Improving Classrooms, Schools, and Educational Systems: Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters

This article was originally posted on 12/8/2016 on the edX Blog

Donald Peurach, Associate Professor of Educational Policy, Leadership, and Innovation in the School of Education

James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation

The moment is ripe for renewal and reinvention in public education, in the United States and around the world.

Social, economic, and political dynamics are creating needs and opportunities to pursue new aims for student learning, new approaches to classroom instruction, and new strategies for school and system organization.

Addressing these needs and seizing these opportunities will require transformative innovation that disrupts and re-constructs fundamental understandings, norms, practices, and organizational forms that structure public education.

It will also require continuous improvement, as educational professionals learn to collaborate in new ways within this new normal to realize ambitions for excellence in the educational opportunities and outcomes of all students.

The moment calls for a new generation of educational leaders who can understand, design, and employ evidence-based methods of educational innovation and improvement.

Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMastersThe University of Michigan’s (U-M) Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters program heeds that call, by catalyzing a diverse community of impassioned educators, reformers, researchers, and policy makers committed to collaborating to renew and reinvent public education.

We aim to create a new kind of learning community that allows learners to collaborate with other global experts and peers, obtain new knowledge and capabilities, and apply methods of educational innovation and improvement to their work.

We aim to do all of this while also making the program both flexible and affordable in order to meet the needs of our diverse learners.

Indeed, some members of this community are aspiring and early career leaders working within emerging roles as teacher-leaders, instructional and data coaches, evaluators, designers, and implementation specialists. Other members are senior leaders working within established roles as principals, superintendents, political appointees, and elected officials.

Some members of this community work within the formal educational governance structure in schools, local districts, and state agencies and ministries. Others work beyond the formal educational governance structures in non-profit organizations, universities, think tanks, and consulting firms.

What unites members of this diverse community is a commitment to discovering and leveraging innovative solutions for global educational improvement. Working within a community of experts and peers, learners who complete the program will be poised to achieve a depth and scale of innovation and improvement that none could achieve independently.

The Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters program was developed by U-M’s School of Education, in collaboration with U-M’s Ross School of Business and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

It is designed as a gathering place for this leadership community: a context in which its diverse members can develop collective identity, common cause, professional relationships, and deep friendships.

It is designed to provide members of this leadership community with a robust professional knowledge base: leading theory, research, and cases to frame, inform, and guide their collaborative efforts to transform classrooms, schools, and systems.

It is also designed to develop capabilities among members to work together in new ways and to greater effect: by mobilizing practices and principals of Positive Organizational Scholarship and Improvement Science to incubate promising approaches, solve persistent problems, and manage for effectiveness and efficiency.

This mix of culture, knowledge, and capabilities will be the glue that binds members of this community together, as they proceed through the Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters program, move forward in their leadership roles, and possibly even join us on campus to complete a full Master of Arts degree in U-M’s School of Education.

U-M continues to play a leadership role by working globally to reshape higher education in an information age. This new MicroMasters program represents a clear opportunity to broaden access to leaders in education and ultimately to raise average levels of student performance and reduce achievement gaps between students, in the US and around the world.

We continue to be excited about the potential of the MicroMasters as a portable, modular, and scalable model designed to meet the changing needs of learners around the world. With this new program, we see an opportunity to broaden participation, accelerate learning, and enhance a growing community’s ability to drive positive change.

The first course in the Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters program starts January 24, 2017 and is currently open for enrollment.

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