Designing For Impact
6 Design Elements For Encouraging Change In Practice
Image Credit: Megan Haddadi, Head Of Technology, Park School
From January to March, MIT’s Teaching Systems Lab ran the Launching Innovation in Schools MOOC. The central design challenge of the course is that MOOCs are primarily an individual, asynchronous, online medium, while school leadership is collaborative, real-time, and situated in specific contexts.
The core design strategy of Launching Innovation in Schools was to develop new learning techniques that transferred learning in the online setting to action in real contexts. These techniques included anchoring leadership principles in specific practices, encouraging the formation of collaborative learning circles, providing a facilitator’s guide for learning circles to use, creating takeout packages that walk leaders through new practices, modeling the process of change in compelling case studies of schools, and offering calls to action that get participants putting their new learning to work right away in their schools. Throughout our design process, we reminded ourselves that the learning that truly mattered was that which transformed participant behavior and changed conditions in their schools.
Learning Circles: Encouraging Students To Take The Course Together
Even before the course officially launched, we encouraged registrants to join with their colleagues and carve out some time each week to meet, work together, discuss and reflect. At times, these learning circles naturally transitioned into teams for leading change.
Instructor Justin Reich explains why we encourage learners to take launching innovation together in this video.
Facilitator’s Guide: Scaffolding Collaboration
We produced a 30-page guide for facilitators of learning circles that offered video discussion questions, group exercises, and other suggestions for how to learn together alongside the online course.
Teaching Theory Through Practices
We introduce each key leadership theory or framework through concrete practices that school leaders can do with their colleagues. For example, when we describe the importance of soliciting stakeholder feedback on vision, we show how to do that through an activity called four corners.
When we emphasize the importance of reflecting on collaborative conversation, we show how the left-hand column case can help people debug tough conversations.
Takeout Packages: Supporting Practices
To help participants go from engaging in online practices to leading those practices in-person with colleagues, we provide takeout packages that function as scripts for leading activities like the rightboro or evaluation scenarios. These scripts give new leaders the confidence to try new practices with their colleagues. Check out our takeout packages!
Case Studies: Seeing Change In Action
We visited a diverse set of public, private, and charter schools where outstanding educators illustrate the hard work of making change happen. These case studies help participants see what innovative change looks like in real settings.
Getting To Work: Assignments And Calls To Action
Every assignment in the course is designed to emphasize practices. Participants learn theory, see it in action through case studies, and then get to work themselves through assignments. The course emphasizes a “bias to action,” the belief that learning and growth happens through action and reflection. Each assignment is accompanied by a call to action video, that helps participants see how the assignment can be part of a change process in their schools and organizations.