Design Sprint 2016

This will change my life” – comment from students attending the Summer of Student Innovation 2016 design sprint. Two students separately said this to me but I am sure many others feel the same.

At my age I can point to several experiences that have changed my life, not all positive, however it is especially pleasing to see that this can be so influential in the lives of students who participate not just in the Jisc Summer of Student Innovation but also in the hundreds hackathons, enterprise and innovation competitions offered each year..

So what makes the design sprint such an amazing experience?

Obviously it is the 15 teams who participated, as well as the mentors and experts who facilitated and supported the team. See Scott Hibberson’s blog post account of his experience as a mentor. However after four years of running these events I think it is also the structure of the design sprint we started using last year designed for us by LiveWorks based on the google 5-day design sprint.

The design sprint is a four day residential camp where teams work collaboratively on their projects submitted to the student ideas competition.

Day 1: Understand your idea. Teams unpack the idea, explore the boundaries through competitor and market analysis, SWOTs and identifying users. The day is about opening up the options and looking outside the box a bit more.

ARUNI - activity outputs from the design sprint

ARUNI – activity outputs from the design sprint

Teams produce a number of outputs as a part of the process which requires a large supply of paper, post-its, bluetack and marker pens. Before someone shouts “I thought this was about technology, why are you using paper” I will explain. The rationale behind the design sprint is to explore, build and test simple designs and prototypes. It saves time and money, imagine the waste involved in developing a product to find it is not what users want. Secondly for us the paper on days 1&2 can be visually displayed as seen here.

Day 2: Decide and develop the idea. Focus is what becomes key on day 2, teams need to decide what is important to their product. They do this by exploring the user journeys to, through and from the product. Developing user stories to look at different types of people who make want to use the products. Finally, user testing, teams will test out their solutions and products with other participants, mentors and experts to get feedback. We use a speed dating approach so teams can get a range of answers to the same questions.

Check Ideas Planning

Check Ideas Planning

Day 3: Prototype and test. Teams will now start to build some wire frame design of the products. These can be paper or screen based prototypes of the product they are developing. User testing continues and teams.

Shout Out Yeovil College Lego

Shout Out Yeovil College Lego

This year we introduced a new activity using Lego “Serious learning”. The session was first thing on day 3 and I feel the timing was perfect, it helped the teams step back from their idea and look at it from a different perspective. It is all the process as much as the product but here are some of the outputs. I should also add the mentors participated and seemed to get significant benefits from this activity.

Day 4: Test and practice pitch. Each team prepares a pitch for the last day. They are told to state the problem, share the solution and say what the benefits are for identified users.  Teams will also have to pitch at the end of August which is when Jisc decides which ideas it will look to develop or support in 2016-17.

After four years of student innovation competitions we can definitely say it is a life changing experience for all the students who participate. We have even seen some successful products from previous winners and Jisc is currently working with Call for Participants, Unitu and used by 1000s of students and several institutions. We have also produced four apps from last year, the SALT- Student Academic Literacy Tool was launched in the Apple app store last week.

What next?

The summer of student innovation changes every year and next year will be no exception. We are looking for a more sustainable and scalable model. To engage more with institutions as well as more students. Link up with more enterprise hubs following our successful collaboration with Emerge Education, EdTechFutures and The House London in this year’s start-up programme.

So look out for this year’s winners, I will say more about the ones we decide to support further at the end of August.

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