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ABOUT the IDC

An experiment aimed at improving cohesion, coordination, and collaboration in education.

 

WHAT IS THE INTEGRATION DESIGN CONSORTIUM?

EXPLORING INTEGRATIVE APPROACHES

The Integration Design Consortium (IDC) 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. 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 people within the systems need to know and be able to do to realize such approaches?
  • What mindsets would be important and how might they be fostered?
 
 
 
 

A COLLABORATIVE LEARNING STRUCTURE 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 teams are coming together in an ongoing process of collective sensemaking. To help facilitate this process, the “ground rules” and activities of the IDC are built around four goals:

  • Generate innovative yet practical and testable approaches - Push each firm to work rapidly and efficiently, within a fixed budget and timeline and share each firm’s individual approach with other participating teams.
  • Surface areas of agreement and divergence about fragmentation - Create opportunities for feedback, dialogue, and questions that continue to push our collective best thinking; begin to identify common and divergent ideas.
  • Build a common understanding of the issue and a vision for the field - Develop a shared definition of fragmentation, some common language, and a beginning framework for addressing it; determine key actors and stakeholders whose actions can make a difference.
  • Cultivate a learning community among participants - Enable a sense of collective purpose, trust, and collaboration, and create opportunities for connections that go beyond a single undertaking

In-person convenings and virtual engagement models a cooperative vision, methodology, and process, and gives members of the IDC a chance to share challenges, strategies, and stories. In essence, the IDC acts as the foundation for teams to learn from and share with one another.

 
 
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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 human-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.

 
 
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WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THE ORIGINAL EIGHT

The teams gathered in New York on 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 patterns 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-design or to share their perspectives and preferences through exploratory user research. 

  • 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 IDC: FROM EIGHT TEAMS TO FIVE

From the original eight teams, five teams were chosen to move forward with their two-year, grant-funded projects. The current phase of the Integration Design Consortium builds upon the insights from the first phase of the IDC, and begins to put these ideas into action across the country.