Partner Collaboration Key to Highlander Institute’s Vision for Fuse Architect Success

July 31, 2015

ILS blog


As the Highlander Institute embarks on its Fuse Architect initiative with NMEF, six LEAs and seven high schools, collaborations with external partners are in the forefront. In this blog, we highlight key partners working with Highlander Institute to help make the vision for student centered learning and integrated learning systems a reality for participating Rhode Island schools.

First, we start with developing the vision (or visions) for student centered learning. This is the role for partner IDEO. A global design company, IDEO is tasked with assisting Highlander Institute and school design teams to develop their unique vision for student centered learning and create action plans for how to move from those visions to implementation. Through their Design Thinking for Educators work, IDEO has trained numerous educators in design thinking skills and developed a framework for supporting educational innovation. During the planning phase for Fuse Architect, IDEO will lead design teams of teachers, students, and administrators through an interactive design thinking and innovation workshop (AKA “Design Day”) that will set the stage for school-based integrated learning system pilot projects.

From vision, we then move to making that vision a reality. That’s where the partnership with EdSurge comes in. EdSurge helps schools and colleges find, select, and use the right technology to support all learners. As a key partner in this project, EdSurge is capitalizing on their “Concierge” service to survey schools’ current edtech usage, identify gaps in their edtech tools, and vet potential solutions to those gaps. Armed with this data and the action plans from the IDEO Design Day, EdSurge will coach LEAs and school design teams as they select edtech products that will help bring their student centered learning vision to life and connect them to the vendors to make it happen.

Moving design teams’ visions to realities will only happen with the advice and support of the teams that surround and provide infrastructure to those LEAs and partner schools. This is where Highlander Institute’s partnerships with the Rhode Island Office of Innovation and Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) will be key. The Rhode Island Office of Innovation relies on strategic public-private partnerships to identify and scale promising ideas and develop an innovation agenda for the state. As key advisor and ideation partner during the design and edtech selection steps of the project, this office will lend its weight to the importance of this project in Rhode Island. Additionally, RIDE is serving Highlander Institute as a thought partner, connector, and strategy consultant to ensure the Fuse Architect project is a success.

And finally, no project is successful unless the learnings from the project are documented. That’s where partner Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute™ (MVLRI™) enters into the project. As a leading research organization on K-12 online and blended learning, MVLRI, the research division of MV, has been sharing research and best practices with educators around the country through its reports, blogs, webinars, and podcast series. The goal of the MVLRI is to expand Michigan’s capacity to support new learning models, engage in active research to inform new policies in online and blended learning, and strengthen the state’s infrastructures for sharing best practices. For the purposes of this project, MVLRI will work with Highlander Institute and Nellie Mae to document not only the project overall, but the process and how that process works and informs the final products that emerge.

Each of Highlander Institute’s partners stands to play a key role in helping to make student centered learning and Fuse Architect a success. In our next blog, we’ll highlight the LEAs and schools that have stepped up to the challenge of this project with Highlander Institute and its partners.

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

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