“Design thinking” featured at June iiE Gathering

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    Collaborative “Wonder Book” activity. (Jeff Kupperman)

“Spontaneous.” “Open-minded.” “Continue to step out of your comfort zone.” “Keep trying and failing–you’ll keep learning!” These were some of the phrases that came to mind for Shelly Grunsted, assistant professor of legal studies at the University of Oklahoma, after attending the Institute for Innovation in Education (iiE) Ann Arbor Gathering this past June at the Duderstadt Center. Participants from as far away as British Columbia, Oregon, and Florida, joined UM-Flint and UM-Ann Arbor faculty, graduate students, and staff for three days of workshops, competitive storytelling, unconferencing, and other activities designed to spark ideas and create connections across institutions and disciplines.

The last day of the Gathering was dedicated to a full day workshop where attendees applied design thinking to their own projects, using a specially designed set of iiE Design Mindset CARDS as a framework. The cards, featuring prompts, questions, and suggestions for project teams through six phases of the design process, were used by seven different teams as they worked on topics ranging from social and emotional learning to inter-faith solidarity. A total of about 70 people attended activities over the three days.

“We want to break down institutional and professional barriers.”

Pagan Poggione, iiE co-founder

At the Gathering “we want to break down institutional and professional barriers – in other words, get people together who have a lot of common goals but ordinarily wouldn’t have a chance to meet, have them get to know each other a bit, and plan out how to work together,” said Pagan Poggione, who co-founded the iiE together with UM-Flint associate professor Jeff Kupperman. Poggione, who lives in British Columbia, collaborates remotely with Kupperman and others to plan Gatherings and carry out other iiE initiatives.

The iiE’s goal is to help cultivate creativity and engaging learning experiences in all kinds of settings, including higher education, P-12 schools, informal learning environments, and the private sector. They do so through tools like the Design Mindset CARDS, through public events like this past June’s Gathering, through workshops and activities for organizations of all types, and through design of innovative technologies, programs, and activities. This June’s Gathering was the sixth held in Michigan; previous iiE Gatherings have been held in Geneva, Switzerland; Durban, South Africa; Prague, Czech Republic; Vancouver Island, Canada, and the Florida Keys. The next iiE Gathering will be in Portland, OR, October 28-29.

Grunsted, who has been pursuing an Educational Technology master’s degree online through UM-Flint on top of her faculty responsibilities, summed up the Gathering this way: “Even though many of these professionals might teach in K-12 or are in a different segment of education than I am, everyone was able to collaborate and bring ideas to the table no matter what we were doing.”

About the iiE
The Institute for Innovation in Education (iiE) is an incubator of ideas, projects, and partnerships at the intersection of technology and learning, based at the University of Michigan and driven by the expertise of faculty, graduate students, educators of all kinds, and partner organizations from all over the globe. Since 2012 the iiE has played a unique role in the education world by incubating projects and partnerships that bring together different kinds of institutions and professional areas. It builds on over three decades of research and development at the forefront of interactive learning with technology. For more information see http://iie.institute.
Jeff Kupperman, UM-Flint School of Education and Human Services
Author: Jeff Kupperman, UM-Flint School of Education and Human Services

Jeff is an associate professor at UM-Flint who specializes in educational technology and the founding co-director of the Institute for Innovation in Education (iiE). You can reach him at jkupp@umflint.edu.