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Innovation Factory

Turning inventions into impact–measured by revenues, learning, or positive change in the lives of the individuals and communities—has been elusive.  The challenge is that invention alone does not automatically create impactful innovation. Invention generates the potential for impact. The creation of sustainable impact from invention requires a well functioning system inside an organization. Some of the pieces are captured in the design literature. Some of the pieces are described in a business model. And some of the pieces can be found in the learning sciences.  Impactful innovation emerges from alignment and coordination across these pieces of this system. But most writers address only pieces of the system. In the Innovation Factory, I put all the pieces together to support organizations passionate about positively impacting students, parents, teachers, educators, and communities. 

Principled Design for Efficacy

Principled Design for Efficacy is an approach to principled assessment design and development created by our chief scientist, Paul Nichols, with Steve Ferrara and Emily Lai. Paul’s primary goal in creating Principled Design for Efficacy was to provide a practical way to implement principled assessment design and development. Paul wanted to overcome some of the conceptual and procedural challenges that have impeded test developers as they implement other principled approaches while, at the same time, making item and task development more efficient and valid. The Principled Design for Efficacy framework is a set of six concepts that every assessment developer can understand and use to organize the set of more specific issues that must be addressed during assessment design and development.  As shown in Figure 1, the framework consists of the concepts of Consequences, Content, Evidence, Communication, and Implementation coordinated around a deep understanding of the Construct.

Engaging Tasks and Activities

Thinking and learning is increasingly being conceptualized as complex. For example, the Next Generation Science Standards describes the kind of thinking science education should foster as “three-dimensional” and learning is in terms of progressively more sophisticated understanding characterized by the application of these interwoven practices, concepts and ideas.  Learning activities and assessment tasks targeted at thinking and learning should engage students’ interest and be relevant to their lives. Yet education companies still treat writing learning and assessment tasks and activities as an art–put a blank piece of paper (or more likely a blank online template) in front of teachers and direct them to write a strongly aligned and highly engaging task or activity, as if still assigning a multiple-choice item.  At Planful Learning and Assessment, we give teachers more support than that.  We combine research from the learning sciences with the wisdom of experienced teachers to help teachers create better tasks and activities with less churn and frustration. We do that by conveniently unpacking for teachers the research findings originally used to write the content standards, scaffolding strategies for engaging students, and supporting teachers in applying it all to their local context.

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