“Building Innovation Partnerships”


Butler addresses what he sees as the lack of true transformational partnerships between schools and their partners. He pushes schools to imagine partnerships that go beyond transactional relationships focused on funding to relationships that include key stakeholders working across organizations to develop real innovation. Butler asserts that greater levels of change can occur when partners work together to change how things are done and have tough conversations about drivers of culture and achievement. Transformational partnerships represent an untapped opportunity for school redesign and school improvement.

“What do the innovation economy and young black men have to offer each other?”

Small genius

What is it that the disadvantaged students need to succeed? Mike Green discusses how disadvantaged young black men in particular need access to the language of innovation and STEM education. Knowledge and mastery of the language and skills of the innovation gives students access to high-growth and high-income entrepreneurial opportunities in the future. Green believes students need to be challenged with critical thinking projects and educated by people who are thinking in innovative ways. These innovative educational opportunities will positively impact students in both academics and life.

“Innovation in Education: Not just a term for startups”

big_2014-03-18-InnovationEduLevittLevitt shows that teachers and innovators share similar habitual core traits. Clayton Christensen’s book The Innovator’s DNA describes five traits of innovative thinkers: associating, questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting. Levitt pulls on her own experience as both a teacher and the founder of a startup to show that each innovative thinking competency is used frequently in the classroom. Great teachers = great innovators.

“Next frontiers for lean”

Lean production is spreading to more and more fields. McKinsey analyzes how it’s grown from beginnings in business in the Toyota production line to various businesses and is now moving into the public sector. Lean is all over the place: hospitals, airlines, restaurants, and asset management to name a few. The next step for lean is to link feedback more directly to product design and marketing. Applying these lean ideas to new systems is creating innovation and increased effectiveness in unexpected ways. We think there’s tons of opportunity for the application lean principles to the education sector.

“Escaping the Education Matrix”


What story are students learning about themselves at school? Steve Hargadon explains that our current school system is built to produce students who are excellent at following. He believes those practices are dissonant with the narrative we tell students about valuing their creativity and potential. Parents and communities could step up and drive the change for a new school system since the small number of people in power may not have an incentive to change it. Hargadon imagines a world where parents and students are able to choose how they learn and their opinions are valued in building schools that respond to their needs. Hargodon’s ideas support an empathy-driven approach that incorporates all stakeholders into the school design process.

Tom Vander Ark on TrueSchool Studio and future of learning

word innovateTom Vander Ark writes about TrueSchool Studio as a leader in the redesign of not only schools, but also the way we learn. TrueSchool is one of the early organizations figuring out what this new kind of education will look like through three main areas of development: in-school accelerator, technology micro-pilots, and design thinking skill building and application.

read the full article on Getting Smart here.

TrueSchool, Stanford, and ThinkImpact partner to launch innovation app

UnleeshAppIn partnership with Stanford University and ThinkImpact, TrueSchool will research and design an action platform curriculum to be launched on the Unleesh app. The app will include two possible pathways: one pathway open to the public and geared towards anyone seeking to design/build/launch a social enterprise (“Explorer”) and a private pathway for Stanford students and alumni with a focus on later-stage social ventures (“Pro”). The Pro pathway will also include opportunities specific to Stanford students/alumni around social entrepreneurship (such as Stanford classes, student groups, speakers, and competitions).


TrueSchool facilitates Studio with 72 teachers at Grace King High School

IMG_1671From October through November 2013, TrueSchool Studio teamed up with the 72 teachers at Grace King High School to run a Studio geared towards developing team-designed and teacher-led prototypes. Beginning with an understanding of available resources and assets, 10 teams of between 5-8 teachers then identified a challenge and a potential solution to test.

Ideas ranged from improving student nutrition and incentive/rewards systems to personalized learning for English Language Learners and special education students.

TrueSchool attends iNACOL Conference as NGLC design partner

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TrueSchool Studio attended the iNACOL conference as a Next Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC) design partner. The premier conference for education professionals at the forefront of blended and online learning, the week in Orlando was filled with exciting conversations, events, and panels around the future of learning and the possibilities of education technology to redefine the student and teacher experience.


TrueSchool joined the cohort of NGLC grant recipients as a design partner at the conference. NGLC grant recipients have received between 100-450k to design and launch innovative schools that push the boundaries of learning.


The Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) “accelerates educational innovation through applied technology to dramatically improve college readiness and completion in the United States. It is a collaborative, multi-year initiative focused on identifying and scaling technology-enabled approaches to dramatically improve college readiness and completion, especially for low-income young adults.”


TrueSchool partners with World Class Schools in Raleigh-Durham


In partnership with World Class Schools’ Research Triangle Educators’ Design Network (EDeN) Fellowship, TrueSchool led a Studio with 7 EDeN Fellows in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.


The EDeN looks for “entrepreneurial educators to analyze existing school models from across the country that personalize learning through innovative teaching roles and strategic uses of time and technology. They will draw lessons from these models and work together with World Class Schools to design the actual instructional model for a new charter school to be proposed to open in Fall 2015.”


TrueSchool created and facilitated programming that included asset mapping, setting team culture and vision, user-centered design to encourage empathetic mindset, and a design-thinking challenge incorporating a real student case study.

Fellow Emily Parrish (secondary math teacher, North Carolina Virtual Public School Teacher of the Year, and Finalist for Online Teacher of the Year) said: “design thinking really pushed me – would push others as well – great for learning dynamics of groups.” 

Fellow Rose-Marie Shigas (secondary social studies teacher and curriculum designer) said “I’m excited about the possibilities for students to play stronger role in their instructional design. Considering a school model from the ground up is inspiring.”


A new North Carolina nonprofit, World Class Schools is “dedicated to empowering educators to design and implement school models that leverage excellent teaching and high-quality digital learning to dramatically improve student learning experiences and close achievement gaps.”