Collaborative, interactive and highly customizable, IdeaMachine allows educators to send challenges to students’ mobile devices to prompt a dialogue and ignite fun bouts of brainstorming!

Developed in partnership with one of Wharton’s most innovative professors, Ethan Mollick, IdeaMachine one of the Learning Lab’s most universally applicable teaching tools. This easy-to-use, web-based platform enables instructors to create engaging lessons around key topics and questions, while fostering an active social learning space that encourages peer-to-peer interaction.

IdeaMachine’s point-and-click “wizard” technology is designed to prompt particular pedagogical outcomes by sending students brief challenges that they answer via their mobile devices, responding with text, pictures, conceptual maps, or video.

Within minutes, you can launch a collaborative educational environment where classmates interact with the answers of their peers – evaluating, commenting, voting, and reacting to one another’s responses as well as instructor feedback.

Combined with IdeaMachine’s analytics, this platform allows instructors to:

  • Assess and evaluate student performance, both to understand gaps in knowledge and for grading purposes;
  • Promote metacognitive thinking, creative problem-solving, and a shared understanding of the underlying course material;
  • Focus class discussion on the most important and relevant points, using “challenge” responses to connect what students know with what you want them to learn.


Check out some of the challenges Prof. Mollick used in one of his Entrepreneurship classes for generating ideas about 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!] 

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. 


If you’re interested in using IdeaMachine or would like more information, email the Learning Lab team.