I deplaned at San Francisco International Airport. As I stepped into the trendy, bright terminal, I teetered between confidence and doubt.
Did I really belong as a guest at Stanford?
I brushed off the doubt and committed to enjoying the ride by conversing with anyone who had the time. The next seven days of that fateful spring week in 2013 led to some of the most formative conversations of my short career, many of which included my gracious host, Erik Olesund.
Now, two years later and after a few more collaborations, I’m packing my bags and preparing for another project with my heroes and friends at the d.school, including Erik himself. This time though, the stakes are a bit higher as they include projects, presentations and trips to Berlin and Paris, all of which begins this Monday. But, let me back up before I continue…
Ever since stumbling into the space of designing education through experience, I’ve wondered what it might look like to support thousands of people who need to design a leap of their own. Experience Institute has become our anchor – the school where pioneering thinkers, makers & doers dive headlong into this concept. The school has been a landing place for some of the sharpest and kindest people I’ve come to know.
But, what about individuals who can’t make it here? How do we reach them? What type of helpful tools and resources should we create?
Now that 2016 is around the corner, Ei’s surrounding team and I have wondered if Leap Year 2016 could be the year to package everything we’ve learned and share it with others.
During a recent trip to the d.school, I popped into an all staff meeting and hinted at the idea. It seemed to strike a chord of excitement and curiosity. A couple of months later, they found a way to continue including Ei and this Leap Year concept into their work around researching the future of higher education, building upon Stanford 2025.
This time, we’re part of the d.school’s Experimenter Studio, and it’s as awesome and mysterious as it sounds.
For the past two months, we’ve been scheming with various staff and students. Part of the plans have included prototypes of a Leap Kit – tools that might guide someone through creating their own season of learning and growth. We’re also writing a workshop to help leapers get started and developing a way to train individuals who want to start a leap group in their own community.
All of this will begin taking flight on campus with small groups of students next Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, I’ll join a team entitled d.global as they explore new types of design thinking methods in Berlin and Paris. At times, we’ll even combine d.thinking and leaping into one evening.
The friends involved have been working harder than ever to prepare for the experiments. We’re designing, printing and assembling kits, running through plans, promoting events, and preparing for the gatherings. It’s been a season of dreaming+building and we’re loving it.
I’ll keep you posted as things take flight, but if this work interests you and you’d like to help, could you consider spreading the word about open applications for Ei’s Fall Class? We’re looking for a special group of students to join us in Chicago to design their education with more tools and brilliant teammates than ever while also being on the ground floor as the next Leap Year Project takes flight. Simply share a tweet or send an email pointing someone to this blog post (ie: “Applications are now open for @expinstitute’s 2016 class. Learn more at: http://bit.ly/1C5dPMT”)
And, wherever you are, if you’re building something that feels bigger than yourself, and you’re teetering between confidence and doubt…just start a conversation with the next person you see, listen closely, and enjoy the ride.
You never know where it will take you.