Thursday, December 12, 2013

#bif2013 Big Ideas Fest 2013: Creativity lab on steroids

Probably the best professional conference I've ever attended (certainly the best in the field of education), Big Ideas Fest  (#bif2013) 2013 at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, CA, December 4-7, combined the slow (traditional education systems) with the fast (accelerating innovation inspired by outsiders to education).

This entry will provide an overview for my experiences at the conference  #bif2013. Over the next few days I will file additional pieces that drill down on specific issues and presentations that were particularly compelling.

What is most compelling to me about this conference (apart from the incredible level of professionalism and organization that is evident behind the scenes to make everything go smoothly, is the rapid prototyping process that is at the heart of the "Action Collab" groups.

To take a group of conferees through an ideation process by which they are quickly trained to suspend judgment, act with trust as a team, and develop solutions to some of the most difficult education challenges of our time is quite remarkable. Key to making this possible is the conference format, which allows conferees to convene back into plenary sessions to hear from high level education pioneers and reformers who are making a huge impact in the market right now and hear how they got there.

This inspiration really helped us as we returned to work together in our smaller teams as we tried to adapt the systems, solutions and strategies we had heard into our own rapid prototyping process.

There were times when I felt my brain was being tied in a knot, and the room was close with everyone working collaboratively to solve the design challenge. In fact, the concentration level was so intense, I lost a personal belonging each day of the conference! Luckily, I managed to recover everything.

Everything, that is, except the way I think about education.

Big Ideas Fest is a production of ISKME, the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education. To learn more about their amazing resources, visit