How to develop innovative and highly effective solutions in the field of early childhood that can be adapted and applied to more segments of the population?
That is the proposal of iLab, a social innovation laboratory that accelerates the development of projects guided by scientific knowledge so that they positively impact the development of children in vulnerable situations and have the potential for scale.
To achieve the results it proposes, the iLab uses its own methodology, called IDEAS Impact FrameworkTM, which was developed by Frontiers of Innovation (FOI)* — the Research & Development platform of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.
THE IDEAS Impact FrameworkTM is based on three main components: structured materials, a clear theory of change, and a precise evaluation plan. The interrelationship between them allows for the identification of what works for whom and why. When designing solutions for audiences in specific conditions and environments, it allows for the increased impact of the proposed solution — and this is the great differential of the methodology.
The word IDEAS is an acrostic of five English verbs: innovate, develop, evaluate, adapt, and scale. This structured yet flexible approach guides teams through the stages of development, implementation, evaluation, and rapid cycle iteration of a project.
Each solution proposed by the project team goes through a testing cycle, which allows the idea to be evaluated in terms of feasibility and/or effectiveness. As the pilot shows positive results, the format allows for an increase in scale and evaluation rigor. However, if the proposed solution does not work as expected, it is again adapted and tested in a short cycle, to then be re-evaluated. Thus, it seeks to speed up the process and, at the same time, develop reliability.
For more information on the IDEAS Impact FrameworkTM methodology, go to the Frontiers of Innovation page.
* THE IDEAS Impact FrameworkTM is a joint initiative of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, the Center for Translational Sciences at the University of Oregon, and the University of Washington College of Education.
The iLab started in 2015 and currently has six projects from various regions of Brazil in its portfolio. Four are in the initial phase of pilot testing, and two are in a more advanced phase of a randomized controlled study (a method used to test the effectiveness of the proposed approach). The difference between both phases is in the rigor of the evaluation, and the number of people reached.
The theme of the projects involves early childhood education or parenting, and all project teams receive technical support throughout the process, through face-to-face meetings and distance mentoring, in addition to financial support.