Inclusive Innovation - Digital Promise
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Inclusive Innovation

Digital Promise’s Inclusive Innovation model amplifies voices who have been underrepresented in education innovation to solve community challenges.

What’s missing from traditional education research and development? A radical commitment to equity. Our Inclusive Innovation model reimagines education R&D by engaging diverse community stakeholders as leaders and designers using equity-first practices.

Inclusive Innovation creates and catalyzes equitable opportunities for individuals, groups, and regions that are underrepresented in the education innovation ecosystem to successfully lead, participate in, and benefit from innovation. Digital Promise is collaborating with communities and educators across the country to create and learn using this equity-first R&D model. More about the Inclusive Innovation model can be found in this Designing a Process for Inclusive Innovation: A Radical Commitment to Equity report.

2 by 2 chart with Innovation on the x-axis and Equity on the y-axis.

The above “Innovation x Equity” matrix is a useful tool for analyzing innovation and equity in a given project or proposed solution. The Innovation axis indicates whether the project is “adapted” from an existing solution, or is “novel,” i.e., significantly different and ready to scale. On the Equity axis, the project is analyzed to determine who has access and whether access promotes equity or reinforces opportunity gaps. Inclusive Innovation seeks to move solution designs towards quadrants C and D.

In the Inclusive Innovation model, developers, community, and researchers collaborate throughout the five stages from Connect/Commit though Sustain and Scale, resulting in co-owned solutions to be shared widely.

The process of Inclusive Innovation moves iteratively across five stages—Connect/Commit, Inquire/Investigate, Design/Develop, Implement/Iterate, and Sustain and Scale—as shown in the graphic above. Community is the central strand on which the research and development work is anchored. Developers, researchers, and community are intertwined, yet at the same time each may play a lead role in a different aspect of the work at each stage, indicated by the community (green), developer (gold), and researcher (red) paths. During each stage, the three strands merge together for equity and mutuality checks before moving into the next stage. Read more about the five stages in the report (see page 16).

What sets the Inclusive Innovation model apart from traditional R&D is that it results in solutions that have been informed and developed by co-experts, including community stakeholders, developers, and researchers. Co-design of solutions ensures they are contextually and culturally relevant. Additionally, Inclusive Innovation solutions are designed for eventual scale. The five stages provide a roadmap for mutual partnership, embedding an awareness of community context so that solutions produced through this process are effective and can be implemented in similar contexts.

Digital Promise Inclusive Innovation Projects / Initiatives

Addressing Adolescent Writing through Inclusive Innovation

Over 18 months, three League of Innovative Schools districts and their communities will tackle pressing challenges in adolescent writing for black, Latinx, and low-income students through an equity-centered R&D process. Digital Promise will work closely with teams of innovative educators and community stakeholders in each region to understand their challenges in secondary writing and prototype and trial solutions to address them.

Advancing Equity-Centered R&D Practices Within Networks

We are engaging our League of Innovative Schools and Education Innovation Clusters networks in a year-long endeavor to design a collective equity agenda. The agenda will reflect practices that work, a collective public voice, and a set of priorities that will advance equity work in districts and regions across the country. The agenda will convey a set of actions that the networks will undertake to both deepen the impact of their local equity initiatives and build on the power of their collective work. We will apply what’s learned from the agenda to our approach to Inclusive Innovation in order to advance best practices in equity-centered R&D.

A Diverse Educator Workforce: Designed by Teachers of Color

We are inviting teachers of color from around the country to design concepts to create recruitment and retention solutions. With Inclusive Innovation practices at the center, we are hosting an event and facilitating a series of design studios and dialogs to invite radical new ideas from practitioners of color, and support their participation in an ongoing, collaborative solution design process.

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