GMU’s Resilience Badge Takes Off


This month George Mason University issued the Resilience Badge to a third cohort. The Resilience Badge is one of eight 21st Century Skills digital badges that the Lab developed with a dozen university partners. A diverse group of 36 students traversing varying majors, academic years, and student populations, joined together for their final meetup signifying the end of their badge earning journey. Over the course of three years GMU has scaled their Resilience Badge from four badge earners in Spring 2016 to 82 this Fall, demonstrating their commitment to the Resilience Badge as a truly valuable credential as opposed to something that’s ‘nice to have’. Some students participated in a five-week hybrid workshop to earn the badge, while others will receive the badge through integration with a well-being course offered by GMU. Several students shared their experience earning the badge with us after the workshop remarking on how these skills they learned are highly valuable to all students, and shouldn’t be exclusively taught to those with foresight to sign-up for the badge. Others commented how they were already able to start using some of the mindful practices they learned to manage their work-life balance and work more effectively with others on their work teams. 


The Lab kicks off the 1st Convening for the Seamless Transfer Pathways Design Challenge

Thank you to our participating institutions!

  • Harper College,
  • Northern Illinois University,
  • Township High School District 211,
  • Northern Virginia Community College,
  • George Mason University,
  • Collin College,
  • University of North Texas,
  • Miami Dade College,
  • Florida International University

Last week, the much heralded Seamless Transfer Pathways Design Challenge kicked off with the presidents of George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College welcoming 26 administrators and staff from four transfer teams, representing 9 institutions. Our design question is: How might community colleges and four-year universities dramatically improve transfer and baccalaureate attainment rates by reframing the end-to-end experience from the student’s point-of-view?  The intense two-day, interactive design engagement focused on what the Lab calls the  Understand  phase, parsing out important data and information gaps that can help the teams understand this challenge and solution opportunities from the student perspective.

Day 1 began with a fast-paced hands-on activity, Redesigning the Gift-giving Experience, to help participants practice a full design cycle in just under an hour. After this jumpstart, we rolled up our sleeves to map the data story of each team’s transfer experience. Who falls out, who has excess credit, who takes too long to graduate, and most importantly, why? After a day of thought-provoking inquiry and discussions looking at the “big data” and data gaps,  the cohort attended a dinner at the Mason Club with 5 special guests, current transfer students from Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.  Each team conducted a short interview with the students and built an Empathy Map. As one administrator said, “We think we know what are students are experiencing, but we don’t actually get to learn from the ones who don’t make it through.”

On Day 2, we began designing Human-Centered Design Research Protocols to add a “little data” component to what we understand about the transfer experience.  Teams considered what they need to learn qualitatively, beyond the numbers, about the motivations, needs and behaviors of community college students hoping to transfer.  Journey maps helped detail the specific actions and emotions and opportunities for failed pathways, as well as patterns of opportunity. The biggest “ah-has” so far: How much we don’t know about the students who are unsuccessful… How much of the problem seems focused around two key problem statements: 1) many students are underprepared academically for the fields they hope to pursue which creates many unintended consequences, and 2) Students who don’t choose majors early are much less likely to succeed and/or may be pushed into a limited number of career options at greater expense. The cohort and teams will continue to work together to surface and publish specific insights for each team and co-design Seamless Transfer Pathways that will dramatically improve transfer and baccalaureate attainment rates. After the research phase, starting in January 2018, the Lab will visit the teams for design sessions on each campus.  Stay tuned!
“This opportunity forces us into a time and space to see where are our strengths and weaknesses, where are the gaps where we need to draw straight lines that form a seamless transfer path.” Participant from Miami Dade College & Florida International University

ReImagining the Resume with Members of 47 HBCUs

The Lab engaged 400 students and 60 college coordinators representing career services, retention offices, and alumni affairs as part of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Annual Leadership Institute. The energy was high as students from 47 publicly-supported HBCUs ‘suited up’ to learn about the skills necessary to be successful in today’s very competitive global workforce. The Lab’s Don Fraser spoke to the group about the gig economy, crowd-based capitalism, and skills-based hiring as key global workforce trends and begged the question: are our students ready for this world? We rolled up our sleeves to design solutions to help the schools feel more confident answering ‘yes’ to that question. The Lab’s 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge is one effective way to help build students’ awareness of and capabilities around the skills employers are seeking. We challenged the group to “imagine a world without a resume” and, using real student resumes, developed a “unique display of their skills in a creative format.” The groups came up with examples that utilized VR, mobile technology, podcasts, and video–all more robust than the one-dimensional resume and capable of more clearly displaying the skills and supporting artifacts in which employers would be most interested.

The Lab presents at Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit

The Lab’s Don Fraser (left) with Houssem Ismail (right), a badge-earner and student at Tunis Business School.

The Lab recently presented with Rachel Surkin of IREX (one of our partners in the co-design of the Oral Communication Badge) at the annual Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit in Washington, D.C.  The featured session, entitled Beyond the Transcript: Capturing Credentials for the Workplace, was designed to demonstrate how two international institutions (Tunis Business School and Makerere University) were able to design a rigorous, integrated learning journey for students to earn a digital badge in oral communication.  The Lab and IREX were joined by Desy Osunsade, Director of Talent Acquisition and Diversity, who spoke candidly about how rigorous 21st century skill digital badges such as the oral communication badge add a critical and needed dimension to the applicant.  Houssem Ismail, a student from Tunis Business School (TBS) who earned the badge, was also a part of the presentation.  

Listening to Houssem speak in front of an audience of 50+ global economic leaders, everyone was shocked to hear him describe himself as shy and introverted pre-oral communication badge. With such poise and self-awareness, he spoke about not the badge itself he had earned at TBS, but the skills he gained through intentionally practicing the art of oral communications in authentic ways.

He pointed to several specific instances where his learning experiences came into practice in real life. One key difference he noticed was his interviewing abilities. In an exercise to earn the badge, Houssem and his peers roleplayed different interview scenarios playing both the role of the interviewer and the interviewee. By playing the part of the interviewer, he became more fully aware of the importance of concise delivery. Houssem described this awareness as “a bell that would go off in his head” when he’s gone on for too long.

Once he landed the position, an internship with the British Council, another valuable skill he was able to practice was the far less formal ‘chit-chat’ that goes on in an office setting. Houssem shared how before earning the oral communications badge he didn’t feel he had the social skills to be successful at the internship. The side conversations in the workplace that occur in the cafeteria or break room, can go a long way for a young intern looking to bond and network with new colleagues. These skills, as Houssem noted are not innate for many young people.  

In a side conversation with Hussem, he shared how as much as he was enjoying the messages of the keynote speakers at the conference, he found himself critiquing their storytelling capabilities–something he only did because he learned about and practiced storytelling as part of the badge earning experience.  

When students are able to translate what they learned into their everyday experiences and become increasingly aware of their own oral communication skills (as well as others), then we know the badge is adding value beyond the traditional classroom experience.    

Boise State University and the Lab prototype suite of 21st century skills badges

Last week, the Lab traveled to beautiful Boise State University to kick off our year-long engagement integrating three of our 21st Century Skills Badges (Catalyst, Collaboration, Resilience) into the student experience for all Community and Environmental Health majors. The 2-day, interactive design sprint with 30+ energetic faculty, staff, students and employers explored the “what is” and “what if” phases of design and included a big-picture look at the curricular and co-curricular landscape at Boise State University to see where authentic practice and assessment of the skills are already taking place, understanding the critical stakeholders using Empathy Mapping, and eventually developing napkin pitches–early ideas about how this could be done at Boise State (e.g., an immersive, project-based experience to bring a sustainable food truck to campus). The second day culminated with fun prototyping and role playing activities wherein groups comprised of students, faculty, career services, and community partners got up and acted out scenarios in the badge earning processes they created.  Over the coming months, the Lab will continue its work with the forward thinkers at Boise State to create a replicable model of how to be more transparent about the skills students are developing, intentionally build and practice the skills in authentic ways (e.g., using the community at large as “co-educators”) and design badge earning journeys that are transformative for students and exciting to employers.  
Participants at Boise State use empathy mapping, a design tool, to better understand what students think and feel in order to inform what a badge can and must do.

The Lab hosts design session for Connecting Credentials “Aligning Supply & Demand” workgroup

This month, the Lab team hosted a design session with Connecting Credentials “Aligning Supply & Demand” workgroup to further explore opportunities for alignment between supply (learners, higher ed institutions, and other credentialing organizations) and demand (employers) within the rapidly changing credentialing ecosystem. Guided by the Aligning Supply & Demand group’s work-to-date, participants tackled questions such as: What are the design criteria for the emerging ecosystem? How might an institution’s learner records be offered to employers in ways that are scalable and standardized? And how might a unified language or effective translation system emerge from the broad range of stakeholders?

Throughout the session, the primary importance of the employer perspective emerged as a key theme. “Employers are way ahead for the system we are envisioning,” one participant commented, suggesting that there is an urgent need for system players to learn from the demand side—those who are assigning value to the credentials (through talent recruitment). Competencies, language, learner pathways—employers must play a key role in defining each.

Over the coming weeks, the workgroup will continue to surface insights from the session and form recommendations for advancing alignment between supply and demand.

Attendees represented Capella University, Connecting Credentials, Credly, IMS Global, Learning Objects, Parchment, Portfolium, SkillSmart, UMUC, and University of Wisconsin. The Lab’s President & Founder, Kathleen deLaski, co-chairs the workgroup.

Participants discuss and “vote” for the emerging credentialing ecosystem’s design criteria.
The Lab team and participants create a system map of key players within the credentialing ecosystem.

The Lab leads Innovation Design Sprint for UNCF Career Pathways Initiative

The Lab leads Innovation Design Sprint for UNCF Career Pathways InitiativeHow do you turn the ship– historically black colleges and universities—to adapt to the changing career landscape of graduates? This week, approximately 180 attendees representing 24 HBCUs and PBIs pushed on that question at the 2nd Annual UNCF Career Pathways Initiative Convening. The UNCF Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), funded by Lilly Endowment, is a $50 million investment over a seven-year period, that helps four-year HBCUs and PBIs strengthen institutional career placement outcomes.  See EdSurge article on reactions and learnings.

The goals were straight forward; to think bigger about the design of their programs, share best practices, and collaborate with one another. The best outcome was a sense that the work is critical to the success of HBCU’s and “fiercely urgent.”

At the Lab, we believe that student-centered design has the power to transform institutions. As such, we constructed an intensive 2-1/2 day design-innovation experience that would help university attendees look critically at their current implementation plans to improve student success and career outcomes and ask the questions: is our design student-focused and will it be transformational enough to achieve the CPI goals we set forth?

Throughout the summit, participants were invited to explore and balance the learning of Design Thinking tools and methods with making progress on their CPI plan. They were introduced to design tools such as Empathy Mapping, Journey Mapping, Affinity Mapping, Prototyping, and Napkin Pitches to bring their own work to life and find patterns for insight.

“Empathy mapping allowed us to “remember” or “reconnect” with what the student is actually facing, feeling, etc. Empathy mapping brought it back home to ensuring student-focused design.” – University Attendee

The Lab also introduced the Ten Types of Innovation framework as a way for institutions to think about innovation and changing the game for student success. As part of this segment, the Lab invited MLT and Revature to share their models on how to empower a new generation of diverse leaders and advancing talent and technology.

The convening concluded with two “pitches”: one responding to how universities can leverage one another’s strengths to make progress in this work and the second to allow each institutional team to tell their own Prototype (or implementation) story.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to tell our story.” – University Attendee

“Design thinking was something interesting for understanding and cracking a problem using many brains.” – University Attendee 

Participants at Elon University consider how

Employer Testing Kicks Off as Student Pilots Wrap Up

The 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge student pilots are wrapping up as the academic year comes to a close—but the Lab’s work with employers is ramping up. In partnership with Michigan Colleges Alliance, the Lab team led two dynamic sessions with a wide range of local and national employers from across the state. The sessions focused on moving towards skills-based hiring, how 21st Century Skills Badges can work within current hiring practices, and the T-shaped individual (someone who possesses the deep knowledge and skill set of one discipline—vertical/technical skills—as well as skills that cross disciplines—horizontal or 21st century skills).

While the resume and cover letter (the incumbent and trusted early signals) remain the first step of a job application, employers reported that 21st Century Skills Badges and profiles of T-shaped learners would be of similar—if not more—importance. Over 90% considered 21st Century Skills Badges of higher importance than cover letters, and over half of employers said that the badges would be prioritized over a resume.

The rich feedback that emerged from the employer sessions, in conjunction with the student responses from the live pilots, will help the Lab refine the 21st century skills badge earning process and push forward a set of digital badges that address both employer and student needs.
Employers represented at the session included: Ford, Meijer, Enterprise Holdings, Amerisure, Willis Towers Watson, ASG Renaissance, DTE Energy, Shape Corporation, Shift Digital, Right Management.

Participants at Elon University consider how

Education Design Lab’s Seamless Transfer Pathways  Design Challenge featured in Inside Higher Ed

Every year in the United States, approximately 600,000 students enter a community college with the goal of ultimately attaining a bachelor’s degree. Frustratingly, close to 86% of them will never achieve that dream. This is a national failure. Developing more “seamless” transfer pathways between community colleges and four-year institutions is one key to improving those attainment rates.

To address this national crisis, the Lab is pleased to announce our latest design challenge, Seamless Transfer Pathways, made possible through a generous grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The Lab will work with institutions ready to design and launch their own seamless transfer pathways through an intensive one-year design process that includes two convenings with cohort participants, access to subject-matter experts, and customized site visits. The challenge year will be followed by a pilot year, a convening to share lessons learned, and annual evaluations to track outcomes. See press coverage from Inside Higher Ed.

The RFP is now available! Applications must be submitted by June 31th at 8pm ET.

Education Design Lab’s 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge Featured on PBS NewsHour


21st Century Skills Badging Challenge Cohort Convening Highlights Opportunities within the University and Beyond

This March, the Education Design Lab’s school partners on the 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge gathered for the 2016-17 Cohort Convening–the culminating event of the year. Bringing together university teams from across the country, it was a celebration of 6 months of research and pilot design. Participants, in the midst of student pilots, were eager to share their unique badge earning models, insights, and challenges and engage with other cohort members.

The group tackled crucial questions, such as the rigor and portability of 21st century skills badges–and collectively addressed the future of the challenge. Could 21st century skills badges help inform the next gen resume? How might the badge earning process be used to reimagine the university experience?

Participants at Elon University consider how
 Cohort members share and discuss their badge earning models. The processes presented ranged from seminar-style sessions to hybrid programs to a corporate training model.

The group responds to the question: Could 21st century skills badges help inform the next gen resume?

The work of the cohort features a wide range of badge earning processes—from seminar-style sessions to hybrid programs to a corporate training model (featuring the badging process as a way to extend a conference). The diverse perspectives in the room sparked creative ideas for a path forward. While “reimagining the university,” participants identified opportunities within departments such as Alumni Engagement and Residential Life. Career Services, in particular, stood out as a viable environment that could benefit from 21st century skills badges.

The Lab team looks forward to refining prototypes like “Career Services 2.0” and moving the collaborative work of the Cohort Convening into the next phase of development.

The Lab Hosts 1st of 3-session Series on Design Thinking at Elon University

As part of a three-session series on Design Thinking at Elon University, the Education Design Lab led a workshop to introduce faculty and staff to Journey Mapping as a key design method. During this 3-hour session, participants were invited to explore and apply design thinking to the Elon student experience. Starting with a detailed student experience design case study, the Lab led participants through a hands-on exercise with journey mapping. This brought to life a specific journey or experience familiar with the university’s teams. The workshop concluded with a discussion and structured brainstorming activity to help participants identify where they might apply journey mapping at Elon.

Participants at Elon University consider how

Using sticky notes, participants isolate the actions a person takes up to and through their journey. For each of these, participants also identify the emotional high or low of the experience.

Journey maps help visualize a person’s actions, thoughts, and feelings over the course of their journey. We had participants map out a traveler’s flying experience as an example of this process.

The Lab was on the road in February and March!

The Lab was thrilled to present along with Badging Challenge partners at conferences around the country in late February and early March. As we continue to look for partners for the next phase of the #BadgingChallenge, we always want to hear what you are doing.

AAC&U’s Design Thinking for Student Learning Conference
(Yes, a major confab on how colleges are adapting learning.)
Friday, February 24th – Phoenix, AZ
Education Design Lab’s Kathleen deLaski
Georgetown University’s Mike Schaub (Executive Director of the Career Education Center)
George Mason University’s Lewis Forrest (Associate Dean for University Life)

IMS Global Summit on Digital Credentials and Badges
Tuesday, February 28th – Orlando, FL
Education Design Lab’s Larry Roth joined a panel of employers on how the market is responding to digital badges.

Parchment Summit (A few hundred of your closest friends who care about the future of credentials)
Wednesday, March 1st – Washington D.C.
Education Design Lab’s Kathleen deLaski
University of Arizona’s Abra McAndrew (Assistant Vice Provost for Student Engagement)
Bay Path University’s Stephen Brand (Executive Director of Global Learning and Development)
Georgetown University’s Erika Cohen-Derr (Assistant Dean for Student Engagement)

Plus, Kathleen interviewed Sean Gallagher, author of The Future of University Credentials.

Badging Studio Team Meeting

Working across the school-to-work pipeline, the Lab is constantly reminded of the need to question whether the current multi-faceted ecosystem that links learners, institutions and employers can support changing educational models, an emerging set of credentials (e.g., digital badges) and employer needs. The Lab sees a need to identify and bridge best and emerging practices that could help redefine the ecosystem. For the February 2017 Studio Team Meeting, we brought together more than a dozen systems-level thinkers from the fields of technology, credentialing, and higher education to pressure test our prototypes for how to scale a badge earning process for post secondary learners in ways that would be credible to employers.

How might we bridge the skills language gap between institutions, students, and hiring managers? What might a translation system look like? Participants were not only charged with those questions and presented with early visualizations (created by the Lab and informed by the past three years of work); they were encouraged to dissect the visualizations, to play with them, to challenge and inquire. As the session progressed, information about parallel efforts, industry insights, and new partnership opportunities naturally emerged. Thanks to organizations that participated: Connecting Credentials, Credly, Education Advisory Board, The Common Application, 2gnome, Duke University, University of Texas System, and two of the schools in our badging challenge cohort who are building 21st century skill badges: Bay Path University and IREX (on behalf of Makerere University and Tunis Business School).

Kathleen deLaski presents one expression of a learner-employer translation process to the Studio Team.
Participants explore the Lab’s key questions about the system underlying the skills language gap between institutions, students, and hiring managers.

Connected Pathways “Designing Hospitality Pathways Convening”

This week’s Connected Pathways “Designing Hospitality Pathways Convening” offered participants a unique environment for exploring and imagining the possibilities of alternative academic and training pathways. Often designing directly with individual schools and systems, the Education Design Lab spent the past several months extending its reach—interviewing and running sessions primarily with hospitality industry experts, secondary and post-secondary educators, and DC learners (opportunity youth and adult charter school students). The alternative pathway visualizations which the Lab imagined, refined, and presented at the convening—though derived from city- and industry-specific research—helped bring into focus the national challenge of increasing college affordability and flexibility.

Rose, Bud, Thorn: Participants get together in groups to discuss postives, negatives and potential opportunities of prototype pathways. 
After exploring and thinking about multiple student pathways, participants share out thoughts and ideas that emerged during the day.

Promoting Design-Driven Innovation at Montgomery College

At the Lab, we believe that student-centered design has the power to transform institutions. As such, it is part of our mission to spread that belief and lead the charge in teaching student-centered design philosophies to educators across the nation. This month, the Lab introduced a broad range of stakeholders from staff, faculty, senior vice presidents along with the president at Montgomery College to design-driven innovation through a half-day Introduction to Design Thinking session.

During the half-day design session, participants were introduced to the process and concepts of design thinking through the d.School’s gift giving exercise. Following the exercise, the Lab helped participants discover how design-driven innovation can be used in higher education by sharing our design process and a case study on our work at WGU. Once participants understood the application of design driven innovation to higher ed, they were challenged to explore and and reframe problems that impede student success on campus, create design questions that frame problems as challenges, and develop empathy maps.

Participants pair up during the d.Schools gift giving exercise and share their needs, goals, and motivations with each other.

Dig Deeper: Participants flex their design thinking muscles by stepping into students’ shoes and building empathy maps of stakeholders.

While our work at Montgomery College was a first step towards engaging innovation around campus, the response from attendees re-enforces that, given the opportunity, the campus was enthusiastic about thinking differently in higher education. What are some of the ways you have worked to introduce the concepts of innovation to your campus? Contact us and let us know!

Prototyping Alternative and Academic Career Pathways

December has been busy for our newest challenge: the Connected Pathways initiative. We are prototyping new pathways to professional careers, starting with the fastest growing industry in Washington, DC, hospitality. This project explores the connection between professional experience, skill development, and credentialing opportunities—and how the Lab might surface and visualize flexible, affordable academic and career pathways to the middle class. Current partners include: Marriott, ACE, SUNY Empire State College, New Futures, and Academy of Hope.

Design Sessions with Students & the “Studio Team “

Design research to date has documented the values, capabilities, and challenges of both high-need learners in Washington, DC and the hospitality industry, and recently the Studio Team reacted to early prototypes and helped build on them. What’s a studio team? In this case, the session gathered a mix of a dozen subject matter experts—leaders within the DC hospitality industry and postsecondary credentialing, as well as key representatives of opportunity youth and adult learner schools. The transfer of ideas and expertise across the wide range of participants highlighted mutual interests and points of connection, and by the end of the session, several promising high-level prototypes had emerged.

DC hospitality employers design education models with schools and educators.

Participants consider the design criteria for four different prototypes.

In preparation for a larger convening at the end of January, the Connected Pathways team will spend the next month advancing and exploring the elements of each potential pathway. If you would like to submit a concept or learn more about the initiative, please contact our Connected Pathways team.

Kicking Off Prototyping Days with the 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge Cohort


Preparing to launch student pilots by February 2017, the Education Design Lab is leading a Prototyping Day at each 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge cohort school this fall. Incorporating design thinking tools, the Lab-facilitated session invites each university design team to prototype several pilot options for its unique population of learners. This flexible, human-centered approach is helpful to each school; the University of Virginia may tailor its pilot to a residential campus of full-time undergraduates, and Bay Path University may emphasize the needs of employers and adult learners. At the same time, the range of pilot plans that emerge from Prototyping Day will inform the Lab which models are scalable and repeatable—what pilot components could be executed by a wide range of universities and learners.

Prototyping Days include: Empathy at Bay Path University; Creative Problem Solving at University Virginia; Inclusion & Equity at Vassar College; Collaboration at University of Arizona; Critical Thinking at Alma College and Hope College of Michigan Colleges Alliance; Oral Communication with IREX and two international universities, Makerere University in Uganda and the Magreb School of Business in Tunisia.

Designers at Bay Path University consider which learning and practice modules would work best for adult learners and employer partners.

​The University of Virginia design team plots the badge earning journey for a UVA student persona.

University Consortium Tackles Credentialing for 21st Century Skills

Now in Year Three of our badging challenge (recently featured on PBS NewsHour and The Chronicle of Higher Education), we’re announcing the launch of a full group of higher ed partners to co-create digital badges addressing the “soft skills gap” that employers have highlighted in recent years. This diverse cohort of private and public learning institutions highlights the importance of alignment among all types of colleges to solve for the rapidly changing needs of employers and of institutions as they re-imagine teaching and learning beyond the traditional classroom.

To learn more about our work with this university consortium as we tackle credentialing for 21st century skills, read our press release here.

The constellation of 21st century skills that employers care most about.

Bay Path Design Sprint

The Lab led a design sprint at Bay Path University, an institution dedicated to emerging women leaders and managers. This two-day event kicked-off a longer Design Challenge that will define and build a non-degree leadership program for prospective University partners. As part of the sprint, we brought together stakeholders at Bay Path to scope the project, ideate, and identify some initial concepts for further development. The concepts that emerge from this project will support new and emerging women leaders in business.

WGU Prototyping – Student Session

On October 18th, the Lab hosted a Student Prototyping Session in Salt Lake City as part of its ongoing design challenge with Western Governors University to design their peer-to-peer engagement model. Working with 13 students, the Lab tested some of the latest tools and services it has been prototyping with WGU. After getting feedback from the students, we presented our findings in order to advance these concepts from prototypes towards implementation.

Recent News & Events

2016 Creativity Matters Symposium

The deLaski Family Foundation hosted its 2016 Creativity Matters Symposium for artists, researchers, and innovators at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Often considered the domain of artists, creative problem solving has not been harnessed as a catalyst for learning in American education. This symposium seeks to map how creativity matters in school and in the workforce, to design education and assessment systems that honor, acknowledge, and mold creative problem solving for the next generation.

Lab Presents at i3

The Lab was honored to lead a session with national winners of the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund, known as “i3.” The session encouraged participants to consider and apply a more nuanced approach to innovation strategy, the popular Ten Types framework. The Lab is excited about holding more sessions like this one, as many participants said it helped push them out of their comfort zones into important discussions about financial sustainability, strategic partnerships and the importance of “brand,” to name a few areas.

The Academy, Cohort 2

Last month, the Lab proudly watched a second cohort of leaders graduate from the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, a partnership between Arizona State University and Georgetown University.

29 leaders from 24 universities worked on design projects anchored by the Lab’s hands-on approach to learning design thinking and structured innovation. Kathleen deLaski, Dawan Stanford, and Don Fraser led three teams of Academy participants through a six-month design process addressing three distinct higher education innovation questions posed by higher ed author Jeff Selingo, the Academy’s Director. The day before graduation, each team presented its prototype. Interestingly, while the design questions were quite different, all the prototypes addressed ways to capture and make sense of learning beyond the classroom.

Three themes emerged from the presentations and conversations:

Empathy Human-centered research methods (especially administrators and faculty interviewing students) broke down silos, making the work richer and deeper.

Efficiency Being forced to iterate, reframe, and rework helped them obtain faster, more effective results.

Practicality Many participants have already applied the methods back on campus and are beginning to iterate and pilot the design project prototypes.

We were delighted to hear these reactions and responses. A few years ago, the Lab delivered a co-design experience to develop a concept that became the Academy. We believed that one day we’d hear responses like these bring design-driven innovation to higher education. The Academy’s second cohort exceeded these expectations, and we’d like to thank them and our fellow Academy faculty for everything we’ve shared and explored together.

WGU Prototyping

Over the past several months, the Lab has partnered with Western Governors University, the leading competency-based education institution, to explore this design question: How might Western Governors University expand and deepen peer-to-peer connections among their students to drive increased satisfaction, learning, and retention rates? Answering this question has involved strategically gathering information, like interviewing students and stakeholders, and bringing together leaders and experts in various fields to collaborate together on this.

On June 30th, we employed a design tactic we call “Studio Team.” It’s supported by the notion that internal ideas can be made better if you bring in outside experts to push yourselves; provocateurs can accelerate the innovation curve. We brought together industry experts, WGU students and alumni, and members of the WGU Design Team to take the initial concepts and develop them into testable and buildable prototypes. As a special bonus, we were hosted by Michelson Runway, whose team and startups participated in the design session and added that much more perspective and richness to the conversation.

Concepts were displayed around the room and participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the ideas and were tasked with evaluating each concept against a set of design criteria set by the WGU Design Team. After reviewing the existing concepts, participants were asked to brainstorm and pitch new ideas to the group. Once everyone heard the new ideas, they formed teams to work on their favorite concept. The longest portion of time—and the real meat of the session—was devoted to assumption testing and building the prototypes.

At the end of the day, we collectively produced six prototypes for WGU: 3 from existing ideas or concepts and 3 brand new concepts generated during the course of the morning session. One expert commented at the Happy Hour afterwards, “That was so much fun to come together with a group of like-minded experts I’ve never met and be able to work together in an organized way with students toward solving a critical problem.”

Monument Academy

The Lab is partnering with Monument Academy, a public charter boarding school in DC dedicated to supporting students who have had or might have contact with the foster care system. The Academy is a semi-finalist for The Super School Project XQ grant, or #RethinkHighSchool. We hosted a design session with the Academy on the following design question:

How might Monument Academy facilitate student growth across its Five Pillars during 24-hour scholastic living? How might we create a schedule that balances fixed, recurring elements with the flexibility that each student needs? 

We hope our work together can help Monument Academy advance to the next stage of the XQ grant, a decision which should be announced this summer.

ASU GSV Summit

We co-led a session at the #ASUGSVSummit, with the Department of Ed’s Office of Technology.  We explored the future needs of the higher ed ecosystem through the use of personas, student journey mapping, and design criteria, asking the design question:

How might we design a user-centered approach to postsecondary education that optimizes success for the neediest students?

Our session got lots of people thinking, and asking for our tools and templates. We are currently organizing the templates and student journey mapping exercises for sharing with the Innovators’ Network…check back soon to download them!

21st Century Skills Employer Convening

The Lab has worked with 10 universities over two years to explore the potential of microcredentials as a currency to capture learning that goes beyond the current transcript.

This project places the Lab at the intersection of what higher education produces and what employers consume, a nexus that raises interesting questions:

What are the set of 21st century skills that transcend sectors? Can these skills be assessed (at scale) in ways that are meaningful to employers? Could 21st century skills badges be an access and equity tool that trumps GPA and alma mater?

The Lab recently co-hosted an employer design session with Connecting Credentials, a consortium of 140+ organizations, to pressure test badge prototypes from Georgetown University and George Mason University. We also facilitated a broader discussion on critical foundational skills, efforts to create competency maps and pilot designs.

The Lab to Present in “Shark Tank: Edu Edition” at SxSW Edu on March 10

The Education Design Lab has been selected to pitch a big idea in Shark Tank: Edu Edition, at SxSW Edu on March 10 in Austin, Texas. Presented by The Chronicle of Higher Education, this event is styled after the popular show Shark Tank.  A diverse field of judges—including Goldie Blumenstyk and Jeff Young of The Chronicle, Paul Freedman of Entangled Ventures, and Jason Jones of ProfHacker—will assess different efforts to transform higher education.

The Lab’s concept: Modeling the college coaching system for the “unbundled” degree.

Who will help students DIY their education, as learning providers and credentials proliferate outside and between traditional colleges and universities? The learner revolution is our name for the trend that students of the near future will feel more empowered, and thus, untethered from any one institution over the course of their learning journey. It means that while some students will still attend campus based universities, many more will piece together the most efficient, relevant, affordable path using the growing virtual international network of free/paid modules, great professors, micro-credentials, experiences, communities. But who will help them navigate? Research shows most of us need a coach to prod, to encourage, to curate, to get us to our goal. Should the government fund coaches, at least for Pell Grant eligible students? We say…let’s prototype this idea.

Academy for Innovation in Higher Education Leadership

Module 2: January 18–20, 2016

This week was the second module for 30 higher ed leaders who worked through new teaching and learning models at Arizona State using design thinking and leadership circle techniques. The Lab is designing year–long design projects for the group around three design questions:

Design Brief #1: College to Career

How might we create better pathways for students from college to career?

Design Brief #2: New Credentials

How might we create credentials that contribute to and express learning outcomes, informal learning and whole-student development?

Design Brief #3: 21st Century Student Learning

How might we build a learning environment that is responsive to how and where students learn?

Module 2 had us working through insights from each team’s human-centered research on their campuses and moving from structured brainstorming to concept development. Read more

Traditional Model Redesign Convening

December 15–16, 2015

Indianapolis, IN

How can growth-oriented public universities develop operating models that capitalize on advances in teaching and learning to expand capacity to serve and graduate more students of color and high-need students?
We worked with Lumina Foundation and HCM Strategies to create innovation tools and design capacity for 10 large, public universities. The new models will explore how universities might serve more students of color and high need students. Read more

Updates & Ideas

5 Ways Transfer Pathways Are Broken

Every year in the United States, hundreds of thousands of students enter a community college aspiring to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree one day; most will fail to do so. Community colleges continue to be popular entry-points into post-secondary education, and...

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What do learners want?

Why did MOOCs create such a stir a few years back? Why are bootcamps all the rage now? We are all looking for potential shortcuts to career success for the learner who doesn’t have access to or time for traditional learning. At least that’s the vision. (The current...

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The Evolution and Future of Bootcamp Education Models

The Lab is looking at bootcamps as a potential model for career pathways beyond coding. As the bootcamp movement grows in tech, it presents a range of possibilities for industries like healthcare and hospitality. Iron Yard, a bootcamp based in DC, presents a...

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KKathleen_deLaski-Education-Design-Labathleen deLaski

Founder & President

Kathleen founded the Education Design Lab after eight years on the Board of Virginia’s largest public university, George Mason. A social entrepreneur, she has launched or co-launched four non-profits in the past two decades, all related to improving the quality of education for non-elite students. With the Lab, she saw the need for a non-profit to help learning institutions and other players design education toward the future of a fast changing world.  As the Lab has supported some 60 universities, as well as employers and high schools, in their innovation design work, Kathleen has been asked to share learnings and ideas about the broken pipeline, 21st century skills and the learner-driven revolution around the world.

In addition, Kathleen serves as the president of the deLaski Family Foundation, a leading grantmaker in education reform and new pathways to the middle class. She founded and serves as board chair for EdFuel, a national non-profit working to build a diverse talent leadership pipeline for K-12 education. Previously, Kathleen created Sallie Mae’s award-winning college access foundation, co-founded Building Hope, a charter school facilities financing non-profit and helped Michelle Rhee create StudentsFirst, a national advocacy movement to improve school options and quality.

Spending five years at America Online, she developed the first interactive tools to engage the public online in elections and the political process and helped the biggest news organizations create digital brands. She and her boss, Steve Case, were named by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics among “25 People Changing the World.” Kathleen was named by President Clinton as Chief Spokesman for the Pentagon, where she oversaw the military’s worldwide public information team. She also spent 13 years as a TV journalist, including 5 years as an ABC News Washington correspondent.



Dawan Stanford, JD, PhD

Design Fellow

Dawan is a Design Fellow at the Lab, where he provides advice and insight to the Lab team on design-driven innovation. He was previously the Lab’s Founding Design Director, developing and evolving key design and innovation tools.

Dawan is currently President and Founder of Fluid Hive, and also serves as the Director of Design Thinking at Elon University, where he is developing and leading the university’s “Elon By Design” initiative. At Elon, Dawan works with students, faculty, and staff to help facilitate, advise and advance design thinking programming and application at the university, as well as to connect Elon with others around the country doing similar work.

Michelle Batt


Design Challenge Lead

Michelle is a Design Challenge Lead for the Lab’s Badging Challenge. Michelle is also the President of Lead by Experience, offering strategic and tactical consulting to help leadership teams across: business, health care and education improve their customer experience.

Through her coaching, Michelle loves to “gently” break up typical functional silos to stimulate collaboration and steer change management across organizations. She integrates new, cost effective, ways to capture and understand customers’ expectations, wants and needs.

Prior to establishing her own business, Michelle held executive positions in telecommunications at MCI and NII Holdings where she held the position of Senior Director of Customer Experience. Michelle earned a Masters of Arts degree in Education: Curriculum & Instruction from Loyola College in Maryland and completed an Executive Certification in Global Leadership from Georgetown University – the McDonough School of Business.


Karen Hold

Design Challenge Fellow

An “experience design” lead that thrives on helping clients innovate and adapt to a rapidly changing competitive landscape, Karen uses a practical approach to everyday innovation and employs best practices from the design toolkits of IDEO, Stanford dSchool, Pine & Gilmore, The Grove, Nancy Duarte, Gamestorming and others.

A Proctor & Gamble-trained brand marketer, Karen saw firsthand how P&G drove revenue and profit growth with innovation. Inspired by her experience, Karen founded her own small business, Broadband Publishing, earning an average net profit of 40% for the first 7 years through innovative marketing partnerships with Forbes and BusinessWeek magazines.

Karen holds a B.A. from Duke University in Public Policy Studies and an MBA from Georgetown – The McDonough School of Business.

Kevin Clark, PhD

Kevin Clark

Board Member

A Professor at George Mason University and current Director for the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity, Kevin brings a host of online and digital learning experience to Education Design Lab.

A leader in the role of gaming and media, in and out of school learning environments particularly with underserved populations, Kevin is expanding his work into children’s educational media, which includes television, video games, web-based environments, music, magazines, and books. He also serves as an advisor to PBS, Disney Junior, and the National Parks Service.

Kevin is a computer science graduate of North Carolina State University and a graduate of Penn State University where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Instructional Systems.

Phil Auerswald, PhD



Philip Auerswald is an associate professor at the School of Public Policy and (for 2013-2014) the Presidential Fellow at George Mason University. He is the author of The Coming Prosperity: How Entrepreneurs are Transforming the Global Economy.

Since 2010, Auerswald has served as an advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative on topics related to job creation, education, and market-based strategy. During 2011-2012 he was a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation. He is the co-founder and co-editor of Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, a quarterly journal from MIT Press about entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges, and an associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University.

Auerswald was also a lecturer and assistant director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government. In 2010 he organized the Presidents’ Symposium on the Future of Collegiate Education, held with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Washington and a B.A from Yale University.

Tyler Cowen, PhD



Tyler Cowen is Holbert L. Harris Professor of Economics at George Mason University and also Director of the Mercatus Center. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1987. His book The Great Stagnation: How America Ate the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better was a New York Times best-seller.

He was recently named in an Economist poll as one of the most influential economists of the last decade and Bloomberg BusinessWeek dubbed him “America’s Hottest Economist.” Foreign Policy magazine named him as one of its “Top 100 Global Thinkers” of 2011.

His book, An Economist Gets Lunch considers the economics of global food, and his very latest, Average is Over, looks at the implications of increasing inequality. He also co-writes a blog with Alex Tabarrokat and together they have initiated an on-line economics education project,

Erica Estrada



A Levinthal Fellow and lecturer in 2008 and 2009 at Stanford University’s esteemed school of design, Erica has worked on a variety of teams including one which redesigned the shifting experience for Volkswagen — developing a foot-operated gear-shifting system for concept vehicles. By night, she soldered LEDs and cut PVC and Coke cans with her Extreme Affordability Team as they worked toward the goal of providing affordable lighting products to villagers in Burma.

After graduating from Stanford, her night job became her day job and her lighting team traveled to Burma and Cambodia prototyping lights and experimenting with batteries. Within a year, d.light design won $250k in venture capital funding from a business plan competition, and subsequently garnered the resources to officially incorporate. Erica spent another year traveling the world with her trusty travel sheets, lighting up dark villages with LED lights as a product designer and co-founder of d.light design.

Erica became an expert on need finding methods, rough prototyping and unusual in-the-field experiences. During this immersion, she made sure to carefully document d.light’s users’ stories, some of which can be found at Returning to academia, Erica spent two years as the Director, of the Social Entrepreneurship Lab at the HassoPlattner Institute of Design at Stanford.

Raymond Rahbar



Raymond is CEO and Founder of UberOffices. UberOffices is a shared office space for early-stage technology and creative companies in the Washington, D.C.metropolitan area.

A founding member of the NexGen Angels, an investing club of more than 50 Washington, DC-area angels who are 40 or younger, Raymond also serves on the Board of Advisors for John Marshall Bank and is a partner in American Majestic, a privately held Northern Virginia based real estate development company specializing in luxury homes for high net worth clients.

Raymond holds a B.S. in Accounting and Finance from George Mason School of Management and a law degree from Syracuse University College of Law.

Oltac Unsal



As a Senior Advisor to the World Bank, Oltac has designed a World Bank angel co-investment fund and a technical assistance facility that creates or enhances angel networks, increases the “investability” of developing world tech entrepreneurs through an incubator and mentoring ecosystem. He also has spearheaded establishing new educational paradigms in the developing world.

A movie producer, past Microsoft and Cisco executive, Oltac also spent his early career in banking with Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse First Boston and today serves as a Managing Director of Smyrna Capital.

An entrepreneur and founding member of NextGen Angels, Oltac and NextGen always keep the entrepreneur top of mind. Their motto is, “We aim to benefit the companies we work with, help build the DC area startup ecosystem, become an investment partner of choice for top entrepreneurs, and make the process enjoyable for everyone.”

Jeffrey Selingo



Jeffrey Selingo, an author, columnist, and speaker, has spent his journalism career covering the business of colleges and universities worldwide.

His best-selling new book, College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, explores the college of tomorrow– how families will pay, what campuses will look like, how students will learn, and what skills will lead to success in the job market.

A contributing editor to The Chronicle of Higher Education and professor of practice at Arizona State University, Jeff’s work focuses on innovation in higher education and how students, parents, and employers should value one of the biggest purchases in life, the college degree.

Jeff is the former top editor of The Chronicle, where he worked for 16 years in a variety of reporting and editing roles. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Huffington Post, and he is a contributor to the LinkedIn Influencer program where you can follow his blog posts on higher education.

Jeff’s work has been honored with awards from the Education Writers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Associated Press. He has been the keynote speaker before dozens of associations and universities and appears regularly on regional and national radio and television programs, including NPR, ABC, and CBS.

Jeff received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ithaca College and a master’s degree in government from the Johns Hopkins University.

Donita Prakash


Director, Partnership & Development

Donita assists Education Design Lab in its efforts to develop and roll-out commercially viable solutions that have self-sustaining revenue streams. Prior to Education Design Lab, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of Acumen Solutions, Inc. where she helped the IT services firm double their revenues during her tenure.

Her team helped launch the award winning solution developed by Acumen Solutions for the K-12 education market working with leaders in charter schools in the District of Columbia and New York City Public Schools. Over the past 20 years, she has taken new products or services to market, many in their nascent stages (touch screen computing, mobile in the enterprise, cloud computing), across brands such as MCI, AOL, Dow Jones Telerate and Wells Fargo Bank.

Donita holds a B.A. in Economics from Mills College in Oakland, California.

Erik Heyer


Board Member

Erik Heyer is currently Executive in Residence at Bridges Ventures, a U.K.-based private equity investment manager that is entirely dedicated to sustainable and impact investing.  He is a respected education leader, business manager and social entrepreneur.

Erik is founder and chairman of Capital Education Group, an autism services organization that operates The Auburn School network and the Little Leaves behavioral therapy programs. He is also founder and chairman of The Siena School, which is a leader in programs for students with dyslexia and language-based learning differences.

Previously, Erik was on the founding team and management committee of Victory Schools, a national leader in the charter school and public education reform movements. Victory was recognized for its accomplishments by the U.S. Department of Education (twice), TIME magazine, and numerous national and local leaders. In 2003, he was awarded a Broad Fellowship in the Broad Foundation Superintendents Academy.

He began his career in finance with Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, before joining New Mountain Capital, a leading private equity investment firm. Mr. Heyer holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in systems engineering with high honors from the University of Virginia. He has served as a trustee or director of the International Dyslexia Association, the Institute for Excellence & Ethics, the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, and Calvert Education Services, one of the nation’s oldest homeschooling organizations and a leading online learning platform.

Maythana Paquete

May Paquete

Administrative Assistant & Design Associate

As Education Design Lab’s Service Design Associate, Sarah provides support across several Lab projects. Trained as an industrial and interaction designer, she is assisting the development and execution of the Lab’s crowdsourcing initiative to future higher education ecosystems. She is also lending her design thinking, graphic design, and storytelling expertise to projects such as the 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge.   

Sarah worked at Hallmark Cards Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri as an Industrial Design Intern. During that time, she used design thinking methods to develop new products areas for their Christmas Line and assisted in the re-design of a customization ordering software. While at Syracuse University, she led the school’s chapter of Industrial Designer Society of America for two years and held design challenges and design thinking workshops for students.

Sarah is a graduate of the Industrial and Interaction Design Program at Syracuse University. She is looking forward to using her skills in design thinking, user-centered design, and experience design to do work in the social realm. 


Catherine_Wallwork-Education-Design-LabCatherine Wallwork

Researcher & Community Builder

As Education Design Lab’s Researcher & Community Builder, it is Catherine’s job to make sure that the Lab stays up to date on all emerging higher education innovations, thought leaders, and challenges facing today’s students. She also manages the Lab’s Innovator Network, where she helps foster a community of thinkers and doers committed to improving higher education through design.

Catherine is an experienced nonprofit fundraising and communications professional. She started her career in San Diego at Invisible Children, where she oversaw a portfolio of over 12,000 individual and recurring donors, and contributed to a number of successful online advocacy and fundraising campaigns. More recently, Catherine has worked as a communications and development consultant to a number of D.C.-based nonprofits. Immediately prior to joining the Lab, Catherine worked in development and marketing at Saylor Academy, a nonprofit provider of tuition-free online courses.

Catherine holds a B.A. in English and Africana Studies from SUNY Geneseo, and is committed to striking the perfect balance of innovation and best practices (and excellent grammar) to build momentum for nonprofits.

Lou Pugliese


lou headshot

Board Member

Lou is currently Senior Innovation Fellow at Arizona State University and Managing Director of the Teaching and Learning Action Lab. Previously, Lou was the President of Quantum Thinking and Senior Fellow for Saylor Academy. Over the past twenty years, he has developed a strong track record managing growth stage businesses and acquiring and developing numerous education enterprises. Lou is a noted international speaker on educational technology and has addressed a wide range of issues in education and education policy. Prior to the recent acquisition by Blackboard, he was the former Chairman and CEO of Moodlerooms.

Prior to Moodlerooms, Lou was President of Learning Diagnostics Inc., an education a consulting practice, and vice president of corporate development and company director at Educational Testing Service (ETS).  Prior to ETS, Lou was an entrepreneur in residence at Novak Biddle Venture Partners, an equity financing firm established in 1997 to provide assistance to the management of young, information technology businesses. There he shaped the strategy for private equity investments in early stage educational technology companies. While working with Novak Biddle, Pugliese was named CEO of AnswerLogic, a software company that delivers online question answering solutions for business through its innovative natural language processing technology. Lou’s affiliation with Novak Biddle began with the firm’s early stage lead position in Blackboard, Inc., where he was founding CEO. Under his leadership, Blackboard experienced 500 percent annual revenue growth rates, international customer expansion to more than three million individuals teaching and learning on Blackboard, the roll out of multiple products and services and attainment over $50 million in private financing.


Don Fraser, Jr.Don_Fraser_Jr-Education-Design-Lab

Higher Ed ReDesigner

As Education Design Lab’s Higher Ed ReDesigner, Don connects higher education institutions with entrepreneurial start-ups to design new education models for student success, lifelong learning and workforce readiness. Don reimagines and disrupts higher education by designing with students, higher education and industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and others. Don leads design challenges, design challenge cohorts, and delivers other Lab projects targeting new higher ed models. He is currently leading the Badging Challenge Design Cohort.

Don is a nationally recognized expert in postsecondary planning and college success. He acutely understands of the student experience, as well as ways in which schools can develop innovative programs in order to foster student success, especially for those from historically underrepresented populations. He deeply believes in the combination of technology and interpersonal relationships as a means to improve student outcomes.

Prior to his work at the Lab, Don founded CollegeSnapps, a Washington, D.C. based education technology startup company. He also served as the Director of Education for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), where he created educational opportunities for high school counselors and college admission professionals including Critical Components, NACAC’s first new conference in over 20 years.

Don brings his roots in psychology and school counseling and history of transforming student perspectives and needs into action to the Lab’s design thinking-driven process. Don received his B.A. in Psychology from Boston College and his Master’s of Education in School Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, where he is also working on his Doctorate in Leadership in Urban Schools. He makes a point of maintaining his connection to students, through his teaching at Johns Hopkins University and Boston University and work directly with students and families.


Gabriella Schiro 

Challenge Coordinator

As the Education Design Lab’s Challenge Coordinator, Gabriella provides support for the 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge and the Connected Pathways initiative—focusing particularly on project coordination, communications, and session planning and execution.

Gabriella has a multi-faceted background in both design and administration. She began her career in 2011 as the Exhibitions Marketing Assistant at International Arts & Artists, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing and promoting the arts both nationally and internationally. After serving in as a manager at several art- and design-oriented organizations and businesses, she joined the Education Design Lab as the Graphic Designer & Office Manager. In that position, she worked across many Lab internal and external projects—designing print and digital materials and supporting all aspects of the Lab’s operations.

A graduate of Gettysburg College with a bachelor’s in Studio Art and Religious Studies, Gabriella not only brings a strong understanding of design principles to the Lab’s projects, but also a passion for interdisciplinary thinking, personal narrative, and social design.



Laurence Roth

Chief Growth Officer

Larry is Chief Growth Officer at the Education Design Lab, developing and executing partnership strategies to maximize the Lab’s mission to support underserved student populations in the “Learner Revolution.” At the Lab, he also advises both intrepreneurs and entrepreneurs designing new programs and services for the post-secondary market. Larry brings 25 years of experience leading and advising start-up/early stage companies in the digital media and education technology sectors. He was most recently at the national non-profit College Summit, where he launched and operated a national initiative designed to dramatically re-envision the organization’s program and business models.

Previously, Larry was a senior executive with Agile Mind, an early stage provider of digital mathematics programs for grades 8-12 in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to his work in education, he co-founded Cinea, Inc., a digital rights management company, which was recognized as one of the top Virginia start-ups in 2004. After selling the company to Dolby Laboratories (NYSE: DLB) he continued there as a vice president of marketing and business development. Previously, Larry worked as an executive with AOL, Viacom and MGM/UA and was one of the pioneers in the media industry’s transition to digital publishing and distribution.

Larry has been recognized for his work with young entrepreneurs in the Fairfax County Public Schools, and was a finalist for the FAST 50 award, honoring the leading entrepreneurs in the State of Virginia. He also sits on the Board of Innovate and Educate, a national organization dedicated to developing alternative employment pathways for underserved populations in the U.S and around the world. Larry holds an M.B.A. from the Andersen School at UCLA and a bachelor’s degree in Science, Technology and Society from Vassar College.


Michael Meotti photo-2

Michael Meotti

Higher Ed Fellow

Mike brings extensive experience in higher education policy, innovation and management to Education Design Lab’s work.   Mike has a broad perspective on the challenges facing colleges and universities based on his past leadership positions in state government, nonprofit organizations and higher education systems. He has led transformation initiatives in all of these sectors.

Mike served as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Higher Education and Executive Vice President and chief operating officer of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education. 

Mike was a member of the Executive Committee and Vice Chair of the Federal Relations Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO).  He led the Connecticut delegation in the National Governors Association Best Practices Academy “Complete to Compete” and in Complete College America.  Michael was also active in the state policy track of Achieving the Dream and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition for the Common Core Standards.  He earned his J.D. and B.S. degrees from Georgetown University.

Prior to his work in higher education, Mike led several nonprofit organizations that provided services addressing the needs of many “first generation” and returning adult students.



Dawan Stanford, JD, PhD

Director, Design Strategy & Operations

As Education Design Lab’s Director of Design Strategy and Operations, Dawan develops and evolves the Lab’s design thinking and innovation tools, oversees its design challenges, and has strategic and overall operations responsibilities.

Driven by ideas from design and media theory, Dawan earned his Ph.D. from the European Graduate School. His research, teaching and published work explore how we learn, create and communicate. A Berkeley Law graduate, Dawan spent the early internet boom in Silicon Valley working with start-ups and multinationals and played several legal roles internationally for Symantec Corporation and others.

Prior to joining the Lab, Dawan ran a design thinking consultancy and a management consultancy combining design strategy and gerontology. Dawan also lead Design Thinking: DC, a growing community of more than 2,000 designers, innovators and entrepreneurs coming together in Washington D.C. to make practical use of design thinking for business, government and nonprofits.


Alexander Williams

ReDesign Associate

As Education Design Lab’s ReDesign Associate, Alexander reinvents higher education through project coordination and institutional collaboration, with a particular focus on engaging the Innovator Network and fueling the Lab’s impact engine. He envisions higher education as a mechanism for empowerment, developed from working with institutional consortia in Virginia, New Jersey, Kentucky, and now DC. 

Alexander first became exposed to the intricacies of higher education while serving as a Student Representative on the Board of Visitors for George Mason University. Recognizing that the individuals involved in the education process produce the value associated with that education, Alexander took the leap to become one of those involved individuals and began a career in education. As a graduate student at Teachers College of Columbia University studying for a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration, he published research with fellow students and faculty on education leadership models and coordinated special projects for the New Jersey Consortium of Community Colleges. After graduating, Alexander moved to Louisville, Kentucky to complete a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Serving under the leadership of 55,000 Degrees, he analyzed student success data for Jefferson Community & Technical College and organized community collaboration efforts around educational persistence for the Louisville metro area.
A proud native of DC, Alexander brings to the Lab his passion for a higher education experience that empowers individuals personally and socially. He is excited to be involved in the questions related to skills badging, traditional model redesign, and the overall work of the Lab.


Binh Thuy Do

Director of Projects

Binh brings a unique set of design experiences, strategic planning and project management skills to the Education Design Lab. Her work engagements have spanned both K-12 and higher education; in the latter, she has done extensive work leading strategic master planning efforts with a number of higher education institutions throughout California.

Binh uses a practical approach to everyday innovation and employs the Lab’s design process, methods and tools with an eye toward expanding the range of the possible while remaining grounded in the real world constraints. Solid innovation requires both generating new ways of responding to unmet human needs and operating model innovation based on understanding how higher education institutions work. Binh excels at weaving this balance into the Lab’s work.

Binh is deeply passionate about reimagining education to meet the needs of all stakeholders. Her interest in learning innovation extends to her own educational career: she received her MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University; a leading program that emphasized extensive online team collaboration on case study work, mirroring the experience of those on campus.


Ricardo Goncalves

Designer In Residence

Ricardo is a design strategist, knowledge broker and social entrepreneur working in the intersection of design, education and technology. He holds a MFA in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons The New School for Design (New York). His graduation thesis project, entitled Flip it Forward, explored the future of learning in K-12 education through design in contexts as diverse as India, The U.S. and China. Flip it Forward has been awarded by The New School and selected by the Unreasonable Institute as an innovative approach to re-imagining education. 

Ricardo’s work is an attempt to collaboratively respond to pressing social changes—moving from problem-solving into dreaming, imagining and co-creative spaces. He believes that in order to scale positive social change, organizations are required to shift their routines, cultures and ways of working. 

Core topics of expertise: knowledge dissemination (capacity building, networks); design-thinking; design of learning environments; open innovation; systems thinking; social-emotional learning, and social innovation. For further information about his work:


Sarah Folger

Service Design Summer Associate

As Education Design Lab’s Service Design Associate, Sarah provides support across several Lab projects. Trained as an industrial and interaction designer, she is assisting the development and execution of the Lab’s crowdsourcing initiative to future higher education ecosystems. She is also lending her design thinking, graphic design, and storytelling expertise to projects such as the 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge.   

Sarah worked at Hallmark Cards Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri as an Industrial Design Intern. During that time, she used design thinking methods to develop new products areas for their Christmas Line and assisted in the re-design of a customization ordering software. While at Syracuse University, she led the school’s chapter of Industrial Designer Society of America for two years and held design challenges and design thinking workshops for students.

Sarah is a graduate of the Industrial and Interaction Design Program at Syracuse University. She is looking forward to using her skills in design thinking, user-centered design, and experience design to do work in the social realm. 

Kevin Clark, PhD

Kevin Clark

Board Member

A Professor at George Mason University and current Director for the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity, Kevin brings a host of online and digital learning experience to Education Design Lab.

A leader in the role of gaming and media, in and out of school learning environments particularly with underserved populations, Kevin is expanding his work into children’s educational media, which includes television, video games, web-based environments, music, magazines, and books. He also serves as an advisor to PBS, Disney Junior, and the National Parks Service.

Kevin is a computer science graduate of North Carolina State University and a graduate of Penn State University where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Instructional Systems.


Brian LeDuc

Education Designer

As an Education Designer, Brian manages and executes new education model design challenges with education institutions and foundations, supporting the Lab’s knowledge management for innovations in higher education, and contributes to the design and ongoing development of the Lab’s design process, methods and experiences.

With students at the center, Brian utilizes his background in psychology, student development, and
experience across a variety of educational contexts to explore innovative education models alongside a wide range of stakeholders.

Prior to joining the lab, Brian led operations for a coding bootcamp, establishing the campus operations in its’ permanent location, expanding program offerings, and growing its’ enrollment pipeline while deepening its’ roots in the DC community. Previously, Brian supported institutions emergence into national leaders in the area of student success at EAB, guiding project management for advising technologies, implementation of student success best practices, and analysis of historic graduation trends to identify areas of opportunity in support of institutional goals. Working on campus at several universities in first year programs, orientation, residence life, and leadership education, Brian draws from a breadth of institutional contexts and perspectives on campus and beyond with volunteer experiences across NASPA, ACPA, and NACA.

To maintain his engagement with students, Brian serves as a Lead Facilitator for the Kiwanis International Key Leader program designed to enhance leadership skills and personal awareness through weekend retreats for high school students. Brian earned his Psychology degree from Roger Williams University, where he continues to serve on the Alumni Board, and his Masters from Texas A&M University in Educational Administration while serving as a member of the Board of Directors to the National Association for Campus Activities.


May Paquete 

Design Associate and Administrative Assistant

As Education Design Lab’s Design Associate and Administrative Assistant, May designs visual explanations, information graphics, and print and digital materials while maintaining a productive office environment. She supports all aspects of the Lab’s operations, from design challenges to design facilitation.

May graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Health in 2012 with a degree in Behavioral & Community Health. After working in public health policy for three years, May became a 2015-2016 Health for America Fellow at MedStar Health, where she was challenged to use design strategy to create an innovative solution for improving outcomes for people living with type 2 diabetes. The fellowship ignited her passion for training in human-centered design. May graduated from University of Maryland in Behavioral and Community Health, where she also worked on Sister to Sister: Life Choices, an intervention targeted to reduce obesity rates in African-American women.

Kris Clerkin


Board Member

Kris is Managing Director at Volta Learning Group. Volta Learning Group is a consulting and advisory firm that catalyzes new learning models in postsecondary education. Kris was the founding Executive Director of College for America (CfA) at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).  CfA is the workforce-focused unit of SNHU offering affordable, ($3,000/year), competency-based Certificate, AA, and BA programs that enrolled nearly 5,000 students and 1,000 graduates after three years.  Under Kris’ leadership, CfA introduced an innovative project-based learning curriculum, built a learning management platform on Salesforce, introduced new student support models, innovated to drive down costs, and used data in new ways to help working adult learners be successful.  CfA introduced an innovative business-to-business partnership model that engaged over 100 employers, non-profits, and public agencies in sponsoring its programs for their employees.  Kris has many years of senior leadership experience in the higher education industry including roles as President of Houghton Mifflin’s Higher Education Division and General Manager of Wolters Kluwer Legal Education. She has an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School.


KKathleen_deLaski-Education-Design-Labathleen deLaski

Founder & President

Kathleen founded the Education Design Lab after eight years on the Board of Virginia’s largest public university, George Mason. A social entrepreneur, she has launched or co-launched four non-profits in the past two decades, all related to improving the quality of education for non-elite students. With the Lab, she saw the need for a non-profit to help learning institutions and other players design education toward the future of a fast changing world.  As the Lab has supported some 60 universities, as well as employers and high schools, in their innovation design work, Kathleen has been asked to share learnings and ideas about the broken pipeline, 21st century skills and the learner-driven revolution around the world.

In addition, Kathleen serves as the president of the deLaski Family Foundation, a leading grantmaker in education reform and new pathways to the middle class. She founded and serves as board chair for EdFuel, a national non-profit working to build a diverse talent leadership pipeline for K-12 education. Previously, Kathleen created Sallie Mae’s award-winning college access foundation, co-founded Building Hope, a charter school facilities financing non-profit and helped Michelle Rhee create StudentsFirst, a national advocacy movement to improve school options and quality.

Spending five years at America Online, she developed the first interactive tools to engage the public online in elections and the political process and helped the biggest news organizations create digital brands. She and her boss, Steve Case, were named by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics among “25 People Changing the World.” Kathleen was named by President Clinton as Chief Spokesman for the Pentagon, where she oversaw the military’s worldwide public information team. She also spent 13 years as a TV journalist, including 5 years as an ABC News Washington correspondent.

Ryan Craig



University Ventures Co-Founder Ryan Craig’s commentary on “where the puck is going” in higher education regularly appears in Forbes, EdSurge, Inside Higher Education, TechCrunch and VentureBeat, among others. He is the author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), which profiles the emergence of shorter, less expensive pathways to education credentials – and the coming shift toward competency-based education and hiring.

Prior to founding University Ventures, Ryan led the Education & Training sector at Warburg Pincus from where he was the founding Director of Bridgepoint Education (NYSE: BPI), one of the largest online universities in the United States. Ryan has also served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, UCLA extension, and as Vice President for Columbia University’s online education company. From 2004 to 2010, Ryan founded and built Wellspring, a national network of treatment programs for overweight and obese children, adolescents, and young adults. He began his career as a consultant with McKinsey & Co.

As Managing Director of University Ventures, Ryan leads the firm’s investments in Revature, Credly, Portfolium, ProSky, and ReUp Education. He received bachelor’s degrees summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University, and his law degree from the Yale Law School.