Governance and Global Affairs Blog

My favourite Friday… Future Friday!

My favourite Friday… Future Friday!

Centre for Innovation: Join us on Future Friday

Working at the Centre for Innovation, where we are putting people first in a digital age,  is always invigorating, but nothing showcases the way we operate like Future Friday, every Friday at the Living Lab, our flexible open work & learning space which is open to people inside and outside the university. Civil servants, NGO’s, students, professors, professionals, they all find their way to the Living Lab to exchange innovative ideas and make something happen in a hands on way where society and university meet.

The day usually starts with a bit of socializing during coffee at ten. As we are by nature flex workers, flocking all over the university, indeed all over the world, throughout the week, this is a time when we catch up with coworkers.  There is chatter on the latest successes of Humanity X, the start ups of our Minor Entrepreneurship for Society and the Venture Academy, and the latest releases of massive open online courses of the Online Learning Lab.

This morning we have a group of visiting journalists from Africa, there as part of a tour giving by the Dutch Foreign Affairs department, a partner we work with often. I get to present a project of the World Food Programme, a collaboration of Humanity X and Online Learning Lab, on the mVAM mobile tool. We teach 500 learners from 50 nations how to use a tool that gives the WFP the right data at the right time to deploy food into disaster areas. The online course is fit to purpose because it is flexible, solves geographical challenges and allows WFP to scale easily. My presentation is just a 15 minute pitch with a Q&A session, ending with a quip on Trump University, another online venture which was a little less successful. Afterwards I end up chatting with somebody from Eastern Europe who needs some tips on how to e-moderate courses, which is my speciality in the team.

This will happen all through the day. Co-workers will link me up with various people needing advice on Online Learning and exchanging views on community management in particular. It is a big network opportunity. Meanwhile in the background one of the team members receives guests as a host and quietly  introduces them to the right people after a few brief questions of the project that person is working on. We accelerate projects, or make them happen by connecting the dots, aid with rapid prototyping and introducing the right people to each other. My coworkers at Humanity X call this function challenge broker and it is vital to how Future Fridays work.

During lunch we watch a masterclass on teaching Sustainable Development Goals by the Open University with a few interested co workers. Anybody can join in. There are learning opportunities during the day, often spontaneous, but regularly planned as a workshop too.

In between sessions there is a brief feedback on the development of our online toolkit with the  Agile for Excellence Lab, which a graphic designer intern has been working on. Some great progress is being made in sharing the methods we use to create innovative projects.

This afternoon, in between brief conversations with visitors of Future Friday, we also manage a working session to think up a new kind of Massive Open Online Course in the field of SDG’s, trying to sketch what we would need to develop it further and how to create exciting content with our partner Coursera. Expertise from all labs is shared on post its and flip overs, while we capture ideas and recently gained knowledge.

The day ends with Drinks at Plein, while we wind down and share our excitement on all the new contacts and projects that flowed from our innovation day.

Perhaps next Future Friday you will join us too!

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