16th, April 2014, Vihara Campus: The Vihara Campus housing READâ€™s home office is usually a buzz with events and activities, just a month back it was the venue for READâ€™s own launch. However, today was special, today was a check on READâ€™s fundamental beliefs. Can and will people collaborate, ideate and work together to improve the Early Reading scenario in India?
As the clock struck 1:30pm, participants started to pour in. The READ Team had exhibited their seven steps to Reading in the form of seven individual exhibits distributed around the floor. Between these exhibits were random tables with stationary and movable chairs sprinkled here and there. White boards had printed charts pinned to them and A3 Ideation sheets lay in a neat bundle on each table. The curious expressions made by participants as they meandered around added to the teamâ€™s excitement. Each exhibit described a challenge supported by ground realities that made reading difficult for many children in India, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid. For more information on the Seven Steps to Reading published by READ Alliance click here
The essence behind any innovation workshop is that of collaboration, what one can do alone, one will do better with others. This concept, when applied to early reading, means that we can address diverse challenges with multiple solutions. It is hoped that each participant will bring to the floor their own perspective, skill set, knowledge and experience.
To introduce the idea of group brainstorming, the program began with Aditya Dev Sood highlighting the thumb rules for productive brainstorming and quick conceptualization. Such as, â€œBuild on othersâ€™ ideasâ€, â€œDonâ€™t shoot down ideas- your own or those of othersâ€ and â€œBe open to thoughts that may seem crazy at first, but may give fodder for thought to the groupâ€.
As every brainstorming has an objective, this particular Innovation Workshop had one too! The READ Team designed the agenda keeping in mind their latest Early Grade Reading Innovation Challenge. A challenge, to make a difference in the Early Reading scenario in India. If you have an idea, concept, pilot or strategy, hurry up and send in your proposals by May 13th, if it gets selected you may get partial or full funding. For more information,Â click here
The Workshop consisted of 5 major stages,
Stage One: Participants were allocated numbers which aligned to one of the seven steps. As groups formed around each step, discussions ensued. Participants were eager to share their interpretation of the step, their experiences and insights. The enthusiasm and energy in the room was evident. Each group then gave a 60 seconds presentation on their challenge area in front of a larger audience.
Stage Two: Participants were given an A3 template that asked for a name, tagline, idea and resources available or wanted. Each participant then self ideated on a solution to address one or more of the seven challenges. Post this, every idea was tweeted and displayed.
Stage Three: Participants were asked to vote for their top 5 ideas. Once the voting was done which wasnâ€™t an easy task as there were some amazing concepts, READ team shortlisted the top 5 most popular ideas.
Stage Four: 5 groups were made corresponding to the five top ideas. Participants were asked to join one group based on their interest and collaboration potential. Each group was given an A1 template and requested to improvise the idea farther.Â This was followed by a group presentation of the final concepts and strategies.
Stage Five: As each team presented, their ideas were critically reviewed by the audience followed by a Q&A session. It is hoped that this constructive criticism will help individuals understand what is needed to create rocking proposals with awesome ideas that are both meaningful and sustainable.
The highlight of the workshop was when one of the participants, who herself was a child demonstrated why her lesser fortunate friends should read. From her heartfelt plea, it was evident that when it comes to empathy, we adults still have a very long way to go!
The workshop proved to be quite an eye openerÂ – Kudos to all who participated! Not only did it manage to churn out some brilliant ideas, it also raised the bar for the next two workshops in Mumbai and Bangalore. More on them later!