The Highlander Institute approach to high school redesign for personalized and blended learning rests on the development of a Design Team to pilot, iterate and ultimately develop a set of tailored instructional practices and school operating systems that fit the mission, vision and intended outcomes a particular community values.
The best design teams are composed of a diverse range of a school’s community members, including teachers, students, district administrators, school leadership, parents and community partners when applicable.
We advocate for the Design Team approach for several reasons. Shifting a school towards new learning paradigms is not only an extremely large onus that carries new tasks and responsibilities, but it is also uncharted territory requiring patience and a willingness to fail and iterate. Design Teams, with members who join with eyes wide open, are best suited to shoulder these tasks, bearing the brunt of the work while sharing the successful fruits of their labor with the rest of the community. For the full scope of our pathway to personalization framework, look at these resources from our book.
The Fuse Architect project was our first attempt to implement the Design Team approach. Each of the schools developed a design team with a range of members from the student, teacher, district and school levels. Based on the 18-month period we spent alongside these schools building and testing out strategies for personalized learning we have developed this website to share out the best practices schools can use to develop their own Design Teams.
The Fuse Architect project was a grant funded project with a specific focus on how edtech platforms can support schools increase practices related to student-centered learning. Therefore several of our resources are tailored specifically to edtech, however, ultimately we believe the design team approach, and our cultivated resources can be used to support schools shift towards any new learning approach related to student-centered learning--including personalized learning, culturally relevant learning, anywhere, anytime learning and competency based learning.