Kentucky Innovation Summit 2011

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  • Professional Development

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Ever thought of having 35 strangers solve your toughest challenges?  Ed McKinney, principal at Danville High School, has. On November 30, 2011, Ed, along with students, administrators and board members from Danville School District, bared their soul to a room full of strangers at the Lexington Center and asked for advice.

The challenge? From the school’s perspective it was as follows: “How might we, as a high school, allow all our students to design their own week of learning, called Intersession,  and still maintain a high academic focus in what they choose to do?”

The strangers? They were those who registered for the dLab’s kickoff workshop, “Design Thinking: Tools and Techniques to Lead Innovation and Creativity in Your Organization.” Professor John Nash, of the University of Kentucky, and director of the dLab, along with Dan Gilbert, of Learning Innovations, Inc., led the participants through a process in the morning by which they learned the tenets of human-centered design and then applied those lessons as consultant designers for Danville in the afternoon.

The morning kicked off with the paper tower exercise, in which teams are given a stack of newspapers and a roll of masking tape. The rules are simple. Each team has 10 minutes to build the tallest tower possible using only newspaper and tape. The tower that is tallest and can stand for 30 seconds wins.

As the morning progressed the group learned how to conduct an empathetic need-finding interview, how to define the problem a person is facing, brainstorm solutions to the problem, and develop rapid prototype solutions for their user. In the end, Danville High School left with nine prototype solutions on how best to structure their Intersession.