12 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
The R&D Department at ASB strives to enable our school to take smart action based on quality information
with greater speed, while ASB delivers daily on its mission.
So what does the R&D Department at ASB do on a daily basis? The department explores, studies,
prototypes, researches, and scales new teaching and learning approaches, practices, and systems that
advance relevant learning in an accelerating change environment. Prototyping is at the heart of this work.
It is the most valuable competency of a school’s R&D department.
Prototyping at ASB
A prototype is an original or first model of
something from which other forms are copied or
developed. It serves as a first or early example that
is used as a model for what comes later.
Prototyping at ASB is the learning process of
putting the prototype into real contexts with real
people to gather real information quickly (Peters,
1987). An example of prototyping at ASB is the
development of an action research guide. During
this process an initial prototype was created and
shared with our R&D team in order to gather
feedback and insight that could be used to improve
the prototype. When the next iteration of the
prototype moved online, more information was
gathered to improve, refine and develop The Workbook: Action Research Guide and Workspace
This initial prototype model was developed and refined through an iterative prototyping process of
gathering feedback and information from teachers.
Our aims in prototyping are to develop understanding
and insight in order to develop and optimize new
approaches, practices, or systems that meet the needs
of teachers and students. Prototyping in schools is a
deeper, more iterative process than piloting or adopting
commercial approaches, practices, or systems. An
example of prototyping as a formative process is the
prototype maker space in second grade. Students and
teachers use the space. Information and feedback are
gathered and used to change and optimize the
prototype. Once we’ve developed a maker space that
meets the needs for second grade, we have a model and
insight about what will likely lead to successful elementary maker spaces or even maker spaces for other
divisions or schools.
On the other hand, piloting and adopting commercial approaches, practices, or systems are often
summative trials that occur under the assumption that completed programs will meet the needs of all
students in all contexts. Under this assumption, piloting and adopting are more about accommodating
new approaches, practices, or systems instead of understanding, developing and optimizing them.