“ …working in schools, working in external markets, and driving systemic reform.”
Andrea Coleman, former CEO, iZone
New York City, USA
“In 2010, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) launched the Innovation Zone (iZone), a dedicated Office of Innovation that would support schools in personalizing learning to accelerate college and career readiness among our students. Having started with 81 schools, the iZone now includes 300 schools from across the city.”
iZone’s iLearn programme is projected to save £6.6m ($10.8m) by 2015.2
The iZone acts as an incubation lab for the Department of Education in New York City. It works on three levels, supporting innovation in schools, creating and stimulating external markets, and fostering wider systemic innovation, such as through policy reforms.
Challenges, such as open calls and hackathons, are a central method for encouraging iZone schools to innovate. Schools help set the challenges, and are involved in developing, testing and scaling solutions. iZone’s work also involves ‘systems level’ change, whereby the iZone works to influence policy to foster innovation in schools.
One iZone programme is School of One which strives to solve the issue of all children requiring different types of support in order to learn effectively. Drawing on a complex set of algorithms that analyse each student’s understanding of materials from each lesson, a customised schedule is created for the student to follow the next day. This schedule determines the learning modality, such as teacher-led instruction, student collaboration, or virtual instruction, as well as allocating the amount of teacher time to best leverage their expertise.
Another initiative is iLearn NYC which strives to increase student access to online and blended learning from 7,400 students in 2010/11 to more than 22,000 students in 2013/14.
Photo credit: The Essential Allies Challenge to increase family engagement.Image courtesy of New York City Innovation Zone (iZone)