Brainstorming is a classic idea generation technique and remains one of the most rapid and rewarding methods of generating lots of ideas within groups. 

Best used for

Ideation. Root Cause Analysis.  Idea/solution validation.

Time to introduce this activity in lecture / Time to run this activity

15 min / 30 min

In the context of Digital Social Impact courses and learning activities

Brainstorming can be used throughout the entire development of digital social impact course development/implementation, but is particularly relevant at the beginning of a project, when students are researching their project challenge. 

Main Target Group

Students with partner / users

Potential tools for digitising this activity

Could be done via Mural, Padlet or Jamboard

Step by Step

1 In groups, have the students formulate their problem or project goal as a phrase starting with “How might we …”, e.g.: “How might we improve the fundraising opportunities for this charity?”


Then present the brainstorming rules (Source:, Stanford University):

  • Defer Judgement – Don’t judge your own ideas or those of others
  • Go for volume – 100 better than 10
  • One conversation at a time – focus
  • Encourage wild ideas – the crazier the better
  • Build on the ideas of others – leverage perspectives
  • Stay on topic – stick to the “how” problem
  • Be visual – communicate your ideas for teammates by sketching

3 Students should now begin by jotting ideas down on Post-its either in person or digitally via a tool like Padlet for example. Provide a time limit (5 minutes, for example), so they don’t over sensor themselves.

4 Repeat the brainstorming round a few times, but with a maximum of 45 minutes in total.