Custom Design Challenges


The Lab creates a structured process to frame your innovation question(s) as a design challenge. After identifying the design question, we engage stakeholders, conduct user research, create options, and facilitate rapid prototyping and experimentation. We use a mix of design thinking and other innovation methods to make sure the needs of people related to your challenge are woven into practical solutions and approaches. Depending on engagement length and your needs, the Lab can help develop an implementation plan to take your vetted prototype to scale.



How might we bake a for credit apprenticeship into a liberal arts degree?

How might we help veterans shorten their path to cybersecurity degrees?

How might we capture and credential 21st century (soft) skills in ways that are meaningful to employers?


Sample Challenge Partners

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Cohort Design Challenges


For new trends or challenges facing university leaders and educators, we collaborate with multiple design partners to harness their thinking through a heavily facilitated 6-month to 2-year peer-learning community. This approach works well when institutions want to learn alongside peers and test how they might respond to or adopt new ideas or models. In cohort design challenges, we combine qualitative and quantitative research with design methods to generate new options, and then co-create and test prototypes that help schools, foundations, policymakers and/or other stakeholders accelerate action plans and pilots.



21st Century Skills Badging Challenge

Traditional Model Redesign (Designing new student-centered operating models for growth-oriented public universities in partnership with Lumina Foundation and HCM Strategists)


If you have a recommendation for a future cohort challenge, or are interested in getting involved with an existing challenge, get in touch here.

Design Facilitation

Through single or multiple design events, the Lab offers ways of helping institutions rapidly: identify, understand, express innovation needs and opportunities; generate, test and shape new ideas; and make decisions about what works and how to operationalize it. Our design facilitation typically assists design partners in one or more of the following areas:


Stakeholder Engagement

Needs Assessment/Prototyping & Pressure-testing Ideas

Project Scoping & Acceleration


Sample Partners:

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Design Thinking Training


For a more direct learning experience, the Lab can provide design thinking training in a direct service or train-the-trainer model. This training can be customized to your specific audience and offered as professional development for staff, innovation team members or students.


Learning Outcomes:

The Lab’s training provides five learning outcome levels.

Level 1 — Design thinking awareness: defining it, exploring its process and methods, connecting it to your work

Level 2 — Awareness, plus ability to use discrete methods in guided innovation work

Level 3 — Ability to use a design process and supporting method set in your own innovation work

Level 4 — Ability to lead others through a multi-part design process and/or teach design thinking to students

Level 5 — Ability to implement the results of a design process you’ve lead, i.e. connecting the design process to implementation strategies.


Our training engagements begin with developing an understanding of the level that is right for you.


Sample Partners

Georgetown logo     ASU png     The Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership

Innovation Workshops


Individuals and teams often want to learn our methods and apply them to accelerating adaptation as students learning needs’ and the economy change. These sessions are appropriate for partners who want to be exposed to a variety of innovation approaches including, design thinking, rapid prototyping, lean startup and innovation framework mapping. We include an interactive design session to look at how you might use these processes and methods in your team’s specific innovation work.


Sample Partners

masthead-logo    Student Leadership Program

Advisory Services


The Lab is available to serve as a trusted adviser and thought partner. Also, if you’re working to address an innovation challenge, but could benefit from additional connections, expert opinions and experiences, or stakeholder engagement beyond your own network, the Lab’s Innovator Network can be leveraged to support your work. By drawing upon our Innovator Network, a community of academic change-makers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders, we can connect design partners and others to the Lab’s higher education innovation, student success and design strategy learning and activities.

Interested in partnering with the Lab?

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.


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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.

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