PitchLX: Breeding Innovation through Competition

Concurrent Session 6

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Brief Abstract

One key to startup/business success is the ability to effectively pitch a new idea, product, or service to potential stakeholders. Shouldn’t educational institutions incorporate a similar competitive landscape to breed innovative thinking?  Prospective Innovations in Teaching and Learning Experiences (PitchLX), represents a solution with the potential to do just that.


Taylor Kendal is an educator, writer, designer, improviser, community developer, techno-philosopher and the Chief Program Officer at Learning Economy. His work with the U.S. Dept. of Education, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Library of Congress, MSU Denver, and CU Denver has led him to a lifelong love for education, innovation, design, and the cultivation of decentralized, future-focused networks. He holds an MA in Information Learning Technologies from CU Denver and has 20 years of experience in project/event management, digital/social strategy, instructional/LX design, culture-crafting, improvising, and systems-level hacking of post-secondary education. Taylor is currently focused on Web 3.0, digital ethics, bridging cultures of entrepreneurship and education, infusing agility and intellectual honesty into bureaucracy, learning from/traveling to distant lands (virtually and physically), exploring the future of education on blockchains, and occasionally writing to help make sense of it all. taykendesign.com | @taykendesign | taylor@learningeconomy.io
Dr. Michael A. Erskine is a graduate of the Computer Science and Information Systems PhD program at the University of Colorado Denver. He received his M.S. in information systems from the University of Colorado Denver and his B.S. in computer information systems from Metropolitan State University of Denver. His work has been presented at the Americas Conference on Information Systems and the International Conference on Information Resources Management as well as published in Axioms.

Extended Abstract

Phase I: Pitch LX

Breeding innovation within higher education doesn’t always come easy, but we think MSU Denver’s PitchLX initiative could represent a hopeful solution. Open to all higher education personnel (faculty, staff, administrators, students, etc.), and driven by a live pitch-off event, PitchLX brings together 7-10 select participants to deliver two-minute pitches for existing or theorized innovative ideas which have the potential to significantly shape the future of teaching and learning with technology in higher education (moonshots welcome). Following each pitch, a panel of expert judges conduct a live Q&A/critique, and award points based on feasibilitycreativity, sound pedagogy, and overall delivery. Prizes are awarded, so innovative thinking and preparation is critical and highly encouraged.

Once a PitchLX champion is crowned, we look to offer a strategic, cross-disciplinary incubation team (and perhaps eventually space) to help prototype and/or actualize the winning innovation(s). This group may consist of, but is not limited to, instructional designers, technologists, faculty, students, and/or industry experts. For a year leading up to the subsequent PitchLX event, ideas are refined, piloted, tweaked, and either implemented or discarded. Moving forward, we hope that PitchLX can represent a solution which creates a sustainable and dynamic educational environment where big ideas are welcomed and innovative thinking is celebrated.

A pilot event was held October 2016 with 7 pitches being presented to 4 judges in front of an audience of over 40 regional attendees. Pitches from this event included:

  • Hey Uni…: The Next University Management System (CU Boulder)
  • Request for Support Alert: Saving the At-risk Learner (University of the Rockies)
  • Customizable Digital Games for Learning Augmentation (Art Institute of Colorado)
  • Virtual Machine 2: Electric Boogaloo (MSU Denver)
  • Guerilluation: Capturing Data for Improvement (Pearson)
  • The Flipped Walkthrough: A highly-focused, Critically-reflective, Asynchronous Approach to Instructional Feedback (Colorado Christian University -- winning pitch)
  • Video Killed the Paper Star (University of Denver)

This solution, although in its infancy, has the potential to foster radical inter-disciplinarity and unprecedented ingenuity; allow exploration at the intersection of critical pedagogy and innovation; help to bring data-rich ideas into classrooms, offering new insights and continuous research potential regarding student engagement and teacher effectiveness; and frame focus towards teaching and learning experiences rather than overemphasizing specific tools or technologies. Through established internal partnerships with MSU Denver’s Center for Faculty Excellence and a wide array of strategic department faculty, and external partnerships with other universities, CU Denver’s Inworks, and a range of local entrepreneurial think-tanks, edtech startups, community services, and small businesses, PitchLX has the potential to become a significant solution to the problem of how we effectively cultivate pedagogically sound innovation within higher education.

PHASE II: Learning Lab

Given the necessary resources and attention, we believe this solution design could also lead to the creation of a dedicated, research-directed, cross-collaborative Learning Lab which broadly and equitably benefits the future direction and progress of higher education, innovation, and entrepreneurship. This collaborative learning space would allow for the cultivation of PitchLX innovations, and also be open to small local startups willing to interface with university faculty, staff and students in return for university-sponsored workspace. 

We're excited about the continued short-term design and long-term potential of this solution, but also know that success will only come through support, collaboration, humility, and mentorship. We hope the OLC Solution Design Summit represents the initial steps of a long journey with the potential to create revolutionary change.