The vision of the Summer Institutes is to foster new and effective ways, through best practices in blended and online education, to improve the personalization of learning and to inspire further innovation by connecting teachers with ed tech startups and developers.
The Summer Institute works at three levels:
Classroom level: We design, build, and test new learning models in an intense environment in a compressed time period. We supply teachers with know-how and tools to personalize learning around the unique strengths, interests and needs of each student.
Ed tech eco system: We connect two worlds that at the moment exist in a measure of isolation. We provide opportunity for conversation between developers, students and teachers, inspiring improved and empathic product development.
Systems level: We build capacity and develop and promote the kinds of policies and processes that inspire innovation.
The Summer Institute is comprised of several complementary facets.
The Blended Learning Lab is an accelerator program that provides a hands-on environment where teachers are given time, support and inspiration to create blended learning modules (2-3 week units of study) for individual courses.
The modules contain: originally produced as well as existing and curated video and lectures; interactive activities; group and individual assignments; and live class sessions. Teachers are supported in this work by a Content Strategist (teachers and technology integrators with prior experience in blended and online learning). The role of the strategist is not to build these individual elements, but to help the teacher determine how they should be combined to create a blended course that is more effective and compelling for students than the current course being offered.
In preparation for the module design and building phase, teachers enroll in a blended professional development course that will run before, during and after the Blended Learning Lab. The course introduces teachers to the most effective teaching methods and activities in blended and online learning and model these approaches through its design and delivery.
Student technology leadership also plays a vital role in driving further innovation within the school. Working to foster agency for their learning with technology, students serve as curriculum reviewers and tutorial designers.
We open up possibilities for innovation and inspire student and teacher entrepreneurship and creativity
by connecting with people who share our values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with like-minded talented people in the same space. In addition to the blended learning training and content creation, participants have the opportunity to network with New York City based local ed tech companies. The Summer Institute was located in rented co-working space and networked with ed tech incubators and accelerators. Examples of groups and spaces that would be can be good to connect with:
Queens M2 Birdhouses
Queens Middle School 2 pupils invested in the UNIS ethos to combine their skills and produce a range of birdhouses for the school grounds; addressing sustainability by using manufactured boards. By becoming innovators they integrated Design Technology, ICT, Mathematics and Science to research, plan, design and model ideas before beginning the manufacture of their birdhouses. They used life skills and constructed their products by hand through sawing, drilling, sanding, filing and finishing.