The following graphic outlines the four overarching goals we have as an organization. AK12DC started its work in 2012 when the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation came to the Center for Teaching (CFT) at Westminster School to get some advice new opportunities for professional learning for educators. The CFT assembled a small group of thought leaders (educators) in Atlanta to discuss the issue and design a learning experience that would be different from those that schools typically support. AK12DC was hatched with the expressed purpose of teaching and applying the principles of design thinking to drive innovation in schools.
An important part of the AK12DC experience is the partnerships we have established. We are funded in part by the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation. The Fulton County School (FCS) district has entered into a partnership with a consortium of independent schools (Westminster School, Lovett School, Atlanta International School, Woodward Academy and Trinity School), and a local charter school, Drew Charter School. FCS selects some of their schools to work alongside the independent and charter school in the AK12DC experience.
The following graphic gives you an idea of the journey we have been on since we launched the program. Since 2013 we have worked with about 8-12 schools each year and about 8-12 design teams, usually one per school. We have seen many AK12SDC schools use our curriculum and the learning they experienced to solve interesting and complex problems in their schools. For example, Mountain Park Elementary has redesigned the homework experience, Westminster School has created a hub of innovation in its Middle School, and Lovett School has redesigned the Lower School playground. Other schools have addressed some equally interesting and challenging issues.
In 2014, we worked with Kronley and Associates to conducted a yearlong study of AK12DC’s impact on the design teams and their schools. Then in 2015, we worked with SageFox Consulting Group to conduct a similar study of our impact on design teams, schools and programs. Each of study gave us a clear window into the effectiveness of our programs. We learned that we were teaching design thinking exceptionally well, we were supporting design teams really well, and we were having an impact on AK12DC schools. We also learned some things that resulted in us changing the program’s structure from 2014-2016. A very brief summary of an extensive amount of data is shown in the graphic below.
In 2016-2017, we changed our approach and designed our program around two initiatives: (1) our Bootcamp model which is structured to teach design thinking to educators and educational leaders; and (2) our Portfolio Program which is structured to help K-12 schools apply design-thinking principles to solve complex school challenges. The following graphic outlines our programmatic structure for 2016-2017.
The structure that allows us to manage the roughly $200,000 annual budget is illustrated in the graphic below. While the structure uses mostly educators who have other responsibilities, we do invest in outside consultants and experts to deliver parts of the program. For example, we contract with a professional in Atlanta who uses design thinking in the workplace, trained at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) at Stanford University, and is on the faculty at the d.school. In addition, some of the support team (mentors) are from the corporate or non-profit sector who use design thinking in their work.