the OneVille Project

My colleagues at the OneVille Project are building a whole set of tools that teachers, parents, students, and other key community members can use to communicate in the interests of particular kids. The underlying theory is that communication among key players (both inside and outside of schools) about kids’ needs, performance, and opportunities can improve their learning–if we figure out who needs to communicate what and how.

We know (from work by James Coleman, Robert Putnam and others) that “social capital” in communities strongly influences student outcomes. “Social capital” is usually measured as the density of relationships and memberships, along with psychological traits such as trust in other people (generically). But perhaps the real work is being done by communication, and if we could increase the amount and timeliness of relevant and reliable information, we could improve results.

Some of the OneVille tools are digital, such as an online dashboard for each student that teachers share with parents. Some of the tools are electronic but do not rely on computers; they use telephones or text messaging instead. Some are not electronic at all. All are designed in very close consultation with community members, who sometimes want labor-saving tools for accomplishing what teachers or parents are required to do already, rather than add-ons.

Because the tools are in development and are meant for confidential use by Somerville (MA) residents, you can’t just explore them. But the project team is blogging at and their posts are substantive and challenging.