Innovation Sprint Workshop: Learn the methodology to use innovation as a problem-solving engine

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

Innovation is needed when trying to solve a problem. This session aims to foster innovative thinking through the example of a real-world innovative solution, and the session participants creating their own innovative strategy during a collaborative engagement activity. 


Gina Fabbro has been at Western Governors University since March 2015. She is currently a Senior Project Coordinator in Vendor Relations, housed under the Evaluation and Records department. Her background is in International Education, specializing in Higher Education.

Extended Abstract


Current trends in technology and connectivity have created a world that is ever-changing and online education needs to keep up with an ever-developing market. Areas such as student support, measure of competency, and utilization of new technologies are constantly being looked at and reworked in order to not stagnate. As institutions or departments grow, it is necessary to find new ways to quickly pivot to these needs. Innovation is a key player in how organizations can accommodate these changes; in essence, online education needs to remain innovative in order to remain relevant.

Is innovation a part of your problem-solving strategy? How can you use innovation to solve a problem? An organization that fosters innovation can reap benefits in predicting or fulfilling needs. However, it can also be difficult to look at a problem and see a pathway that works toward a solution. One tool that online educators can use is a charter that helps generate innovative thinking as the starting point toward new solutions.

This session will show builds upon an example of a real-world project that found a solution through the fostering of innovation, and ultimately ask participants to collectively build an innovation project charter to use in their own institutions.

The project example comes from a custom-built feature that allows students to take unscheduled breaks during an exam session. Taking a break sounds simple enough at the forefront, but there was a fine balance to strike between maintaining a positive student experience during the exam, and ensuring that exam security was not compromised. Over the course of three years, multiple stakeholder groups from the organization were involved to help brainstorm and vet the solution that would best fit with the organizational goals and impact on students. As nothing of this nature had been created before, the various stakeholder groups had to look at how existing tools could be modified or created to solve the problem. This is where innovative thinking needed to be fostered not just at the beginning of the project, but throughout its very lifecycle.

Interactivity Strategy:

Participants will be asked to take part in two separate engagement activities. The first will get everyone warmed up and thinking about innovation by separating participants into smaller groups and asking them to re-think an everyday object. Afterwards, the process of each group will be broken down and examined for what went well and what did not. This will serve as a basis for the larger activity at the end of the session, which will be an innovation sprint that has the audience create their own innovation project charter that they can utilize at their home institutions. The project charter will be a collaborative effort from the group, and serve as a template for incorporating innovation into problem solving.



Participants should walk away from the session with a better understanding of how creating a framework around innovative thinking can help solve problems. Participants will also go through the process of creating their own innovation project charter.


Session Agenda:


Warm-up Activity

Case Study: Real-Life Example of Innovative Project

Innovation Sprint and Project Charter Creation