How Can We Teach Innovation Skills?


Let’s have fun learning about this now ubiquitous App Instagram evolved, and then we will examine how we can adopt elements of their success story as we begin our first steps in our own project-based learning journey. So how can we use this Instagram’s story to teach the dynamic disposition and positive attitude a student needs to cultivate in a project-based learning classroom?

It is very fascinating to hear the early iterations of Instagram (see more here: and then realize all the changes they made to make the app what it is as a working app today. That process that is narrated here is design thinking, which is a process we will explore more this year.

Perhaps an important moment in their start-up was when they followed the advice to ask their users about what they enjoyed about their app rather than investing time into wondering what others who are not using the app would want. What did they learn from this part of the process?

(Podcast Time: 6:30) Isn’t it fascinating that the best thing for any entrepreneurial is failure? The founders of Instagram cite Eric Ries and his ideas about the process of a lean startup. “Don’t ask why people don’t sue your startup. Ask why people who continue to use your start up use your startup.” 

(Podcast Time: 8:00) One of the founders tells a story of being burnt out and going on a break. Does he really take a break? Why type of thinking does he do on this “break” and how does it help the next iteration of the product of Instagram?

(Podcast Time: 9:00) Style topic. Did you notice how the music delivers a great downbeat when the divergent thinking that one of the founders has when his then girlfriend and now wife provides an insight while walking on the beach?

(Podcast Time 12:00) Just appreciate this moment. No response necessary. This is my hook for our audience!. “It was trial by fire; so many chances to fail. Kept working; all nighters. The amount we learned in that first year was crazy. It was fives years of college in one.” I would make this the hook because I’m an educator, and the producer here chose a more entertaining hook.

(Podcast Time: 17:30) There is a great conversation about how the story of success is never linear. It’s always dynamic, an up-and-down journey. Reflect on this moment and also reflect on how the founders keep their eye on the experience of the user. Do you have a personal success story that was not linear and had several “false starts” along the way before you achieve a degree of success? Write a 3-6 sentences here about that experience. We’ll share these moments in class and expand more on them.

(Podcast Time: 23:00) Around minute 23 they discuss the currency that feeds an entrepreneur. Explain in your own words this experience and its value. Then reflect on our course description and explain what experience will make our experience valuable.

(Podcast Time: 24:00) They reveal another great moment where they learned a lot through failure. This moment had to do with a mistake. What was the mistake? Could the mistake been avoidable? What else did they learn about the relationship they had with her users?

What do you think of the founders’ thesis about luck and talent? What role do resilience, grit, and optimism play in capitalizing on luck?


7 thoughts on “How Can We Teach Innovation Skills?

  1. rtettemer

    I agree with the founders’ thesis on luck because a lot of success comes from people capitalizing on their lucky moments. If you have enough resilience and grit to fight through the bad times, good luck will eventually come. If you have enough optimism to continue with that good luck and capitalize on it when it hits you, you will find success.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. burch2016

    He says that the best currency is when someone loves the product that is made and he passed a man in San Francisco using his app and that made him feel great. When we do our presentation to the people of Suffield, I think it will be a similar feeling because we will hopefully be telling them something that no one knows about the town and telling someone something new is a great feeling.


  3. Chase M

    They talk about how they sold their company for $1 billion, but the currency that means the most to them is seeing people actually using their product. In our class when we find new information that has not been written about, it will be very exciting. Our “currency” will be when we present our newly found information to the citizens that come to our presentation and when we see how they care about the research that we had done.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Owen

    Do you feel that anyone can make Instagram or is it just about luck?

    The currency is seeing someone use your product on their own. They passed someone who was using their app and actually liking it. This was more rewarding than a profit. The currency that would benefit our class would be to find out something that no one else has previously discovered and then to see our discovery implemented. In the previous years a student found that George Washington passed through Suffield and this information was used to complete an interactive map. This accomplishment is something I hope our class can reach as well.


  5. Ben Sylvester

    Luck is a very important aspect to being successful as an entrepreneur, and it is even more important if an entrepreneur capitalizes on these lucky moments. It is very interesting to see how the founders of instagram capitalized on their lucky moment, and changed a very small business into one that would be sold for 1 billion dollars, and expand into a multi-billion dollar company.


  6. Myles Freeman

    Through trial and error as well as unbreakable persistence, the creators of Instagram have turned their app idea into a billion dollar enterprise. The idea of capitalizing on luck can be used to gain success, and this may be applied to just about anywhere. As we share our knowledge and work persistently to find new knowledge, we will be be working to embody the foundation of social media that Instagram has created, and share all of this knowledge with the world!


  7. Dylan Chase

    Absolutely, throughout my early childhood, running lemonade stands outside was always exciting. With that in mind there were several false attempts at being successful in the hot afternoons in mid-August. When I finally tweaked the pricing and advertising at the center of town I recall how accomplished I felt and how great it felt to adapt and overcome obstacles.



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