Student Innovation Teams: Developing A Culture of Innovation To Drive 21st Century Change


Nicole Snedden
Minnetonka Public Schools

Jeff Erickson
Minnetonka High School Principal
Minnetonka Public Schools


1 Learning Units (LU)

How applies to HSW:

Over the past ten years, crowd-based innovation programs have become the new normal for industry-leading companies. Tapping into the cognitive surplus of front-line employees has proven to not only deliver valuable small, medium, and big ideas that improve internal practices or stimulate new market opportunities, these innovation programs also help improve workplace culture and staff morale as all members of the organization have equal access to the future design and direction of the organization. At Minnetonka (MN) High School, innovation has transformed the learning environment based on a structured, school-based innovation program that has the potential to be customized and implemented in a variety of school environments. Much like the way that the PLC movement addressed an important need for organized collaboration around student achievement data, the emerging innovation movement has the potential to spark new ways of thinking about classroom environments, learning experiences, and programming that inspires 21st century learning. Innovation programming elevates the role of the classroom teacher to that of a key designer for the transformed school cultures that will emerge, simultaneously improving the morale of front-line staff while also reassuring employers, politicians, and parents that their educators are responding with agility and confidence to the changing dynamics of the 21st century. School leaders in Minnetonka have not only engaged staff in the new innovation program, they have also engaged the students as partners and co-learners in our Design Thinking journey. Join us for a discussion about how innovation programming has transformed a high school staff, a school community, and all 3,200 students in a way that has uniquely positioned the students, the school, and the district for 21st century success.

Learning Objectives:
  • Learn how innovative programming can elevate the role of the classroom teacher to that of a designer.;
  • xplore how to empower students to be co-designers in the school culture by embracing innovation and Human Centered Design.
  • Learn systems and processes for teaching students the skills involved in innovation.;
  • Learn how to make existing schools future ready.
Primary Competency:

Educational Visioning: Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educational leadership, programming, teaching, learning, planning and facility design. Establishes credibility with educators, community members and design professionals while conceiving and leading a community-based visioning process. Demonstrates the ability to articulate the impact of learning environments on teaching and learning and uses that ability to facilitate a dialogue that uncovers the unique needs and long-range goals of an educational institution and its stakeholders – translating that into an actionable written/graphic program of requirements for the design practitioner.

Primary Domain:

Learning: Content of this session/workshop will focus on how we learn and/or how the physical environment responds specifically to various methods of instruction, pedagogies, learning styles, or learning trends.

Secondary Domain:

Process: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the importance of quality processes and practices implemented by the project team when creating learning environments. The who, what, when and how of various disciplines and applications.

Additional information:

Student Innovation Teams is a unique experience that was developed in our school district in 2016-17. Students have already been presenting and working with other professionals (ex: General Mills) in highlighting their work with Human Centered Design and   innovation. If accepted, we would also like to bring a student or students with us to help present.