The Learning + Technologies Collaborative (formally LT Media Lab) is celebrating multi-year partnership anniversaries with two Minnesota school districts. Research-Practice Partnerships (RPPs) are long-term collaborations between school districts, universities, and organizations that center themselves around mutual problems of practice and a shared research agenda. Data and findings are used to inform program design, professional development, and policies as well as contribute to the literature field (Coburn & Penuel, 2016).

Austin Public Schools has partnered with the Learning + Technologies Collaborative (LTC) for eight years around educational technology, equity, teacher professional development, computer science education, and emergency distance learning. The partnership is particularly proud of the critical thinking and collaboration that took place during the shift to emergency distance and hybrid learning during the pandemic as the district was able leverage the professional development, digital literacy, access, and infrastructure that was built through the partnership. Additionally, the relationships and trust built prior to the pandemic was an asset as LTC staff co-created plans with district leaders and helped teachers prepare for the shift in instructional modality. 

The partnership also co-authored two journal articles in the past year that both illuminate the growth and evolution that RPPs afford: 

Bloomington Public Schools (BPS) and the LTC are entering their third year of RPP centered on building equitable K-12 computer science pathways and online learning. As computer science is a relatively new content area in K-12 education this partnership focuses on mutual problems of practice related to professional development, equity, coaching, pedagogy, and students’ development of computing identities and skills. Thus far, the partnership has helped to build computer science immersion programs at the elementary and middle school levels and will be launching new programming at the high school level and within the district’s online school.

LTC, Code Savvy, and BPS staff presented at the Annual Conference on Research in Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology (RESPECT)

In addition to the computer science initiative, LTC serves as a Research-Practice Partner for New Code Academy, Bloomington’s fully online K-12 school. In contrast to emergency distance learning (Hodges et al., 2020) New Code Academy is a research-based, online school that prioritizes community and flexibility and has been featured in the New York Times and Star Tribune. In addition to offering an effective online education, New Code Academy also offers computer science classes for K-12 students. LTC supports the New Code Academy through providing research from the field, co-developing and leading professional development, and leading research and evaluation to inform the program.

In May, the Awakening Educator recorded a two-part podcast special with LTC staff Lana Peterson and BPS staff on New Code Academy.