Inspiring Innovation

Posted by Leighangela Brady on 10/16/2018 7:00:00 PM

Thanks to the forward vision and financial support of the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), I was able to participate in an "Innovation Tech Tour" with superintendent colleagues from across San Diego county.

The trip was led by Dr. Paul Gothold, County Superintendent of Schools, and his innovation team– Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Patrick Gittisriboongul, and Executive Director of Innovation Dr. Erin English. In this two-day whirlwind tour, we were able to travel to San Francisco to visit and learn from innovative industry models, analyze implications for educational change, and begin to identify next steps for our own Districts. 

On day one, we visited Forward, a proactive health care company that personalizes health care goals and helps create an individual proactive health care plan for each customer. Using a subscription based model, this service collects and tracks your health data and progress over time. Whether you want to lose weight, sleep better, or increase your energy levels, access to dedicated doctors and coaches provide the attention necessary to stay on track and achieve desired results. 

At Lyft and a Google, we experienced innovative spaces and results-driven work. Hungry? Head on over to one of the company's micro-cafeterias and grab a meal or snack... free of charge. Having trouble figuring something out? Take a break and clear your mind in the company gym or game room. Need a change of scenery? Be inspired by comfortable nooks and flexible seating options. 

We ended the day at Salesforce. Despite the fact that I still don't know exactly what Salesforce does, I did learn that their company is growing at an exponential rate. Grossing $10.4 billion last year, this big data company helps organizations learn about and engage with their customers in meaningful ways. 

So what implications do these innovative business models have on our current educational practices? That was our focus for day two. Our first stop was to iLab in the San Francisco Unified School District. This unique professional development center serves as the innovation research and development hub for the District. Teachers and teams can pitch ideas to receive funding to explore innovative solutions to current challenges. Regular meetings, individualized coaching, and District support set the conditions that foster innovation.

The second part of day two was spent observing and brainstorming at the Alt School. Alt School is a private small lab school funded by tech executives. Alt School cultivates innovative learning practices in a small setting in an effort  to hone ideas for scalability in public schools. At Alt School, students can work on a personalized learning plan at their own pace on a common platform. They learn how to manage deadlines, collaborate with others, and practice self-accountability. Student learning is presented as challenges or tasks, and teachers operate as project managers.

Needless to say, my head was swimming with ideas by the end of the two days. I am looking forward to sharing this learning with our #NSDnow team, and determining the next steps for our District.

Thank you SDCOE  for this inspiring opportunity.