Creativity Course assignments 5-8

This is part of a series of blog posts in regards to the online class, A Crash Course on Creativity offered by the Venture Lab at Stanford University. Click here to check out the entire series.

Prior to lecture 5, there was an announcement about a final team project that would last four weeks. The students were given the freedom to form their own teams. Team of one is an option and I decided to do just that. I don’t know anyone in the class. For the last two team projects, I let the Venture Lab software pick the teams for me. That experience was not great. We were given 7 days or less to complete the assignments. I couldn’t get a hold of any teammates until half of the 7 days have passed. Aside from that, we had to work around everyone’s schedule, time zones, etc. It’s just too complicated.

Lecture 5 was a lengthy description of the brainstorming process. It also introduced the concept of a mind map. The assignment was part 1 of the final team project and it was about defining a problem of not getting enough sleep. Almost everyone was focusing on some problems that keep people awake. I interpreted it as coming up with a problem that requires people to stay awake. Here’s what I submitted:

A runner who specializes in ultramarathon finished the Western States Endurance Run within the 30-hour limit last year and earned a bronze belt buckle. He wants to finish the race in 24 hours this year to earn the silver belt buckle. He has the fitness to run 100 miles but his biggest enemy is sleep. What can he do to stay awake?

Lecture 6 was about team dynamics. It introduced the concept of the Six Thinking Hats. The TED video below was among one of the additional resources. The assignment asked the students to start brainstorming 100 ideas to tackle the problem we defined for the final team project and explore using the Six Thinking Hats technique. The submission was just a write-up of our experience with the Thinking Hats.

Part 2 of the final team project was due on the same day as assignment 6. We had to present 100 ideas we had brainstormed in a list, a mind map, a Prezi, or slides. I thought that video was acceptable, too so I aimed for a mind map that I can showcase in a video. I looked around for mind mapping software. There are many options, such as commercial products and open source software. I landed on TheBrain which offers free and pro versions with a free 30-day trial. The software animates mind maps very well. I used it to create my mind map and then used QuickTime X for the screen capture video. When I was ready to submit the assignment, I learned that video wasn’t an option. I could have submitted the video link and cross my fingers but I don’t want to chance it. I remember videos can be embedded in Prezi so that’s exactly what I did, plus adding a few steps of introduction. Click here to explore the mind map at your own pace.

Lecture 7 was about storytelling. It didn’t offer as much substance as the previous lectures. I thought I’ve already used some of the storytelling techniques in my previous video submissions. Anyhow, the assignment was part 3 of the final team project. We had to select a favorite from the 100 ideas and present it in slides, Prezi, or a 2-minute video. I went for the video again. I checked out the flip cam from work for the video recording. When I set up the problem initially, I had my hubby in mind as the actor and selected running as the act since he runs and bikes regularly. I initially thought we would just film the running parts on a high school track near our house. But when it’s time to create the final video, I realized we should film in the dark to show the runner falling asleep.

I wrote a script and we did the long dialogue sections in our spare bedroom with a bed sheet and blinds covering the windows and no lights on. A headlamp was part of the costume but it didn’t direct any light to hubby’s face where I needed to film. I tried shining a flash light at him and it was too bright. The key was to get some light on his face and no light behind him so no one can tell we filmed indoors. I ended up using a clamp light with a 15-watt bulb plus some thin cheese-cloth type fabric to cut down the light. It worked out well. We then went out to a park to film the outdoor running segments.

It was after 5pm when we arrived at the park. It was already dark and there were very few lampposts. It was raining and windy. We had no choice but did what we could in those conditions. The most useful parts of these video segments were the background noise and the sound of running and walking. When we filmed in the house, we recorded the noise of our hardwood floor squeaking. I needed some sound effect to cover that up. All these ideas complicated the video editing. Anyhow, here’s the final product:

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