SITE 2018 The Quickfire Challenge Roundtable: How to fail fast & learn while having fun

We (Candace & Leigh) are honored to present at SITE 2018. This blog post will serve as our guide and “handout” for our roundtable session.

Inspired by reality TV cooking shows, the “Quickfire Challenge” is an educational tool created as an activity in the Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) program at Michigan State University (Wolf, 2009). Over the past 8 years the Quickfire Challenge has been a core of the student learning experience. Having theoretical underpinnings in Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory (1991), the Quickfire Challenge is structured to create a (gently) disorienting experience which challenges traditional forms of professional development models. Quickfire Challenges are carefully crafted to impose time constraints, give specific, yet vague directions, embed tangible outcomes, all the while keeping learning at the core. By experiencing failure (and success) in this format, participants begin to rediscover the joy and creativity necessary to spark engagement in curriculum development and delivery.

For our SITE roundtable, we would like to provide attendees resources for replicating existing Quickfire Challenges (learning from practitioners who have successfully implemented the idea in K12 and teacher PD contexts) along with tools for creating their own challenges. We hope that attendees will leave with a series of experiences which can be implemented in professional development (both online and offline) contexts.


Quickfire Resources

The following links will take you to instructions and examples for several Quickfire Challenges that we have developed and run in the MAET program at Michigan State University:

MSUrbanSTEM Quickfires

Michigan State University, in partnership with global tech giant Wipro Ltd., launched an innovative fellowship program (which ran from 2014-2018) designed to empower math and science teachers in Chicago Public Schools schools to create transformative, innovative, and multimodal instructional experiences for students. One thing you’ll note as a key feature present in the majority of the MSUrbanSTEM Quickfire Challenges is the “extra spicy challenge”. In order to provide the (gently) disorienting experience for all of our fellows, the inclusion of this additional element provided an opportunity for differentiation.

Teacher-generated Quickfires

Over the years, people who have participated in Quickfire Challenges have been inspired to create & share their own versions. Here are a few examples:



Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. San Francisco , CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wolf, L. G. (2009, Aug. 19). Quickfires explained. Retrieved from