Boston Public Schools (BPS) has adopted Community PlanIt, a web-based social network created by Emerson Associate Professor of Visual Media Arts Eric Gordon that turns community planning into a game. The school system is using the game for a 35-day trial period to get input on designing standards for gauging school performance from students, teachers, parents, and administrators.
Every few days, BPS assigns a new “mission” that includes dozens of thought exercises based on one of the ways local schools are evaluated. For example, a mission called “Proficiency” leads with a secret-agent-style video introducing the concept, according to Andrew Phelps of the Neiman Journalism Lab.
Participants are asked to answer cerebral multiple-choice questions and essays, some with graphics and maps. An example: “How much do you agree with the following statement: Some students should get more than 4 years to graduate — and schools should be given credit for getting these students to graduate eventually? Explain your answer in a comment.”
At the end of the trial, all of the participants are invited to a special in-person meeting to talk about what they learned.
The first Community PlanIt pilot happened earlier this year in Lowell, Massachusetts, which sought community input on that city’s master plan.
Gordon won a grant from the Knight Foundation to fund the project.