Idea Machine

This highly customizable tool allows educators to send text & email challenges to students to prompt a dialogue about ideas related to the course

IdeaMachine prompts activity outside the classroom by texting and emailing students a question or challenge that relates to a particular subject matter they are exploring in class. From their smartphone, tablet or PC, students can submit a text, photo or video response. Though IdeaMachine can be used for a number of purposes, it was originally designed for helping students practice idea generation techniques, and allow the instructor to use the work of students to illustrate important idea generation concepts.

How it Works

  • Students opt to receive emails or texts
  • Educator configures custom challenges for their class
  • On the challenge trigger date/time, students are notified of the challenge
  • Once submitted, they can view all public responses from other students in the class
  • Educator dashboard for sharing responses in class to prompt further discussion

  • Following are some example Challenges used in a Wharton Entrepreneurship Class for generating ideas for new products and services. In this use, the challenges help students to examine trends and look for new innovations.

    Challenge 1 Saturday at 2 pm
    Take a picture or video of something that represents a trend or product category that is relatively unpopular or rare now, but which you think will become more popular in the future. Please also provide a short (few words) description.

    Challenge 2 Monday at noon
    Think back on a big problem that you have encountered recently as part of your job (or, if you can’t think of a job-related problem, it could be as part of a hobby or other interest). In a few sentences, what was it? [Please make sure that you are okay sharing this problem with others in the class] (text only)

    Challenge 3 Monday at 5:15 pm
    Assume that you have a 3-D printer that can make any object of one square foot in size or smaller for about $4 an object. Assume it takes 5 minutes to print each object, that the object is in color, and that they can be semi-durable (so no heavy-duty mechanical parts). Take a picture or video of something that you think could be the basis of a profitable business with this technology. Please also provide a short (few words) description.

    Challenge 4 Wednesday at noon
    Send Collaboration for Challenge 2 response (original response sent at random to a classmate) (text only response)
    Assuming unlimited resources, how would you address this issue?