Convergence Academies

Convergence Academies works in Chicago Public Schools to integrate digital media arts and technology in a whole-school model.

Convergence Academies (CA) is a CCAP initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund. The initiative partners closely with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to create and implement a whole-school reform model that integrates digital media arts and technology throughout two CPS schools.

We are a 2014 Cohort member of Chicago Hive. With Hive support, CCAP will fully implement and evaluate the Convergence Academies connected learning model at two Chicago Public Schools, serving 1,200 students and 56 teachers. The model connects media-integrated classroom curriculum with out-of-class learning in the Digital Atelier, a resource space in each school. The desired outcome is to gain a greater understanding of how connected learning can happen within a public school setting; students will improve media skills and literacies, and teachers will increase their capacity to bridge classroom curriculum with badging and other youth-driven learning tools.

The primary funded partners and their roles and responsibilities in this project are:

  • Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) at Columbia College Chicago – will implement the Convergence Academies model, including professional development, coaching and co-teaching of curriculum units, and curating resources and programming in the Digital Atelier.
  • University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Education (Dr. Nathan Phillips and Dr. Becca Woodward) – will conduct research to understand the impact of the Convergence model on students, teachers, media mentors, and collaborators.

CCAP will serve all students at Morrill Math and Science School in the Chicago Lawn community area and Tilden Career Community Academy in the New City community area. Students are 97% low-income. Morrill students are: grades K-8; 809 students total; Hispanic/Latino (54.5%), African American (44.4%); English Language Learners (ELL) 31%; special education 15%. At Tilden: grades 9-12; 348 students total; African American (68.2%), Hispanic/Latino (22.3%); ELL 8%; special education 28%. Approximately 56 teachers and instructional specialists will be served as well.

Lead Organization:
Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) at Columbia College Chicago

Partner Organizations:
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Education

Project Goal:
The overall goal of the project is to create powerful learning experiences in a school environment using youth- centered, interest-driven and project/challenge-based approaches so that students can increase their academic learning, access learning pathways, and develop creative practices and skills in digital media. Through the grant, Convergence Academies will specifically aim to meet the following outcomes:

Students and teachers will access new opportunities for informal and formal learning through the Digital Atelier, the MakerStudio, online challenges and digital badges. By integrating these components into the everyday environment of the school, students and teachers will increase awareness of and access to learning pathways as well as how Hive Network offerings can support their interests and college/career aspirations.

Teachers will increase their capacity to integrate digital media and the six Convergence instructional pillars (iterative learning, play, collaboration, authentic participation, critical response and choice of expression) into curriculum design through coaching and professional development;

Process documentation, evaluation and research design will be used effectively to a) generate formative feedback that informs iterative design of the Convergence model, and b) capture evidence and case studies that can support replication and scalability.

Project Tags:
2014 Round 2 RFP

Project Portfolio

  • teaching resources

    Convergence Academies Teacher Companion

    Learn about the Convergence Academies Model and Framework and access Best Practices and Templates around:

    • Participatory Practices (pages 9-13);
    • Instructional Model and Instructional Design Rubric (pages 14-19);
    • Incorporating Digital Mentors in Classrooms (pages 28-33);
    • Digital Resources and Software Suggestions (pages 35-36);