Here at the U.S. Department of Education, we recognize that often the way we can have the greatest impact on American education is by bringing people with innovative ideas together—and then getting out of their way!
To that end we are pleased to announce a new place on ED.gov where education innovators can share their ideas and collaborate to turn those ideas into a new reality. The Open Innovation Portal will be a place where funders, innovators and practitioners can spotlight areas of need, propose and suggest improvements to solutions, and fund, implement, and improve these solutions in and outside of the classroom.
Secretary Duncan writes in a blog post launching this new online community, “By connecting an idea from a teacher in Maine to a principal in Oklahoma, or a teacher-entrepreneur in North Dakota with a foundation in New York, the Portal will be a national marketplace of ideas of how we can ensure that every American child will graduate ready to succeed in college and the workplace.”
We can think of many uses for the Open Innovation Portal, including as a tool to help improve proposals and find matching funds and partners for the Department’s $650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund . (We expect to release the application for that grant program in the next few weeks.) But we expect the community will discover on its own how best to leverage the Portal’s capabilities.
How the Portal Works
The Open Innovation Portal is a Web 2.0 innovation ecosystem that combines features of both a community and a marketplace. As a community, the portal creates a social network that strengthens relationships, facilitates connections and promotes collaboration. As a marketplace, the Portal creates an innovation process that taps the “wisdom of the community” to identify and resource the most promising ideas in education.
Portal users will register for the site and create online profiles with their background and basic contact information. All registered users, whether teachers, administrators, or members of the general public, are invited to be “innovators” and post their “solutions” on the Portal. Solutions are posted to categories of educational “challenges” of interest to the community, the Department, and potential funders. Initial challenges will be aligned with i3 priorities such as supporting effective teachers and school leaders, or serving schools in rural LEAs.
An online form captures detailed information about the “solution,” including the nature of the problem, the merits of the approach, the scalability of the idea, and the resources required to succeed. Users can upload supporting materials including videos and web links. Once posted, members of the community collaborate and rate, rank, comment, ask questions and offer resources to the proposed “Solutions.” Through this collaborative process, the best ideas rise to the top and weaker ideas either improve or are filtered out.
You are invited to join this community of innovators, and we hope you will invite others to join you. We know there are many places competing for your time online, but we think you will find ED’s Open Innovation Portal to be a unique destination where good ideas for education can be identified and improved, and great ideas can grow.
You can learn more about the Portal in the February edition of ED’s Innovator newsletter, and you can access the Portal via https://innovation.ed.gov.