Connecting the Dots - Creating a Scalable Hub Model

Let's use hubs to connect educators & innovators and spread their knowledge, ideas, & prototypes across classrooms, schools & districts.

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Please check out our pitch video!! It's a rough-draft but pulls together all of our ideas and explains how the hubs would work with help from outside partners.

Visit our working prototypes! 

Brainstorming Doc 

Prototype of Hub website

Charter document


Padlet Brainstorming


Similar to the transdisciplinary idea, the goal of this idea would be to breakdown silos and foster collaboration, but not just within a grade team and across disciplines, but across schools, districts, professional fields, and geographic regions! 

This model could also be built of learnings from the innovation clusters that Digital Promise has/is creating and the way that the EdCamp model/organization has grown from a grassroots, single experience to an international network. 

Potential For Impact (How will it establish a culture of innovation?)

This model will allow for diverse groups of entrepreneurs, innovators, educators, and industry leaders to network and share ideas and then move forward to develop products and services that would meet the needs of students and teachers in innovative ways. Combining these diverse groups together would make it easier for everyone involved to think outside the box (10X thinking!) because they would be pushed by ideas, thinking routines, and processes outside of their normal work environment. 

These hubs could be learning environments for teachers and admin who want to pick up new skills and need support and also places to meet up with other innovators, in diverse fields to run in-person design challenges or meet in-person to participate in things like the Teachers Guild. 

There are already so many different "innovation" initiatives happening, both online and in tiny communities (in schools, in co-working spaces, etc) with similar threads and goals and even some overlapping stakeholders. These hubs would provide one centralized physical space where resource sharing and cross-audience pollination/collaboration can regularly occur and be shared with other hubs. 

Value Prop/Pitch

What if the teachers and administrators in your district were constantly asked to push their thinking about teaching and learning, including classroom design, pedagogy, teaching tools and materials, and learning goals, through their engagement with a local Innovation Hub? This is what's possible if you become a member of the [insert local region name] Innovation Hub and initiate an "Innovation Fellows" and "Innovation Coaching" model in your school! 

How can we get the idea off the ground?

To start, the model would be tested and prototyped in one or two different cities. Donna has an opportunity to do this already, bringing together her district's innovation incubator (R2 Innovates - see inspiration article below), with the local GEG South Carolina, as well as innovators at local higher education institutions. By launching in one or two cities, we can learn what works and what doesn't and will create a playbook along the way that can be shared with each new city that starts an Innovation Hub. Iterating on the model before any new hub is created will help it remain fresh, responsive, and sustainable.

Each hub will then remain connected to the others through digital tools (e.g., Slack, Google Apps, Voxxer, etc) and posted updates and announcements on one central website. There will be one or two meetings  per year for hub leaders from across the nation to meet and as the network grows, smaller, regional meetings will also be scheduled to make sure the value of face-to-face work is not lost. These meetings will also provide an opportunity for hubs to be infused with new growth and ideas and to run design challenges in larger groups, with new users. 

To help each hub get started, the playbook will offer guidance on doing outreach to local K-12 schools/districts, higher ed institutions, start-ups, non-profit and for-profit companies and initial project ideas to get started on new initiatives in the region. The playbook will also include the Innovation Hub Charter that all hubs must adhere to and support for running initial meetings, during which a board will be created to run the local hub. That board will be tasked with creating a local version of the Innovation Hub Charter that is context specific to the needs of the varied stakeholders in that geographic region. Stakeholders must include at least one: 

  • K-12 Teacher
  • K-12 Administrator
  • K-12 District leader
  • 2+ HS Students
  • Non-profit leader 
  • For-profit leader
  • Start-up leader
  • Local government leader (if local gov. is involved)

This board makeup is designed to ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of the Regional Innovation Hub and its charter and that on-the-ground, grassroots stakeholders are not pushed aside in favor of for-profit agendas

In order for participation in hubs to remain enticing and selective (to avoid issues getting watered down and make it manageable/sustainable), educators and other participant will have to apply to be either individual Innovation Fellows or as part of an Innovation Team. If a fellow or team is accepted into the hub, they will receive funding, access to the physical hub Space, and mentoring to help bring their idea (which addresses a current challenge in education) to fruition. 

Teams and fellows will have one year to work on their idea and after that year they will "graduate" to become mentors to the next cohort. After serving as mentors for one year, everyone will then migrate into Innovation Hub Network members who still have access to the hub space during select times and use the community for ongoing brainstorming, resource sharing, and learning. If you have been an Innovation Fellow or on a Team, you can not re-apply for at least two years so that new users are encouraged to apply and keep the ideas/energy in the hub fresh.

We will also need to set up a contract with a national co-working space to serve as the physical space for all Innovation Hub work. This space could either be donated in exchange for promotion of the space and bringing new organizations/stakeholders to them or paid for by an external donor (e.g., Google, Gates Foundation, Digital Promise). 

Action Item - Can you help us? 

We need help building a bigger team for this idea. We want to get input from each of that stakeholders that would be on a future Innovation Hub board to help further refine this idea and identify the most important pieces that would need to be included on the national/international Innovation Hub Charter. Let us know in the comments below if you can help! 


Join the conversation:

Photo of Nate McClennen

Nice work team on being selected as a final project for the beta Teachers Guild session! My question is "Now what?". I would like to keep pushing this idea, but does this spin outside of the guild at this point? I created a template on the top of our google doc for building a working prototype to test this fall - if the team is interested in pushing further, please add steps. The goal would be to create and MVP to test - it does not have to be pretty but does have to have tangible metrics of success. Thoughts? Margaret - any thoughts on next steps within the guild?

Photo of Donna Teuber

I want to make this happen. I'm not sure about next steps either but think that we'll have more information during the final phase. I think the next step for our team might be to have a hangout to have a discussion.

Photo of Jessica Lura

I am up with a hang-out--just let me know when.

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