School 3.0: Partnering for Mutual Learning and Problem Solving – CDC and MVPS

For awhile, I’ve used the term “School 3.0.” When I do, a number of people ask me what I mean by that.

School 1.0: the “traditional” or industrial-age model of school where information transfer from teacher to student is the dominant and defining characteristic. Verbs such as “deliver” and “cover” are used a lot. The currency is grades on a 100-pt scale (in recent half century).

School 2.0: the “21st century movement” in schooling where some number of “Cs” dominate the conversation (communication, collaboration, creative thinking, etc.); information exchanges in two directions and phrases such as “student-centered” are heard frequently. Technology enables some pull-based education. School works to model more of how the world learns outside of school. The currency of school 2.0 leans much more towards learning, and SBG is at least practiced by several progressive thinkers, if not the entire faculty.

School 3.0: the next wave (hopefully) of school transformation. Learning is deeply contextual and relevant. PBL (with a capital P) dominates the mode of work as “schools” (placed-based collections of teacher-learners, student-learners, and parent-learners — more like schools of fish than mere school buildings) are partnered with community organizations, civic leadership, and for-profit and not-for-profit business to address real-world challenges and opportunities. Shifts thinking about school as merely “preparation” for something later and recognizes that people of all ages learn by doing and desire to be positive forces of change in their worlds. The currency is the stuff that matters — the challenges and opportunities for social and capitalistic improvement, betterment, and innovation.

Well, on Friday, August 22, 2014, I spent a full day in School 3.0

Mary Cantwell (@scitechyedu) was invited as the Director of the Center for Design Thinking at The Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation to facilitate two half-days of professional learning and implementation of design thinking with Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Particularly, Cantwell was asked to work with the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (@CDC_NCBDDD) through the Open Idea Lab.

Additionally, Mount Vernon’s Inaugural Innovation Diploma Cohort was also invited to co-facilitate and participate in the partnership to address three SHI (Strategic Health Initiatives): 1) pregnancy and safe Rx drug use, 2) ADHD overmedication versus behavior therapy, and 3) blood clotting. Director of the iDiploma Meghan Cureton (@MeghanCureton) and I collaborated with the twelve student learners (freshmen, sophomores, and juniors at #MVUpper) in the cohort. Also, colleagues James Campbell (@theRealJamCam) and T.J. Edwards (@TJEdwards62) rounded out the team of educators and agents of @MVIFI.

On Friday, “school” for us involved significant collaboration with three CDC SHI teams to employ design thinking to advance our understanding of and to address the strategic health initiatives that the CDC_NCBDDD focused on during its time in the Open Idea Lab that day. Teen agers and doctors and educators and research scientists were bound up together in SHI teams doing the work of learners, problem-solvers, professionals, engaged citizen leaders, design thinkers, difference makers, etc. Everyone brought strengths and limitations to the tables. Everyone drew on the contributions that others offered.

Progress was made Friday. On three SHI. And on School 3.0.

Read about more of the details in one or more of these posts by my colleagues – those young and old not as young:

8 thoughts on “School 3.0: Partnering for Mutual Learning and Problem Solving – CDC and MVPS

  1. Bo, I learned a lot here. I read it about three or four times for it to really sink in and get it. Great to see the distinguishing features between 1.0 and 2.0 and 3.0. Thank you. What needs to happen for the 3.0 model to be more actualized in lower grades?

    • Craig,

      Great question about lower grades and School 3.0. Based on your understanding and thinking – and based on how I am defining the distinctions – what do you think needs to happen?


      • Bo, thank you for sending my question back to me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn as I make this “Process Comment.”
        This morning I had a conversation with a friend and learned more about a civic issue right here in Atlanta that surely deserves more attention, more stakeholders, and more mindful involvement.
        The Learning Club was founded by a Fulton County probation officer, Samuel Washington, a few years ago.
        Two recent local news articles discuss it here:
        and here:
        However, aside from these articles and a related site for, The Learning Club has no web presence, no social media presence.
        I looked up the ACE Study by the CDC on Adverse Childhood Experiences. The data could be mined and made into something useful, beneficial. Some kind of social innovation.
        In addition, The Learning Club has a lot of needs.
        Maybe School 3.0 lower-school-learners (students, parents, and teachers) could invite people from these organizations to come and do the consultivations.
        Maybe there is even more. Given that the parent group in The Learning Club has been traumatized by the probation court and by their own schooling, they are reluctant to meet in these places. Maybe School 3.0 lower-school participants could find and host alternative meeting forums that will be highly appealing.
        Maybe some of the meeting places where The Learning Club holds events could be done held at School 3.0’s own lower-school campus during the “school day.” I am thinking along the lines of an artist-in-residence, or expert-in-residence, or Atlanta Tech Village. Maybe a 3.0 lower school could be the meeting place for something like Atlanta Tech Village that is an incubator for social entrepreneurship in Atlanta. I guess that would be more like the Center for Civic Innovation in Atlanta:

      • Craig,

        This is a great response. For me, the major tenet of School 3.0 is that the boundaries between “School” and “Real World” are practically non-existent for considerable learning episodes. Instead of the work being for the teacher’s eyes only and for a grade book, and instead of the work always “preparing” kids for something years away, School 3.0 honors the abilities and desires for children to contribute now and for work to be applicable to the real world now.


  2. Bo,
    I have commented on some other blogs related to this experience, and I will reiterate here how incredibly excited and proud I am to experience this trailblazing journey through MVPS and all of its wonderful learners (young and not so young!). What the students were able to experience at the CDC was groundbreaking, and I hope that all involved truly see how the work (NO- change that to PLAY!) in which you, Meghan, other amazing educators, and the students are engaging will have significant effects on the future of schooling/learning. I’m IN– whenever/however you would like to have me!

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