lab year 1: written purpose

purpose of the TSD Innovation Lab:
a hatchery as students redefine school

[written for 2010 –  find gap years at storyboard]

our goals this year: the short answer

my ed declaration:
curiosity is natural.
knowledge deemed as opportunity now binds us.
the web allows access to anything.
most need detox to get back to what matters.
nclb = absolutely
achievement gap = misnomer
the lab will open up doors for detox, so that school, work, life, can be enjoyable, rather than stressful.

the long answer:
below is from when we presented at the global symposium
panel outline


on presearch:
In seeking to model what we have found…
1) a most efficient way to learn/gather info (personalized pacing/order via pre-search, research,  (Michael Wesch style), and
2) attention to the value of being together in a room….via people such as Howard Rheingold

..the details you may or may not want to know about us or the lab or whatever can be found at a site we just created called: be you.  If it suits your style – go there now and play around.
Hopefully some of you caught the presearch .. posting all that follows.
…if not, know that everything /everyone is linked, our plan is to flood you with ideas and people that you might connect with – maybe 2 things will grab your heart, jot them down and go after the link.

A bit about us:
Thirty students and I spent last year researching, soul searching and noticing. We came up with some ideas of how to spend hours of the day differently. Most of what we’ll share will be very similar to what most of you do as well.
Our most basic findings…

1) everyone has a different answer for redefining school – personalization the web now allows is key

2) there was one common answer – community service in every course, civic value gives purpose

This made for great affirmation of  the many stories that embody a personal learning experience because of something bigger than the learner.

The model crafted to standardize personalization is a 4 year disruption, in the sense that it is low cost & low impact, gradually growing over the years as users tweak and improve it. Just like Clay Christensen describes the beginnings of such things as the transistor radio in Disrupting Class (note product description.).

Year one’s focus is the Innovation Lab.

Currently the lab is about 60 students in a 15,000 student pop district, .4%.
Although it would be great if bigger, more than likely the lab will stay a small percentage. But we believe it’s foundational, because it’s an ongoing hatchery for innovation, and an ongoing means for research and validation.

So the rest of the students? …ground zero of your school design it
…where there may be 10-15 different ways a student can take a course.
In a continuum, brick and mortar would be one end, and online would be the other. We imagine over the four years, the extremes will be light with the masses in a blended or project based type course.

And the teachers? … ground zero of your pd design it
…where because of (and within) their carefully selected community/network they design their own pd.

Before I turn this over to the experts, I’d like to suggest three images  I hope help visualize a new means to learning – stuff that’s worth losing sleep over… till everyone gets it.

image one

We believe that. We know that. That’s where we have found strength and courage and ideas.

He adds, …but there is no cohesive integrated structure that amplifies the affect of the research.

That resonated with us.. because that was what we had spent the year questioning and noticing and trying to resolve. How can so many people be doing cool things and still there is no standard change. And still the world is not a place of equity. And still the world has many unsolved and growing problems.


  • In order to make change happen, to make it accessible to everyone, we need to determine the similarities of value that we all want in the end and the similarities of process that make it possible. Not a mandated standardization of content, but rather a discovery of natural serendipitous connections between people. Not a curriculum agenda, or even a student agenda, or even a teacher agenda, or even an admin agenda, ..  a people agenda.


We’re thinking a standard process that allows for personalized learning, no matter the size/color of the copy, is a good fractal. Something that would standardize access to learning rather than specific content to be learned. For everyone.

image two

  • When Gary Flake disclosed getpivot – he said it will allow us to navigate the web for the first time as if it’s really a web. Zoom out & zoom in iterations & sortings help us make more sense of more info – the whole of data being bigger than the sum of the parts. Tech can provide us visibility in a info maxed and nonlinear world. Gary suggests that this visibility is a new way to … seek wisdom.
  • Ethan Zuckerman says that interesting problems are global in scale and scope, they require global conversations, not imaginary cosmopolitanism,  … to get to global solutions.


           is not possible w/o digital tech and
human generosity.
He terms this new design resource…

…the ability of the world’s population to volunteer and to contribute and collaborate on large and sometimes global projects.

Getpivot navigation about communities can/will reform ed

image three
How do you see things? How do we embrace fear?
Carol Dweck in Mindset suggests we look with wonder for the potential of growth in any situation.

Fractals and getpivot work together nicely if you have the right mindset.
some examples

  • I zoom out and notice a problem more rigorous or more scalable than the one i could only see right before me. I zoom back in and work on the pieces that matter locally. i share it back out.
  • I believe my students should be self-directed learners, I need to model that fractal per my size copy, self-directing my own learning.
  • The Innovation Lab team is an enlarged size copy of my personal learning community as well as a reduced size copy of society.
  • What makes me feel I’ve done something that matters? .. something awesome? How does that relate to my students?

We’re wondering what will happen if we pay more attention to the connections we see when we zoom in and out.
And for the sake of those that aren’t even getting to be a part of all this… (no access for various reasons)
We’re wondering what will happen if we start to officially document/research these connections in a sophisticated, cohesive manner, to find the similarities worth noting and making accessible to all.

One of our goals is that by May we have ample evidence of the rigor and encompassing knowledge/wisdom, that a process based on personalization and self-motivation allows. We’re seeking national validation for reform.

Joe Bower encourages us to … bring on the students.

So we brought on the students and came up with this.. a standard of access.

Beginning fall 2010 we will piloting this format for documentation of process and we would love for you to join us… because the bigger our base of research, the more valid our stance.

Today’s “school” is an incredible opportunity for rigorous endeavors in things that matter.
An idea that most of us currently (myself included) have honestly no comprehension of.
The new of ed, is the ability to differentiate and specialize to infinity.
We need to model that, we need to do that in education.

what will matter more in 5 years:

what will be more awesome in 5 years:

2010-2011 school year – we are documenting/crafting/living how to develop/create/ facilitate indispensable people.

  • the government is targeting around 2000 schools to model their plan for transformation.
  • how cool if we could have all our pools of innovation log with us. and then in may 2011 – ask the nation – which one matters more to the student in st louis with no wifi, or to the teacher in philly with no time or money, or to the kid labeled add who really doesn’t want to take those meds….

let’s model for the kids that if we notice something that matters, and we connect with people who have the same idea/desires/dreams, and then we do something about it… anything is possible.