Entrepreneurship education has improved regarding teaching models, learning theories and learning environments [5
]. However, the literature is controversy as to the impact of entrepreneurship education on students’ entrepreneurial intentions [2
]. The following research question was asked: “How can teachers enhance students’ willingness and interest to learn entrepreneurship?”
Venkatesh, Shaw, Sykes, Wamba and Macharia [7
] suggested that entrepreneurial activities and profits are influenced by the use of information and communication technology (ICT). Recently, it has gained popularity among government, enterprises and education institutions [11
]. ICT can create opportunities for governments to improve efficiency and strengthen their management and operations [18
]. Many studies have confirmed that ICT increases procedural efficiency, customer service quality and reduces costs as well as positively influencing corporate performance, such as productivity, profit, market value and market share [12
ICT also could benefit teachers, promote learning and improve learning outcomes, particular at the elementary and high school levels [13
]. Although higher education is where new knowledge is supposed to be created and acquired, it rarely is successfully applied to teaching activities [20
]. Furthermore, higher education classes are more likely than elementary or high school classes to be large, which suggests relatively lower quality teacher-student interaction and relatively more common teacher-centered learning.
The common course formats and key features of business courses include business plan (BP) development and pitch competitions [6
]. BPs usually are employed to raise capital and plan for future developments. Recently, the idea of “crowdfunding” has rapidly spread around the world. The idea is to give individual investors opportunities to apply a relatively small amount of capital to fund new or expanding businesses [21
]. If you were to ask investors whether the crowdfunding platform or the fundraising team was more important, many of them would tell you that the key is to display a video [22
PowToon is a cloud-based ICT tool that hat allows teachers and students to visualize business idea and create animated presentations [23
]. PowToon has been seen as an interesting and attractive tool for supporting teaching-learning activities [24
]. The major difference between PowToon and PowerPoint was the presentation style (dynamic vs. static) used in rocket pitch rather than technologies themselves. It would promote students’ engagement during learning activities [25
]. Wu, Pan and Yuan [16
] also indicated that publishing and content creating tools would likely enable students to interactively participate in their education through new forms of technology dependent learning. People learn best by actively constructing their own understanding is a key tenet of constructivist model. In order to construct new knowledge and understanding from authentic experience, learners are presented with opportunities to build on prior knowledge and understanding [26
Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate PowToon is an effective tool for business plan presentation. Although there are numerous video production techniques, this study focused on PowToon, which provides pre-designed templates to quickly create animated explainer videos. It could be widely used in learning as tools for such outcomes as the visualization of ideas, crowdfunding, advertisement and employee training [23
]. Teachers also tend to use emerging technologies as new and/or improved tools to enhance the effectiveness of their teaching [27
When the tools meet the teaching objectives, and, “if students feel that they must use these business tools to succeed in a competition,” they will use them [28
]. Application of ICT in entrepreneurship education has just begun to receive scholarly attention [29
]. The study selected entrepreneurship education to observe the following three considerations in detail. First, students might be helped because they can obtain free online resources for entrepreneurial activities. Second, teachers could develop learning activities to offer relatively more advanced skills to students through practice [24
]. Third, to visualize the entrepreneurship idea, the learner need to know its main point and have full picture. Finally, previous studies have suggested that, from a policy perspective, entrepreneurship is essential for meeting economic and social goals [30
This study used multiple methods to explore whether PowToon is an effective tool for business plan presentation at a leading public university in Taiwan. In Study 1, the article employed a quasi-experiment design in an EMBA class setting and examined the effect by manipulating groups of pitch presentation styles and peer and self-investments of entrepreneurial opportunities. In Study 2, qualitative methodology was used to examine the tendencies of students to use PowToon in a MBA class setting in a follow-up semester.
3.1. Study 1 in EMBA Setting
The participants in the Study 1 were 21 EMBA students studying entrepreneurship management (12 males and 9 females) and employed by a variety of private and public institutions in Taiwan. These participants had at least seven years of fulltime work experience and were part-time students. The course was a two-credit, nine-week elective that met every other week for four class hours per week. The purpose of the course was to cultivate participants’ entrepreneurial spirit and skills. The course was designed to provide practical guidance by covering a range of entrepreneurial knowledge, including: (1) initial mental preparation, (2) innovation and transformation and (3) business launching. These issues included self-awareness, identifying opportunities, creative thinking, developing business models, understanding entrepreneurship laws, writing BPs and securing external funding.
3.1.2. Design and Procedures
Because all of the participants were in the same class and the animated film for final pitch competition was optional, it was not known whether they created animated explainer videos until the end of the semester. Therefore, it was not possible to randomly assign the participants into experimental and control groups. Instead, this study used a quasi-experimental design to determine whether using PowToon as a learning tool improved participant performance and attracted the attention of potential investors. The main learning activity was for the participants to develop BPs, which were subjected to three rounds of Rocket Pitch competition, supplemented by the introduction of PowToon. The research process and methodology are shown in Figure 1
Related events for research design were explained as follows: During the first week of the course, the instructor introduced the course content and explained the three rounds BP competition for the semester. The participants were suggested to use animation to present their BP ideas of the week nine but it was optional. During the second week, each participant entrepreneur gave a quick and concise presentation of his or her business ideas and key differentiating elements. The presentation was limited to one minute and a maximum of three slides. The other participants ranked the presentations (online) and the 11 proposals with the highest rankings entered the second round of the competition. Participants whose presentations were not selected were integrated into the successful teams. During the third week, PowToon was introduced and an animation demonstration was given as an example. In the sixth week, each group developed a complete proof-of-concept study to illustrate that the entrepreneurial ideas were feasible. After five-minute presentations, the eight best proposals were selected via online ranking and they moved on to the final competition. The participants not selected were redistributed into the remaining groups. The list of groups participating in the final competition was confirmed during week seven. In weeks seven and eight, the participants were reminded that they could use supplementary videos if no significant burden was created.
Peers performed all of the assessments and grading, such that members of the class ranked and assessed each other. This is a widely used and established teaching approach to writing, oral or audio-visual reports and other professional activities [41
]. This process is known to benefit learning. The peer assessment of this study was divided into two parts. The peer online assessment used the options of “average,” “not bad” and “awesome,” which is coded as Average = 1, not bad = 2 and awesome = 3. Voting was not required and a positive approach was taken. The first two rounds of the Rocket Pitch and the BP competition and video presentation at the end of the semester, used this scoring method.
People who develop entrepreneurial ideas might make biased assessments of their economic opportunities, which might distort investment decisions [42
]. To reduce this bias in the final competition, two conditions were added to the experimental design. In the “OWN” condition, each participant included his or her proposal in his or her investment considerations. Under the “OTH” condition, the participants’ personal BPs were not available for investment and these participants could consider only other groups’ proposals for investment. The study was designed so that one member of each group was assigned one of these conditions. For example, Group 4 had three members, each of which was given a random number. The member with the highest number was assigned to “OWN” and the member with the second highest number was assigned to “OTH.” The number assigned to the member with the third-highest random number was compared to those of the other groups’ participants with the third-highest random number and the participant with a highest number among them was assigned to “OWN.” Based on the above-described grouping and the number of times each proposal was assessed, each participant’s investment assessment portfolio was set at “six.” Similarly, every proposal was assigned a random number (which, therefore, differed for every participant). The proposals of the participants in the “OWN” category were included in the portfolio first, regardless of the random number assigned to the proposal. The five proposals with the next highest random numbers were included in the portfolio next.
Before the final competition began, every participant was given a prepared investment evaluation form and $
1000 in imitation cash (four $
100 bills, six $
50 bills and twenty $
20 bills) and the purpose of this step was explained to them (Figure 2
). Each group was given one minute to present its BP and the other participants ranked them. Next, the groups that had prepared videos presented them and the other participants assessed them. Then, each participant took the role of an investor and assessed the proposals listed on the prepared investment evaluation form. Each form contained six BPs. The participants were free to invest in as many BPs as they wanted to (up to six) by writing their investment amounts on the form until they had exhausted their $
1000. Finally, each participant investor paid these amounts to the participants who submitted the proposals (Figure 2
) using their cash. The actual amount of cash invested in each case might have differed from the amount listed on the investment evaluation forms. Every proposal was assessed 14 to 18 times.
The dependent variable, independent variables and control variables were summarized as following (Table 1
Dependent variable. Peer and self-investments was determined by the extent of the participants’ willingness to invest in business ideas and the size of their investments. This was a key dependent variable of the study, which ranged from $0 to $1000.
. The use of PowToon to visualize the business idea (PowToon) versus not using it (No-PowToon) was a key independent variable. The participants might have had strong tendencies to invest in their personal proposals during their assessments. To avoid this bias, the study followed Hooshangi and Loewenstein [42
] investment portfolio research design and classified the participant investors as “OWN” (their personal proposals were included in their investment considerations) or “OTH” (they could not invest in their personal proposals). As described above, the participants under the “OTH” condition could invest only in other participants’ business ideas.
To explain certain relevant factors in our context, the analysis included some control variables that might have been relevant to investing in entrepreneurial activities. “Gender” was included because female investors tend to be more proactive than male investors regarding investing behaviors [43
]. “Portfolio” was included because, among the conditions of the investment portfolio, peer investments were limited to six business ideas. The ratio was used to identify the number of ideas in which each participant invested. For example, the portfolio value of a participant who invested in two of the six ideas was 0.33 and the remaining four ideas had a portfolio value of zero.
3.2. Study 2 in MBA Setting
The second study reported in this article used a qualitative methodology to explore the tendencies enabled by PowToon. The participants were 24 full-time MBA students studying entrepreneurship management. This eighteen-week, three-credit graduate level course was taught by the same instructor. The procedure was the same as in Study 1, except that the entrepreneurial teams seek funding for their business ventures was by delivering one from oral, filmed or animated video presentation (or a combination of these).
After two rounds of rocket pitches, seven entrepreneurial proposals were selected to enter the final competition. Two weeks before the final competition, the instructors reminded groups that they could deliver their ideas either orally or through videos or animations. The students were also suggested to provide individual reflective learning report at the end of the semester. The main open-ended questions are: 1. What did you enjoy most about the course? 2. What did you like least about the course?
BP development plays an important role in the entrepreneurial activities and education. It can be used to fundraise. Bruton, Khavul, Siegel and Wright [21
] indicated that the use of videos to present entrepreneurial ideas will increase the likelihood of successful fundraising. PowToon is an ICT tool for animated video that is easy to learn and to use in an environment that is key to learning and decisions. This study incorporated PowToon into a course and created an environment for participants by explaining to them how to use the software. Active entrepreneurial participants were more willing to invest their time into learning how to use the optional animation software and they tried to visually externalize their entrepreneurial ideas. They created environments in which they could raise relatively greater capital.
The first contribution of this paper is to challenge the concept on self-biases evaluations of the economic potential of their own business ideas. After three rounds of rocket pitches, it can provide the participants with a better understanding of advantages and disadvantages of their business plans. The second contribution is that higher education emphasizes the use of oral presentations and this study provides a new option as a reference for teachers. The results of this study are as follows.
First, a participant’s assessments of the business ideas were not significantly influenced by the presence of his or her personal proposal in an investment portfolio. This result is inconsistent with Hooshangi and Loewenstein [42
], who argued that people invest more in their own than in others’ proposals. The major reasons for this inconsistency are: (1) participants had relatively deep understandings of these business concepts because the proposals had been through a three-round competition and (2) face-to-face communication influences decisions through body language, facial expressions and voice projection as well as words. An entrepreneur’s preparedness and passion displayed in his or her BP presentation helped to convince participants to invest [46
Second, video presentations positively influenced investments and attracted the participant investors’ attention. The groups that prepared animated videos attracted more investment than the groups that did not prepare animated videos. Mollick [22
] pointed out the power of video in crowdfunding and its contribution to successful fundraising. Shi and Guan [47
] also suggested that goals and sponsorships are positively associated with promising outcomes, whereas images and updates are ineffective, although incorporating a video is helpful for obtaining investments. Developed videos which helps entrepreneurial team to better explain their business ideas to investors in a well-thought out way [48
]. Entrepreneurs also ensure accurate venture success are certainly appealing to investors. Investor need to feel more confident about the business idea in which they make financial commitments.
Third, the participants of the PowToon group generally invested more money in their personal than in others’ business ideas. After this classification, the results were consistent only with Hooshangi and Loewenstein [42
], who argued that people predict that others’ ideas are inferior to their personal ideas because people were taking pains and, therefore, tend to overestimate their relative value. Entrepreneurs who provide investors with accurate projections of venture success are certainly appealing to investors.
Fourth, displaying animation in the final competition evolved from being an extra work into an option in Study 2. Surprisingly, participants were very willing to use animations to demonstrate their ideas. This observation was consistent with the results of Sergeant and MacDonald [38
] and Makarius [24
]. Video presentations can integrate facts, backgrounds and entertainment to effectively deliver business ideas and persuade investors [38
]. Corbett, et al. [49
] suggested that the benefit of producing videos in marketing courses is that it offers a creative way to strengthen students’ understanding of and ability to apply sales processes.
5.1. Instructional Implications
The findings may have some impact on teachers of different levels, as they are eager to have students communicate ideas and concepts in innovative ways. First, students demonstrated an ability to use PowToon to visualize ideas as well as describe the products and express content more concisely and vividly. PowToon’s emphasis on innovation may inspire participants to transform their carefully written scripts into animations to give investors a different experience. By producing compelling animations, students are able to recount more attractive stories of new products as compared to traditional presentations [39
]. Second, applying ICT tools to help students build their own learning approach and encourage collaboration with others enables students to discover multiple perspectives on a particular issue [25
]. Finally, the acceptance of high-level learning activities positively affects the students’ willingness to use ICT tools [30
]. Some participants also stated in their reflection reports that tools that can be implemented would be helpful for their future.
5.2. Research Implications
This study adopted a quasi-experimental design combining teaching and research. During the process, we did not let participants know that research data was being collected, in order to avoid the Hawthorne effect. In Study 1, the researchers encouraged students on several occasions to develop animations in addition to their presentations. A rigorous experimental design was adopted to avoid the bias of self-investment. In Study 2, we allowed participants to freely choose tools for their presentations. The results of the experiment showed that students were very willing to use animated presentations and the groups that produced animations achieved better grades. These two designs provide researchers with different perspectives.
5.3. Limitations and Future Study
One of the limitations of this study is its small sample size of 21 participants. The number of entrepreneurial proposals could not be expanded because only the best ones were selected in the competitive process. There also was the limitation of the class size and the available human resources, which meant that an experimental control group was impossible. To manipulate the treatment, we were limited to encouraging the participants to learn the animation software. Overall, this study offers a snapshot of the value of using ICT tools in entrepreneurship education. Future examination and analysis should be conducted by dividing participants into two classes.