Dr. Branson and Ms. Dennison Share BLinc Fairy Tale at MISBO + IDEO Think Tank in New Orleans

“Once upon a time in a far-off kingdom, there was a School nestled in the Woods…” Last Friday, Head of Indian Creek School Dr. Rick Branson stood in a conference room in New Orleans, LA, and shared the fairy tale story of Indian Creek’s Blended Learning program (BLinc) with leaders from 12 schools world-wide, who have been selected to participate in a MISBO + IDEO project to imagine innovative and sustainable business models that allow independent schools to provide accessible, high-quality education.

Both Dr. Branson and Head of School for Finance and Operations Linda Dennison were part of the MISBO + IDEO team, which has collaborated since last spring. MISBO (Mid-South Independent School Business Officers) is a consortium of Independent School Business Officers which provides professional development and collaboration to encourage excellence and creative leadership in their independent schools. Last spring, MISBO partnered with IDEO, a world-class global design and innovation consulting firm that helps organizations create positive impact through design thinking.

The organizations gathered leaders from 12 schools around the world to create a think tank to imagine not only new financial models, but also innovative educational models with the goal of balancing financial stability and a high quality of education. The cohort met several times in person and remotely over a 7-week timeline to brainstorm, experiment, and take action on a plan that could positively impact their school, with the guidance of the IDEO consultants.  The group’s work culminated at the 2017 MISBO Fall Conference in New Orleans, LA, last Wednesday, October 4, through Friday, October 6.

Indian Creek’s project explored the possibility of taking the School’s innovative and successful BLinc (Blended Learning at Indian Creek School) and offering it to students outside of the ICS community as a revenue source.  Indian Creek partnered with ABC2 and Scripps Media to create and implement a strategic three-tiered digital marketing campaign to test the public's interest in three Blended Learning courses offered during the Summer of 2017. Dr. Branson shared the story of Indian Creek’s BLinc test with his MISBO + IDEO cohorts: “The School in the Woods had learned much. The Children of the School in the Woods continued to sign up for blended course, and this ‘innovation renaissance’ very much pleased the children and teachers and parents. Blended learning is a practice that has proven to have great benefits for our kids exploring the pace, path, and place of learning. There is much to learn from IDEO and we are thankful to MISBO and sponsoring partners.”