Date: 
Saturday, March 7, 2015

Digital Promise to Create Network of Education Innovation Clusters

CRPE Practitioner in Residence Steven Hodas discusses centers for educational innovation in this Education Week article.

Excerpt from the article by Michele Molnar:

Education innovation clusters are emerging or growing in cities and regions around the world, and Digital Promise announced Friday that it is designing a network that will share lessons learned in these hubs with schools in the United States and abroad.

An "education innovation cluster" is a way that people in a city or region pool their talents, perspectives, and assets to tackle challenges that are facing schools, according to Steven Hodas, who is leading the work for Digital Promise, a nonprofit dedicated to improving education through technology and research. Besides the U.S.-based clusters, five other countries have active centers for educational innovation.

Clusters tend to differ based on the needs of schools in a given area, and the organizations that support them. Usually, a cluster includes researchers, ed-tech companies, universities, investors, developers, and foundations or nonprofits, although not all are needed to start or sustain a cluster, and they can be launched without much initial funding.

They can originate with a clear ed-tech focus, as has happened in Boston with LearnLaunch and Baltimore with EdTech Maryland; in universities' graduate schools of education, like the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia; or they can start with schools as the driving force, as is happening in Nashville, where the school district is working with Alignment Nashville, which has created a framework for developing community schools.

"It's not necessary for the district to be the convener for teachers, schools, and students to benefit," said Hodas, who is a practitioner-in-residence at the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington. But when a district is the convener, it adds "political capital," Hodas said, signaling from top leadership that addressing the district's challenges in innovative ways is a high priority.
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Read the full article.

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