Inclusive Innovation: Unlock the Power of R&D for Transformative Solutions
Educators and students working together is the cornerstone of inclusive innovation. During the edLeader Panel “Inclusive Innovation: How School Districts Can Unlock the Power of R&D to Create Transformative Solutions,” superintendents from school districts across the country that are part of Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools shared how they are using research and development (R&D) as part of inclusive innovation.
Kimberly Smith, Chief Inclusive Innovation Officer at Digital Promise, started by explaining R&D. R&D is used to gather knowledge to solve problems. There are opportunities to use R&D to address challenges in education, as seen with the bi-partisan NEED Act, which would create a National Center for Advanced Development in Education.
Smith showed examples of inclusive innovation in schools. The Digital Promise Center for Inclusive Innovation worked with Reynoldsburg City Schools (OH) to imagine new models for supporting students’ learning. They also worked with teachers and students in Bristol Township (PA) to develop student-led mental health professional development for teachers. This was possible thanks to co-research and co-design. Those ideas and designs could be scaled for different classrooms and schools nationwide.
Smith then explained that inclusive innovation creates opportunities for people most impacted by education challenges. Leadership is reflective of the diversity of the community, and students and families are given a voice alongside teachers and researchers.
Inclusive innovation focuses on educational challenges and readiness to begin work, involves communities, creates solutions, and scales to multiple communities. This has led to solutions in cybersecurity, school system transformation models, student-led teacher professional development, diverse workforce recruitment and retention, and student engagement in secondary writing.
Dr. Baron Davis, Senior Advisor for Digital Promise, talked about how inclusive innovation lets districts and organizations use R&D to solve education challenges. At Richland School District Two (SC), he worked with staff to create programs that engaged non-English-speaking students and their communities by getting them involved in the district’s work and in approaching educational problems they faced. Inclusive innovation gave them a voice in identifying and solving issues affecting them.
Dr. Michelle Miller, Superintendent of South Fayette Township School District (PA), shared how she worked with Digital Promise to help the cybersecurity program in her district grow and welcome more diverse groups of students.
Meanwhile, in Rowland Unified School District (CA) where Dr. Julie Mitchell is Superintendent, they gave students a voice, such as letting them present at summits, and worked to make students college and career ready.
According to Dr. Michael Nagler, Superintendent of Mineola Union Free School District (NY), education R&D can benefit society and inclusive innovation helps localize policies. It gives students and communities a chance to provide feedback, which is used to change and improve policies.
Smith asked the panelists how federal R&D policies and funding impact educators’ work at the local level to transform education. Dr. Mitchell answered that educators need to identify and meet students’ needs and create flexibility to account for districts’ differences, which takes funding. Dr. Nagler added that districts and organizations need to share research, so results can be adapted for different communities.
When discussing how R&D can transform education through inclusion, Dr. Davis emphasized co-leadership and co-design with communities to solve problems. In addition, Dr. Nagler urged administrators to be willing to try, fail, and move forward. Admitting when something didn’t work is vital. Also mentioned were the importance of giving the community a voice and listening to what they say, and starting small in classrooms in order to create sustainable solutions.
R&D is crucial for helping students, and inclusive innovation means the students and their communities are involved. When educators give students and communities a voice and listen to their feedback, any challenge can be overcome.
Learn more about this edWeb broadcast, Inclusive Innovation: How School Districts Can Unlock the Power of R&D to Create Transformative Solutions, sponsored by Digital Promise Center for Inclusive Innovation.
Join the Community
Inclusive Innovation to Transform Education is a free professional learning community where educators can share ideas, research, and practices to foster the creative ingenuity of communities working in partnership with school districts to create equitable powerful learning opportunities for students furthest from opportunity.
Digital Promise’s Center for Inclusive Innovation reimagines education research and development (R&D) by resourcing the creative ingenuity of communities working in partnership with school districts to create equitable powerful learning opportunities for students furthest from opportunity. The foundation for Inclusive Innovation is anchored in a set of core tenets that embody an equity-centered approach to research and development. The tenets define how we deliberately support teams in co-constructing an inclusive R&D culture that enables equitable leadership and contribution.
Article by Jon Scanlon, based on this edLeader Panel.