George Lucas Educational Foundation

Open Innovation Platforms In Education

Open Innovation Platforms In Education

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Over the past few years we’ve watched Web 2.0 tools begin to enter the classroom at a rapid pace. Many of these tools are valuable, however, they have only acted as a digital channel to the same curriculums we’ve been teaching. What does this mean? We haven’t changed the way students learn or engage, we’ve only changed the way they access education with tools like iTunes U, Khan Academy, etc. Then we have the concept of the ‘flipped classroom.’ The flipped classroom has many definitions but Bill Tucker at EducationNext says it best: “…the core idea is to flip the common instructional approach: With teacher-created videos and interactive lessons, instruction that used to occur in class is now accessed at home, in advance of class. Class becomes the place to work through problems, advance concepts, and engage in collaborative learning. Most importantly, all aspects of instruction can be rethought to best maximize the scarcest learning resource—time.” The best way to flip the classroom is by incorporating open innovation and crowdsourcing technologies into the learning process. Imagine classrooms where students ask questions or pose challenges to one another using their phones. Other students are able to submit answers to these questions and collectively decide who’s right. Teachers are then able to take a step back from lecturing to help facilitate the ongoing online discussion. Students ask a question, other students answer, and the teacher moderates the discussion. We have just created a self-sufficient, democratic classroom that empowers students within the learning process. Here’s how simple it is to setup an Icon instance. Visit Enter your e-mail address and click ‘Sign up’ Click the link sent to your e-mail and complete the registration process Invite your students/co-workers (on same e-mail domain*) Here’s some ideas to get started: Prepopulate questions that are relevant to the discussion for the day. Let the students come up with ideas for prom (i.e. theme, venue, etc.) Let students submit challenges or questions that would like answered by the administration. On the district level, use Icon to let teachers community challenges and ideas to school administrators. We’re actively researching new use cases for Icon in education. If you’re interested in sharing your ideas or examples, please feel free to e-mail me at Our goal is to help change education for the better using the technologies that have made us successful in the private sector. (*Next month users will not need to be on the same e-mail domain to collaborate).

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Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hi Dustin,
A thought provoking post. Thanks for sharing. I was particularly intrigued by your statement that 'We have just created a self-sufficient, democratic classroom that empowers students within the learning process.' Is there any chance we can see that classroom - even as a guest? I'd love to explore an example of this kind of learning.

Also, there are lots of other kinds of applications that appear to do similar things - and don't need a sign in, like How is Spigit different?

Finally, you mention that teachers can moderate the information, but how does this work? I'm always concerned at the potential for inappropriate use.


Dustin Haisler's picture
Dustin Haisler
Innovator interested in using technology to create social change.

Hey Keith,

Thanks for the feedback.

Although this platform was created with the intention of facilitating community driven internal innovation, we quickly realized that this model of organizational engagement could apply to classrooms as well. There's lots of different ways this could work: (1) Students frame questions around a topic they're studying and other students can post their answers (2) Teachers frame questions around a topic area and students can submit their answers.

I'm happy to setup some time to Skype or Webex to show you how I see this being used in the classroom and go over some example roles of the students & teachers if you're interested. Feel free to reach out to me at to setup something up.

You can also check-out the platform at; would love to hear your feedback and suggestions. There are lots of new features in the works as well.



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