Archive for the ‘Activity’ Category

Google Data Studio: YCISL Skills Survey

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

I have been wondering how to create web dashboards and came across Google Data Studio. While learning how to use Google Data Studio, I played with visualizing the results from the YCISL Skills Survey. I aggregated the results from several YCISL workshops including two NIFTI programs, one ITW workshop and one YCISL Focus Group; there were responses from 107 students.

I will be starting the another NIFTI program next week and will update this dashboard when the survey results are in.

First, a few things I learned about using Google Data Studio:

  1. Collect GEO information. Google Data Studio includes a Google Maps chart which looks cool and would show the worldwide reach of the YCISL program.
  2. Try to eliminate chances for duplicate entries. I use Google Forms to do the survey and that is collected into Google Sheets. I manually moved data from each event’s survey to an aggregate Google Sheet from which Google Data Studio accesses data. I did this because I needed to clean out duplicates manually in Google Sheets.
  3. Include time stamp information. This allows Google Data Studio to display data from different time frames.

And now some observations about what I found through Google Data Studio:

  1. Students rated their Positivity skills very high at 4 or 5. This is a great indication of growth mindset.
  2. Students rated their Design Skills as average with most choosing 3. This suggests that we could discuss the meaning of “design” in the same way we discuss the broadness of “creativity” and “leadership” so every one feels that it is accessible. It was also interesting to see that design was the skill most students wanted to improve. Fits well with our programming on design thinking and design-build.
  3. There are also several students who rate various skills at 1 or 2. This could be an indication of no prior exposure or poor past experiences. Pushes our YCISL program to try to turn this around by creating memorable great experiences.

Looking forward to collecting more survey feedback and updating this dashboard.

YCISL Skills Survey: Which skill group do you want to improve the most?

Friday, September 17th, 2021

In 2019, we presented the idea of EQ-fying Schools, Classrooms & Learning in order to optimize the level of engagement. We postulated that current teaching paradigms exclude evaluation and optimization of emotional intelligence of students and the instructor, and that leads to fuzzy learning. We envisioned a smart dashboard for instructors that would help in course preparation. Data would include student academic records (mainly to identify gaps), learning strengths and weaknesses, and conditional preferences. For example, does the student typically need to be taught a math concept one or five times before it is mastered?

A creativity skills survey was designed and prototyped for a Stanford Sustainability Design Thinking course in 2020. A similar survey was then applied to various ITW workshops in 2020 and 2021. One of the questions (multiple choice) in the survey is “Which skill group do you want to improve the most?” In the YCISL context, this question is aimed at informing the instructor on student motivation and self-awareness. The survey is still in the prototype phase because we have had short programs and long programs, small groups and larger groups, and so on. So we are learning how the survey works in various settings.

However, I came across a YouTube video today on a cool way of displaying data in infographics so I thought I would try it out. The following infographic show the response to the above-mentioned question by a group of students from a university in Japan attending a YCISL Focus Group.

Almost half the students were interested in improving their creativity skills which is great because the YCISL program focuses on creativity (or more specifically creative energy). Many students were interested in improving their communication skills which is helpful to know since we have our elevator pitch exercise. Having this kind of information could help us balance our workshop agenda with accurate eq awareness & management.

WSJ: Making Senses

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

There was a special insert in the Friday July 8, 2021 issue of the WSJ titled the “Future of Everything.” In the center spread was an article titled “Making Senses” by Angus Loten & Kevin Hand. The article widened my mind scope on the “smart” and “eco-smart” project themes that are a part of the YCISL ITW-DTI workshops being offered this summer. Advances in sensory devices and dataset building with the alignment to human preferences should find amazing applications in sustainability design thinking.

Transparency. We are very familiar with computer vision and image recognition, but most of this is with regards to shapes and little else in terms of physical characteristics. The advancement described in the article about transparency will lead to better depth perception and recognition of vessel contents.

Taste. The need for sensory systems in food storage (eg, refrigerators that can detect bad food) is taking a long time. Let’s hope the advancements in “electronic tongue” technology means we are near the point where we can greatly reduce wasted food. A premium market for this may be in wine since wine can improve or decay depending on various factors.

Touch. I have seen many fascinating videos of product assembly lines and food production lines to know that there is a lot of mechanical tools involved. Upgrades to these and other applications could help healthcare as well as more common needs.

Smell. The AI sensory application to robotic noses and identifying vapors can be used in enhancing or neutralizing odors. There are so many places where pleasing odors could enhance productivity and removal of objectionable odors could reduce distractions.

Hearing. Noise cancellation hearing devices are quite popular presently. Ever tried using one during air travel? Isolating voices using AI could process sounds so that no idea is lost among the “chatter” and everyone is heard. Ever been to a call center?

The common thread in these advancing areas is the collection of reference data. Even so, there is so much variability that it is challenging to consider anything as a reference. Things change very quickly and conditions can tweak channels. For example, in the food waste application I mentioned above: how much reference data would be needed to tell whether it’s time to discard your jar of sauerkraut?


Activity: Mentoring Short Essays

Monday, July 19th, 2021

I have asked the mentors who have participated so far in the current season’s ITW-DTI workshops to compose short essays reflecting on their experience interacting with students and the life skills involved. The opportunity to mentor in a creativity setting is as significant to the YCISL program is as the opportunity to participate. The concepts of design thinking are as relevant to mentoring as they are to ideation and product realization.

This short essay collection assignment for the mentors is an additional chance for me to inspire these few students to be leaders lifted by emotional intelligence and deep thought on their journey. I have a few ideas in mind on how to fulfill this request:

(1) Storytelling. Through our YCISL technique in storytelling, we paint world views which detail the setting and circumstance, and enliven it with actions.

(2) Elevator Pitch. Using our YCISL “The Art of the Executive Summary” technique, we edit scenes and storyboard them in different orders to check for flow and meaning.

(3) Your Personal Story. Using our 3-part YCISL Your Personal Story technique, we build a resume-like chronicle of our past experiences, our present mindsets and behaviors, and ideas on our aspirational pursuit of meaning and fulfillment.

This could turn into one of those procrastination-type endeavors, so I am setting a 30-day goal of completing this assignment. Better this way anyway as the ITW-DTI workshops are still quite fresh in memory.

Activity: YCISL Design Thinking Incubator

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

In June 2021, the first YCISL ITW-DTI (Design Thinking Incubator) was launched. The second was just concluded yesterday. The ITW-DTI focuses on design thinking iteration in order for students to get the feel for revisiting design ideas in a fast succession prototyping manner. This gets the “raw-ness” out of the ideas which we thought would be a useful lesson for design thinking newbies. Previous to the ITW-DTI, we had the ITW (Innovators Toolkit Workshop) which was more broadly skills-based and ended with just one presentation. In the ITW-DTI, students have had to give their presentations three times where each time there was a blast of experiential learning.

Innovators Toolkit Workshop (ITW) Design Thinking Incubator (ITW-DTI)
4 days (2 weekends)
Skills: Asking Questions, Fast Creative Thinking, Divergent-Convergent Thinking, Filling & Crossing Gaps, Positivity
Project: Smart-ified Space or Object
Presentation: 1 Group Pitch
Exercises: Design-a-Tent, Invent-an-Ice Cream Flavor
Core: Out-of-Box Design Thinking
4 days (consecutive)
Skills: Asking Questions, Brainstorming, Divergent-Convergent Thinking
Project: Design-a-Club, Design-a-(Smart) School Space, & more…
Presentations: Team Practice, Group Practice, Faire
Exercises: Problem Statement, Solution Concept, Feature List
Core: Asking Questions Approach to Design Thinking

The ITW-DTI is a much faster program, but also attends to the “5-second Rule” phenomenon that was dragging the ITW program. By this rule and the more highly packed ITW-DTI schedule, the design thinking brainwork stays in the fast lane. Quick acceleration is key, but only needs to be pushed once. Making incremental improvements is a lot simpler too.

Compared to the earlier YCISL workshop programs that were on-campus and totaled many more contact hours, the ITW-DTI is an effective means of experimenting with design thinking with the potential to connect presence with action (EQ-talk). So long as the ITW-DTI experience along with all other YCISL programs spring the Aha! moments for students, I think we have something worth pursuing.



Activity: LwL The Principal Dialogues

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

I’ve been partnering with Learn with Leaders (LwL) on YCISL programs for about 8 months. It has inspired and enabled me to reach out to new horizons and focus on Zoom-enabled coaching. It’s been a fun challenge.

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in an event called “The Principal Dialogues” where LwL invited a group of school heads/principals for a Popcorn with Colin-like online Zoom discussion group. The event came about as a result of discussions about how to partner with schools with our new series of online programs. As reflected by my organizing partner in Japan, it may be that (1) schools are still putting their focus and energy into re-grouping from the virus-induced disruption and concentrating on curriculum continuity,  or (2) the on again-off again switches creates too much uncertainty to make commitments. To find out more, we thought we would ask the school leaders.

We came up with an agenda where everyone took a turn to warm-up the discussion by sharing their reflections as an educator in 2020. For my part, I mentioned the ITW program and the five skills being coached, the NIFTI-SEWSS Scholars Program seminar series, and the in-progress NIFTI Roundtable planning activity. The uncertainty about whether we would resonate quickly dissipated as we found several in-common areas of thought. And we did this despite varying levels of disruption – or even non-disruption as described by Guy (Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Perth WA). Here are a few “bites” from the discussion (what I managed to jot down):

  • Awareness. We heard from Caroline (Liger Leadership Academy) about the importance of self-awareness. Mark (The British School, New Delhi) connected this to metacognition and the “snowflake” condition. To me, this fits well with my YCISL interest in emotional intelligence and the application of design thinking to developing a personal brand identity through our “Your Personal Story” exercises. I think the issue is that there is a common belief that one’s awareness and brand identity is already naturally present and needs no additional investment or work. The problem is in the form and function being absent of EQ.
  • Playfulness Quotient. Many of the participants identified social isolation as a front-line issue during the current educational rollercoaster ride. This isolation has inhibited in-person social interaction as well as creating new connections. Like a neural network, there is a decay going on. Monica (Shiv Nadar School, Gurgaon) raised the term “Playfulness Quotient” which piqued my interest as it resonated with the YCISL activities (eg, ping pong game) emphasizing play as a means for sparking creativity. This “PQ” idea extends well from Tim Brown’s “Tales of Creativity & Play” from which we learn that interventional action is needed during the school years to ensure happiness and well-being for life.
  • Thinking Skills and a Culture of Creativity. I am 100% sure that everyone present has “thinking skills” as a top priority. I specifically recall Meenakshi (Modern School, Delhi) bringing up the topic. This is one of those “simple, but not easy” areas because teachers are broadly accountable for the answers students give, but not the “thinking” route that led to the answer. At this point, I believe everyone jumped in to wonder whether teachers need to join this discussion. For my YCISL contribution, I offered the recommendation to visit Jef Raskin’s article “Holes in the Histories” to find a list of ways people mis-lead themselves as well as others with information that is mis-understood or mis-interpreted.

I would also like to acknowledge Kai (British School Muscat), Dominic (Liger Leadership Academy), and Gerald (North Jakarta Intercultural School) for their shared insights as well; my note-taking just wasn’t quick enough. Regardless, the international scope of the present challenge is clear.

Events: YCISL Innovators Toolkit Workshop (ITW)…Cartoon Examples

Monday, January 18th, 2021

Here is a set of cartoons made in Pixton on the five YCISL Innovators Toolkit Workshop (ITW) skills that we focus on. Do these help the explanation of these skills?

*Source credit for magnesium-chocolate story:
**Dumpling image downloaded from

Activity: Pixton for YCISL Cartooning

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

Once in a while, I try to change up the style of my presentations. Usually I work on the color palette, typefaces and (more recently) adding slide animations. has been a favorite and I have made quite a few flyers and slide backgrounds there. Today, I looked up cartooning tools and came across Pixton. In about 20 minutes, I produced a cartoon about divergent-convergent thinking. There were some things about the experience I really liked (eg, postures and facial expressions) and a couple of things that were somewhat limited. It was fun! Now I have to think up other storyboards.


Plan: Divergent-Convergent Thinking (Popcorn Series)

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

The Popcorn with Colin (PwC) series started in mid-2020 as a means of connecting with students in the virtual space to chat about creativity and developments in the YCISL program. Each PwC meeting, a short 60 to 90 minutes with a small group of 5 to 12 students, is designed to create engagement and the sharing of viewpoints (where you are) and perspectives (what you see). I’ll write up more about it in another article; it’s been going well and should have good future pick-up.

This wiki entry focuses on an upcoming PwC meeting where I would like to discuss Divergent-Convergent Thinking (DCT). I will probably follow-up that PwC with a YCISL White Paper to share action items that “pop” up. DCT has been a part of the YCISL workshops for about 5 years and more recently it was included in the Innovators Toolkit publications on the YCISL web site and the Innovators Toolkit Workshops (ITW). And I just made a short presentation last week on DCT in the NIFTI-SEWSS program; the response from students has been fantastic.

The tentative agenda for that PwC is:

– What is it and why is it a useful creativity skill?
– Checking our divergent thinking (brainstorming) skill…an exercise.
– Applying divergent-convergent thinking to a research project. A group discussion.

The new part that needs development is the connection of DCT to research methods and skills. I’ve heard from many YCISL students that they would like to improve their research skills and find research opportunities. I found the figure below which I think could lend structure to a presentation on research applications of DCT. Inspiration, ideation and implementation are practical stages to step through in all aspects of research (I will focus on proposal writing, experimental design, and reporting). I will need to remember to embed this in a design thinking teamwork and collaboration context because research needs to be people-connected.

That’s all I wanted to share for now about the PwC DCT plan.

Thought: Are Jigsaw Puzzles Good for Training Divergent-Convergent Thinking and Creativity?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

One of my newest obsessive hobbies is now jigsaw puzzles. After completing about 10 puzzles in the past 3 months, I have begun to wonder whether jigsaw puzzles build creativity and are a good example of an activity that uses divergent-convergent thinking. Could a jigsaw puzzle exercise be designed for YCISL workshops just like how we have a Lego activity to demonstrate rapid team prototyping?

Putting together jigsaw puzzles involves creative energy because there are many solution paths and solution strategies. Also, there are multiple and switchable directions: finding a piece that fits a hole or edge(s), or finding a hole or edge that fits the piece you have picked up. There are trial-and-error methods as well as visualization methods that involve rapid eye movement. There is not only shape matching. One could involve color matching as hints. So even though the end result should be the same assembled puzzle (assuming you finish the puzzle), there is a creative element because of the variations that are essentially guaranteed; even if I were to solve the puzzle twice, it is improbable that the exact same solution path would be repeated – and think of the probability that the same time-based profile would be repeated.

Let us also consider how jigsaw puzzles would make a good model for training divergent-convergent thinking. Usually, the jigsaw puzzle pieces have some sort of distinguishable pattern based on the number and directionality of the tabs and slots. These are sortable features and are part of my strategy. So given a particular hole or edge waiting to be connected with a piece, there are certain piece patterns that could be fit and other patterns that could be deductively reasoned not to be a fit candidate. So we can select several candidates to fit a position – this would be the divergent thinking step. We could choose two or more candidates for a hole using the criteria of the moment. We would start our convergent step by selecting a candidate piece and trying to attach it. If there is a perfect fit, great! (but sometimes it is a fake fit), and if that piece was not the right fit, then we would go back to the pool of candidates or create a new pool of candidates (if we learned something from that non-fit attempt where we figured the pool was not going to work). The big bonus of using jigsaw puzzles to model divergent-convergent thinking is the fast thinking cycle aspect because the divergent-convergent thinking steps are usually repeated in clusters. These clusters could be sized by varying the time periods spent on finding matches.

With the creativity and divergent-convergent aspects confirmed, what fun ways might there be to make this worthy of a workshop workout? The first round might involve individual efforts establishing the time periods of sustainable puzzle solving (ie, how long before you need to take a break and rest the mind and eyes?) The next level might be a team effort to reflect interpersonal communication and group dynamics skills. A trick version might be to include a piece that doesn’t actually belong.

The jigsaw puzzle lessons would be compared to real world problems where the pieces may or may not be at our disposal, and we have to practice divergent-convergent thinking with an understanding that the final product may be quite different from what we expected at the start.

Fun. Can’t wait to try it. Now if only I can figure out a version of this that would work over Zoom.