Highlander Institute Seeks Systems Change through Fuse Architect Initiative

July 20, 2015

ILS blog


How do you move from a vision for integrated learning systems to classrooms where multiple education technology (edtech) tools seamlessly work together to support student-centered learning? With a new award from NMEF, the Highlander Institute is tackling that question through a multi-phased project called Fuse Architect.

To kickoff Fuse Architect, Highlander Institute rigorously vetted and selected six districts and seven high schools to be a part of the project (phase one). Each district submitted a vision aligned to NMEF’s student centered learning framework. As a condition of being selected, they agreed to collaborate with other selected districts,to apply the principles of human-centered design to create more student-centered high schools, and to leverage integrated learning systems. Other commitments included assessing their current digital infrastructure and teaching and learning systems, supplying 1:1 devices for pilot classrooms, and updating their student data systems to be Ed-Fi compliant.

In their planning, Highlander Institute recognized that it is not possible for districts to do this work without engaging with their school communities. As a result, phase two of the project charges each of the high schools with forming design teams composed of district and school administrators, teachers, and students to help envision what a truly student-empowered integrated learning system would look like for their communities Over the course of the spring, these teams,will engage in a student-centered design process with Highlander Institute and its partner, global design firm, IDEO. The design process will result in specific action plans that support each school’s unique visions for student centered learning.

NMEF and Highlander Institute understand that while edtech decisions are made at the school or district level, classroom implementation can vary from teacher to teacher, even within the same school. To develop a truly integrated learning system, project partner,EdSurge will work with each design team to determine an ideal “tech stack” (or set of edtech tools) to facilitate their action plan (phase three). Additionally, EdSurge will facilitate the connection between design teams and selected edtech vendors. Armed with a set of integrated edtech tools and onsite support from Highlander Institute and its partners, pilot teachers will test their design team’s vision by piloting the tools with their students during the 2017-18 school year (phase 4). These teachers and their students will work directly with Highlander Institute and project partners to document and iterate on their action plan. .

Along the way, school design teams will convene as a cohort to share ideas for piloting their systems and lessons learned through the process. Highlander Institute will facilitate project stakeholders’ continuous learning from the process by reviewing progress, debriefing challenges, discussing assumptions. Through this work, Highlander Institute hopes to boost overall capacity within districts and schools to think more deeply about how edtech tools and systems support the student centered learning they envision.

In our next post, we’ll highlight the partners working with Highlander Institute to bring the Fuse Architect initiative to reality.

To learn more about the Fuse Architect project, updates, and partnerships, see all blogs in this series!

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