Had to reply to this. I agree with your assessment that Heinlein's novels are not the greatest (Although I thought "Time Enough for Love" had some interesting ideas), and I was a hardcore Heinlein fanboi for a while. But his short stories are amazing. "By His Bootstraps" is one of the coolest time travel stories ever. "The Man Who Sold the Moon" is brilliant. And "Life-line" and "Let There Be Light," his first two published stories, are really good descriptions of the conflict between transformative technologies and entrenched interests, which have arguably more relevance today than when they were first written (c.f. the automobile or music industries). Because the OP asked for ideas of short stories as well as novels, and you can't include novels by everyone, by all means, feature one or two of Heinlein's short stories. Because any sci-fi/fantasy class that "avoid[s] Heinlein" is like a Classical Music class that omits Beethoven.