Go to Content
Columbia College Chicago
Convergence Academy Model
Print this PageEmail this Page

Convergence Academy Model

The Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) at Columbia College Chicago, in partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), was selected to receive a $3 million grant from the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3 Fund) of the U.S. Department of Education. Only 20 grantees were chosen from more than 700 applications for this highly competitive grant. More information about the i3 Fund can be found here.

Through 2015, CCAP is conducting a project called "Convergence Academies." Drawing on the resources and expertise of Columbia College Chicago, CCAP is creating a whole school model that supports 21st Century learning by integrating digital media and technology into curriculum, instruction, learning, and culture across an entire school. The project is based at Morrill Math and Science School and Tilden Career Community Academy, serving approximately 1,200 students and 50 CPS teachers each year. 

Convergence Academies strives to develop 21st century citizens that are prepared to make informed decisions, explore and discover new knowledge, and synthesize multiple ideas in an ever changing digital media world. In addition to being literate in math, science and history, students from Convergence Academies will also be media literate through our participatory culture of learning.



This whole-school model includes:

  • Creation of a K-16 continuum in digital media learning aligned to Common Core state standards;
  • Curriculum that integrates digital media across all subjects including science, math and language arts;
  • Opportunities for students to explore learning pathways connecting the school day to out-of-school networks;
  • Intensive professional development for CPS teachers to build long-term capacity and sustainability;
  • The Digital Atelier, a multimedia studio and digital maker station that encourages creativity, play, critical media consumption and design thinking using new technologies


Philosophy of Digital Learning and Engagement

The Convergence Academies aim to provide the most relevant and real-world experiences for their students. The Academies have identified six pillars that inform the whole school culture:

  • Collaboration
  • Play
  • Choice of Expression
  • Authentic Participation
  • Critical Response
  • Iterative Learning

K-16 Digital Media Continuum

These six pillars are present in all aspects of the school (curriculum, classrooms, professional development and after-school programming).

The Convergence Academy curriculum will be aligned to Common Core State Standards and selected National Standards and will have a deliberate sequence the interweaves both the knowledge and skills of digital media but also the practices. 


Convergence Academies' Instructional Model 

Learning with a Convergence Academy classroom will be designed to model today’s interconnected, collaborative nature around media consumption through a culture of  “participatory learning”. In the Convergence Learning Instructional Model students own their learning and participate in an iterative learning process where they…

Connect with multiple people, resources and ideas.

  • With multiple sources of content
  • With diverse individuals (both in and out of school)
  • Critique and discuss others thoughts, work and ideas
  • Collaborate with others

Consume information from multiple forms.

  • Reading from text resources
  • Explore visual resources (images, video)
  • Engage with non-static resources (blogs, crowd sourcing sites)

Create products that synthesize current thinking with a purpose to engage others.

    • Synthesize community thinking to push the collective conversation  
    • Advocate for a local issue or idea
    • Provocative, provide a vehicle for self-expression 


The Convergence Instructional Learning model provides a framework to help educators think about the role of digital media within learning and provides the necessary supports in how to develop digital literate citizens. 


Convergence Model


The goal of the project is to raise student achievement and  graduation rates, and increase technology and media literacy skills that students and teachers need to succeed in the 21st century.

This project is a scaled-up concept based on CCAP's TEAM (Transforming Education through the Arts and Media) project which has had considerable success in increasing student engagement.