Convergence Academies

Bringing digital imagination and real world relevance

to the nexus of teaching and learning. 

what do we do?

Teacher's Guide

We support teachers as experienced designers of deep and connected learning experiences that aim to bring relevance, social interaction, personal interest, meaning and engagement to students while also building their academic knowledge. Cultivating this type of learning within schools requires on-going investment from teachers, school leaders and staff and we have thus put a great deal of effort into providing the resources and supports necessary to succeed.

Convergence Frameworks

To help integrate participatory learning practices into a digitally enriched classroom, we have developed two frameworks that can inform the design of rich learning experiences: the Six Pillars of Instructional Design and the 3C’s: Connect, Consume, Create. These integral frameworks are consistently referred to and used while designing, implementing, assessing and reflecting on units, lessons and activities.

Design Studio: Blended PD Model

We work with teachers to establish and nurture trusting, collaborative relationships within a professional learning community. Strong, trusting relationships provide a rich context for teachers and their collaborators to design and implement inquiry-driven and project based units that harness the power of networks, social media and digital production to support deep, connected learning.

what does it look like?


    We invite students to become protagonists of their own learning. As a student-centered, interest-powered site, the Digital Atelier encourages curiosity, safe exploration, creativity and real-world connectivity. The Digital Atelier also serves as the physical manifestation of the Convergence Academies model – a Connected Learning framework underpinned by our Six Pillars.


    We document our process and post those findings to our blog. This is a co-authored sites that shares our field notes and reflections throughout our work.


    News in the Age of Convergence is a series of units designed by teachers in collaboration with media integration specialists and journalists from the Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago.

why do we do it?

Theory of Action

During the last decade, the information explosion and the Internet/social media revolution has radically altered our society. As a result, data and research show that young people now learn best when they experience learning that is “social, participatory, interest-driven and relevant to the opportunities of the time” (Ito).

Students need a new culture of learning inside schools to reflect what is happening in their learning lives outside of schools. Yet many teachers and educational leaders lack the supports they need to integrate this “new culture of learning” into everyday school culture, climate, curriculum and instructional practices.

Connected Learning

Connected Learning is a growing movement that aims to generate greater educational equity and opportunity for youth in the digital age. We are building a Connected Learning environment at Morrill, a K-8 elementary school located in Gage Park and Tilden, a high school located in the Back of the Yards. Connected Learning understands that we are experiencing the birth of a new culture of learning – an age where technology has dramatically changed the way we live, think, play, socialize and work.

who do we work with?


The Convergence Academies is a federally funded three-year model project led by the Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago. Convergence Academies is collaborating with many stakeholders to implement a whole school model that supports 21st Century learning by integrating digital media and technology into curriculum, instruction, and culture across an entire school.


Based on an application process, site visit, Principal interviews and corresponding evaluation rubric, we selected Morrill Math and Science School, a K-8th grade elementary school in the Chicago Lawn community area on the southwest side; and Tilden Career Community Academy, a 9th-12th grade high school located in the New City community area. These schools were chosen because of strong leadership and the overall readiness of the faculty to take full advantage of the the wealth of supports being offered.

Columbia College Fellows

Thirteen Columbia College Chicago faculty have been selected to serve as 2014/15 Convergence Academies Faculty Fellows by the Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP). Supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund (i3 Fund), the Fellowships will help faculty to advance creative practice, research, curriculum development and/or pedagogy that centers on authentic and experiential learning in a digitally networked context.