Associated Projects

Big Ideas Fest 2014 — Innovating around education

Technolibrarian Carolyn Foote shares her experience and her takeaways from ISKME's Big Ideas Fest.  

Big Ideas Fest is a unique conference.   When I first saw tweets about it, even the name intrigued me.   Who wouldn’t want to talk about the big ideas?

More workshop than conference, actually, it allows attendees to become artists, idea builders, and potentially, innovators.   The conference provides a mixed format to spur innovation and team building — from speakers to an artist in residence to improv — all combining to help further the agenda, which is learning to use Design Thinking to address “big ideas” in education.

From arriving the first night when we created luminarias of our hopes for education with the conference’s artist in residence, to spending two days working on design challenges, to closing with a hula-hooping keynote, the conference tapped into the potential of community.

Big Ideas Fest takes place in the beautiful Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton which is set away from the town itself.  Perhaps that aids in community building since many attendees stay there the entire three days.     There are fireside chats, keynotes, Rapid Fire talks, walks at sunset, Fit Bit challenges, and things like hula hooping practice interwoven into the schedule.

My Takeaways

  • Crafting an experience like this means attention to detail, feeling, and vision.
  • Professional development that builds a spirit of generosity creates an environment more conducive to openness.
  • Buttonology is cool.
  • Having an “artist in residence” for a conference is also cool.
  • Improv opens up a lot of energy in participants and is refreshing on a long PD/conference day.
  • We should “make our partners feel brilliant.”
  • The design thinking/action collab process is a very effective way to move teams through brainstorming solutions.


Publication Date: 
February 16, 2015