by Amanda Nelson
Issues faced by educators and students are being tackled through the work of newly-formed issue-based labs within the Kentucky P20 Innovation Lab, housed at the University of Kentucky College of Education.
The Kentucky P20 Innovation Lab launched in February and is designed to help schools establish innovative and lasting change. Recently, College of Education faculty submitted proposals to use their areas of research and teaching expertise to create issue-based labs within the Kentucky P20 Innovation Lab framework. Of those proposals, 11 labs have been created. To ensure relevancy, faculty co-direct the labs with practitioners in the field, connecting university innovation to the daily practices of students, principals and teachers. Additionally, UK College of Education students will work in the innovation labs.
The labs are taking on a wide range of topics, ranging from digital game-based learning to health and wellness of students.
“When faced with innovating today’s education system, it’s often the status quo that prevails,” UK College of Education Dean Mary John O’Hair said. “There are many good ideas, but too little time and support to try something new. Technology is at the center of this because it provides the catalyst for school change. However, it’s only one piece of a complex puzzle. There are many challenges to overcome in education that will require taking a serious look – through research and experimentation – until a solution is found. That’s why it’s important that the labs break down barriers and provide time and space for university researchers and P-12 educators to collaborate.”
Lab applications were reviewed by an external team consisting of leaders within the community, business and education including such organizations as the Kentucky Department of Education, Council on Postsecondary Education, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Education Professional Standards Board, Fayette County Public Schools and Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative.
Results of the labs’ work will reach a national audience of education experts committed to creating innovative change. In April, Kentucky was selected, along with Maine, New York, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin to lead the nation in developing transformative educational practices as part of the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) Partnership for Next Generation Learning. The CCSSO’s goals closely mirror the work planned for the UK P20 Innovation Lab – helping states move from their current systems to a new design for public education and influencing federal policy to scale, support and sustain what works. The Kentucky Board of Education voted to support the Kentucky Department of Education’s commitment to the CCSSO partnership through development of the UK lab on a statewide level. While housed and led by UK in its College of Education, the effort is being expanded to involve other Kentucky universities, other colleges at UK and school districts from around the state.
“Information is now, literally, at students’ fingertips and it is up to us, as educators, to help them develop the capacity to use it effectively in life, classrooms and eventually the workforce,” O’Hair said. “In a global economy fueled by ever-evolving technology, we must spark powerful broad-based transformation of public education and address the heightened need to prepare Kentucky students to thrive in higher education and the workforce.”