ABOUT the IDC
An experiment aimed at improving cohesion, coordination, and collaboration in education.
THE IDC: A GRAND EXPERIMENT
EXPLORING INTEGRATIVE APPROACHES
The Integration Design Consortium consists of five teams taking unique but complementary approaches to increasing integration in the education system. By adapting many existing approaches from different fields, the Consortium aims to explore and better understand the conditions, structures, and work processes that can support better alignment of efforts to create a more equitable education system.
A COLLABORATIVE LEARNING NETWORK FOR SHARING IDEAS AND TOOLS ACROSS THE IDC
Although each of the teams has chosen to address the problem in a different way, there are also commonalities across the projects. With that in mind, in addition to working on their individual projects, the grantees are coming together in an ongoing process of collective sensemaking, rather than each team working solely in isolation.
In-person convenings and virtual engagement gives members of the Integration Design Consortium a chance to share challenges, strategies, and stories, and models a cooperative vision, methodology, and process. In essence, the Consortium acts as the foundation for teams to learn from and share with one another.
WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO LEARN
Rather than funding projects that focus on specific areas of education reform, the Consortium will help us learn about important areas such as:
- How might experts in human centered design, systems thinking, and collective impact approach these problems for the field?
- What would go into the process and the resulting products?
- What would people within the systems need to know and be able to do to realize such approaches?
- What mindsets would be important?
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE IDC
FIRST ROUND OF THE IDC: THE ORIGINAL EIGHT TEAMS
The Integration Design Consortium was launched in In early 2016, when Carnegie Corporation of New York invited a group of eight firms that brought a range of expertise in education policy, strategy development, and user-centered design to participate. Each firm received a small grant to explore and develop an approach to address the problem of fragmentation in education. Because the Corporation was interested not only in what the groups produced but also in how they worked, the Corporation asked the firms to be transparent about the methods they used to address the issue. The intention was that the firms’ skills and perspectives would complement and challenge one another, and that their joint focus and sense of common purpose would demonstrate that, together, we can do better.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THE ORIGINAL EIGHT
The teams gathered in New York in September 2016 to share the results of their work. Their efforts, and the themes that emerged from the conversations and presentations, demonstrated several important lessons about what it will mean to “work differently” to overcome the pattern of fragmentation in American public education. These lessons are seemingly apparent, yet fundamentally complex and challenging to implement in practice:
Be conscious of the surrounding system and its structures. When designing or supporting an education initiative at any level, look carefully at where the initiative sits within the larger system, how it will affect particular constituencies, and how success will be influenced by important social, economic, political, and personal or professional factors.
Employ human-centered design. Education is all about people, so it’s especially important to follow the design dictum of planning with the “end users” in mind. Doing so will probably entail involving users in the planning process itself, either by inviting them to co-construct or through user research into their perspectives and preferences.
Explore different entry points and grain sizes. Teams received identical directions, yet they chose to design their approaches for actors and strategies at different points within the education system, from the classroom to the highest levels of policymaking. The lesson here is that there is no one best way: changing entrenched structures and mindsets will require good work at every level and within–and across–every silo.
Be creative about tools and processes that let people work better across structural divisions. Several teams produced ideas that were fundamentally about enabling people to break down the silos themselves. Often using new technology to defy conventional limitations of time and space, these ideas would help people expand their networks and make durable connections outside their usual circles.
The current phase of the Integration Design Consortium, builds on these insights and begins to put these ideas into action.
View the full report from the first phase of the IDC.