On Tuesday night, C&E students jumped on a bus, scarfed some Chipotle burritos for brain energy, and headed downtown to Convercent to join the Competitive Idea Lab event– a 2-hour competition to create the most innovative, feasible, and delightful learning product. There were 64 participants consisting of mixed age teams ranging from 6 to 50 years old.
Design thinking was the foundation of the process and Jim Stephens and Sarabeth Berk acted as lead facilitators. As each team of six or seven people formed, they became businesses and collaborators. Participants began with ideation, making lists of learning products: backpacks, calculators, pencils, lockers, etc. Then they individually reflected on the characteristics that made one of those products innovative, feasible, or delightful. Afterwards, participants shared their thoughts and found common themes, eventually voting on the qualities that were the best or most valuable, in their opinion. From here, teams began sketching what their new product might be, combining the best qualities from their post-it notes to create new associations.
Constructive chaos ensued as prototyping commenced. Cardboard, Makedos, pipecleaners, colored duct tape, markers, and other simple tools were provided so that everyone could build an example of their product. By 7:30pm, teams stopped construction and gave 2-minute pitches to the entire group, and more importantly, to the judges. Ten new learning products were developed. Most of the ideas included technology such as desks that had virtual tabletops with intuitive, innovative, customizable user interfaces, and sophisticated tablet style books/notebooks that helped you stay organized with class, homework, and addressed learning styles and disabilities. There was a pair of virtual glasses and gloves that let you be in other environments while learning and studying, and a re-designed locker that had digital additions such as a weather monitor and rotating internal compartment.
Students gave it two thumbs up! It was a fast two hours, but so worth it.