Click image to view slide show

Four iCubed Identities

Most business and national leaders recognize the necessity of innovation as a core competency for their future success, yet few actually know what it is and how to develop it. Developing the capacity to innovate and create starts in school with our children.

In 1999, Tom Rudmik developed the iCubed model, with its four identities:

I0 - Researcher (Manager)

I1 - Engineer (Technician)

I2 - Designer (Innovator)

I3 - Visionary (Inventor)

Effect of Traditional Education

Most people, however, have never been trained to function effectively in the identities of innovator and inventor. Consequently, these areas have atrophied. The ability to imagine and create is thwarted very early on in a person's life as they are introduced to the industrial age system of education, which demands conformity, compliance and giving the 'correct' answer.

Education At PLI Schools

At schools of Profound Learning, we believe that every student should be able to take on the role of the appropriate iCubed Identity™ depending on what the context requires. Therefore, teachers design experiences that help to facilitate the development of each of these four identities. At schools of Profound Learning, students are becoming researchers, engineers, designers and visionaries of the future.


Click image to view slide show


What drives people to do what they do has been an area of study by researchers and philosophers for centuries. Recently, Daniel Pink wrote a book entitled "Drive", which lays out the fundamental precept that extrinsic reward or punishment is not a primary motivator for human behaviour. Daniel Pink espouses that autonomy, mastery and purpose are the three primary criteria for people to be intrinsically motivated.

At PLI, we add a fourth motivator, vision, which takes intrinsic motivation to an even higher level. To be vision-driven is different than being purpose driven; vision driven people invariable end up being history makers exhibiting levels of courage, initiative, persistence and perseverance that is not commonly found with most people.

Autonomy (QL)

The iCubed Learning™ Model uses the Quality Learning framework to create autonomy with students and teachers. Quality Learning at its core is all about empowerment. It was Deming's belief that the people best able to improve the system are those that are working closest to the area that needs improvement. In education, it is the students (knowledge workers) who are best able to improve their own learning.

Mastery (IBL)

Intrinsic motivation is primarily driven by a person experiencing success. Nobody wants to keep doing something that results in failure or poor performance. The iCubed Learning™ Model uses Inquiry Based Learning as a way of engaging students deeply with a known knowledge base leading them through a process of higher order thinking and application resulting in mastery.

Purpose (DBL)

Giving students authentic and meaningful Design Based Learning experiences driven by their own personal passion is how purpose is attained. DBL experiences are driven by the creative tension generated between what the student envisions for the future and the current reality. Throughout their learning, students engage in various DBL experiences. In high school, a specialized program has been created called i.d.School that immerses students into the world of design thinking, innovation and creativity.

Vision and Calling

Students at schools of Profound Learning are introduced to the 5 Keys for unlocking the iCubed Life™. A vision is generally attached to cause. It is a picture of the future that you have been called to create. Students learn these principles not knowing when in life they will actually engage deeply with the vision to which they will be called. History has shown that people who are driven by vision cannot be held back. At schools of Profound Learning, our graduate profile states that our students will be able to pursue their personal vision without limitation.


Click image to view slide show

The iCubed Learning™ Model was developed by Profound Learning Research Institute at Master's Academy and College, designed to activate and train students in all four identities. In iCubed Learning™, the role of the instructor is to intentionally create the context in which the four iCubed Identities™ can be developed.

Students within the inquiry-based (I0) context engage with learning by resolving a problem requiring them to research what is already known.

Students within a quality learning (I1) context engage with quality tools and processes to design solutions that improve the performance of a system. The starting point is the current condition or the "HERE".

The design-based learning (I3) context seeks to identify a scenario in the future, the "THERE", that is quite removed from the constraints of the current condition, the "HERE". Students become designers of the future by envisioning the future first, which creates tension between the "THERE" and the "HERE" that will drive the design process.

PLRI has developed detailed frameworks and best practices that guide the teacher in the design and delivery for each of these learning experiences. These experiences are vastly different and require the teacher and students to change their roles within the classroom.

Creating Tension Within Instructional Design

Much of our human behaviour is driven by the need to resolve tension, and so it is with learning. The tension that drives learning is different for each of the three learning models.

Inquiry/Problem-Based Learning

For inquiry/problem-based learning, the teacher designs a project that creates mental tension (the need to know). Students are given a problem within an authentic real-world situation. Research and deductive & analytical reasoning resolve this mental tension.

Quality Learning

System tension (dissatisfaction of the current system) drives the quality learning experience. Students engage with system improvement as engineers, doing root cause analysis and testing hypotheses for improvement, which resolves this system tension.

Design-Based Learning

Creative tension (a gap between vision and current reality) is what drives design-based learning. This type of tension is generated when the "THERE" cannot be reached from "HERE", therefore an innovative solution must be designed.

I1 -Quality Learning resulting in Autonomy

Benefits of Quality-Based Learning

By applying Deming's principles towards improving learning, students, teachers and administrator behave more as members of the same team than adversaries. By focusing on system as the main cause of the "problems" (they are really symptoms of the system), the focus shifts away from the typical blame game.

Education has been scrutinized, criticized and evaluated by parents, students, teachers, administrators, politicians and the business community, all of whom agree that change must take place. Everyone is "pointing the finger" at each other, looking for change. ...if parents would raise their children better, if the media would stop all the negative influences, if teachers would show more commitment to their profession, if business was more concerned with social issues instead of bottom line profits, ... if...if... It is time to stop the blaming game. QBL says that we are all a part of the problem and we need to all be a part of creating solutions.

Schools using QBL have found the following benefits:

Students enjoy:

  • a sense of empowerment and ownership
  • improved learning outcomes
  • greater engagement
  • increased responsibility for their learning
  • better relationships with teachers and peers
  • higher levels of cooperation and trust
  • more fun learning at school

Teachers Experience:

  • renewed enthusiasm for teaching
  • reduced stress
  • improvement in student achievement
  • better relationships with students
  • improved teamwork with students, peers and leaders

Principals Report:

  • a more calm, focused and productive environment
  • improved leadership capacity across the school
  • a focus on improvement throughout the school
  • a renewed sense of purpose with stronger goal alignment
  • greater collaboration and cooperation
  • increased parental support
Quality-Based Learning (QBL)

QBL finds its origins from Edward Deming's continuous improvement philosophy. The quality foundational principles are shown in the diagram on the left. Simply put, Deming believed that the primary cause of variation in quality, was the system and not the people. Using a structured process called PDSA, a system can be improved by planned change. By discovering the root causes of the variation, planned changes can be implemented and studied with the goal of reducing variation, hence improving the overall system performance.

One of Deming's 14 principles involves the empowerment of people. It is the people doing the work who are best able to improve a process. Schools that are using Quality Learning principles have empowered students and teachers to apply the Continuous Improvement philosophy to their own learning and teaching.

PDSA Cycle

The PDSA cycle provides a structure by which on engages with the improvement initiative. During the Plan stage, numerous tools are used to collect, analyze and interpret data that leads to an understanding of the root causes that are causing the effects we wish to improve. This approach takes us away from the quick fix syndrome that invariably puts a temporary bandaid on a symptom but rarely effects real system change.

Once understanding has been achieved by the initial root cause analysis, a hypothesis of a solution is proposed and implemented (Do) on a small scale to see if the system will actually improve. Once it has been determined (Study) that the proposed solution does work, it can be standardize for the entire system (Act).


IBL - Inquiry Based Learning - Mastery

Education today has the tremendous task of preparing students for a future that does not yet exist and cannot be predicted. With the growth of technologies in today's world, memorization is no longer the key to success. Instead, students need to be equipped with the skills of finding, interpreting and using information in order to prevail. Essentially, our education system needs to teach students how to teach themselves with the result of Mastery with the essential knowledge.

In an IBL project, students are given a real-world problem to solve. The process begins with an onslaught of questions generated by the students. What are the conditions? What is causing the people to be unhappy? Is this happening anywhere else in the world? Where do I go to gather data? Is this data reliable? How do I know? Because there is no 'right' answer, the students set out to explore all of the possible solutions, make a decision as to which solution seems most beneficial based on data and finally, present their solution along with reasoning for their decision. There is a sense of ownership as students work their way through the IBL process. The teacher's role is no longer to provide pre-determined answers, but rather to give direction to the students through feedback, most often in the form of more questions.

The Buck Institute for Education states rigorous and in-depth Inquiry/Project Based Learning as:

  • being organized around an open-ended Driving Question or Challenge

  • creating a need to know essential content and skills

  • requiring inquiry to learn and/or create something new

  • requiring critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication

  • allowing some degree of student voice and choice

  • incorporating feedback and revision

  • resulting in a publicly presented product or performance

Inquiry-based learning provides an exploratory environment where students practice the skills that will allow them to become both self-directed and life-long learners. This method focuses on the development of skills and the nurturing of inquiring attitudes, research skills, information processing and problem-solving skills. Students take responsibility for their own learning when they learn to

  • generate questions leading to inquiry

  • access relevant information

  • accurately interpret the data

  • make decisions for how to use the information

  • report on their learning, and

  • assess their progress in learning throughout the process

The word 'inquiry' itself means a searching for truth, information or knowledge by questioning and implies a need or want to know. This thinking is what drives an IBL project.


Inquiry-based learning can be seen in its early stages as far back as the age of Socrates and his method of leading students to self-knowledge through aggressive questioning, not only to arrive at an answer but to also gain fundamental insight into the issue at hand. At the beginning of the 20th century, John Dewey felt that education must begin with the curiosity of the learner and build child-centered learning based on real world experiences. He believed that education should provide the student not only with content knowledge but the ability to learn how to live.

IBL also has roots in the constructivism theories proposed by Seymour Papert and Jean Piaget, which say that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiences and reflecting on those experiences. As such, metacognition, or an awareness and understanding of one's own thought processes, is embedded in the IBL process.

Today, as our world continues to change at a rapid rate, so must our education system. Master's Academy & College has adopted the IBL process as one way of preparing students for the future.


  • IBL provides students the opportunity to

  • Become self-directed learners

  • Develop life-long learning skills

  • Become critical thinkers and problem solvers

  • Integrate skills and knowledge from numerous disciplines

  • Become motivated and driven by passion and interest areas

  • Become self-reliant

  • Become effective team members, learning to use and foster collaboration and interpersonal skills

  • Learn questioning skills

  • Develop metacognitive skills

  • Build research skills


I2/3 -Design Based Learning with Purpose

Indeed there is no doubt: We are living in an increasingly complex and inter-dependent world in these early years of the 21st Century. It is in fact very difficult to keep up with the change and complexity at which our environment, organizations, and lives are undergoing. In spite of the myriad models and forecasts about the future, we really have very little idea about what it will actually look like, and yet, as Sir Ken Robinson states, we are supposed to be educating our children for it--for a future about which we are completely uncertain.

design is creative & adaptable:

While the future may not be entirely predicted, it can be modeled and indeed designed. In fact, the power of Design is in its unending creativity, thus addressing the demands of complexity, and its ability to iterate adaptable solutions through ever-changing conditions. This is why Design is being used in myriad contexts to solve the many problems of our world. Hence, Design is a critical skill-set for any student to master as he/she journeys through the 21st Century.

design is multi-disciplinary:

The power of Design also lies in its multi-disciplinary nature; its ability to synthesize areas of human knowledge into a practical, functional, and beautiful solution. Hence, Design is a way for students to integrate the diverse and seemingly unrelated subjects of learning into creative and practical solutions to problems.

design is inclusive:

Design involves the inclusivity of many different skills, talents, experiences, and areas of expertise; in fact, the stronger the diversity of vantage points, the stronger the design. Hence, Design takes the diversity of each student and creates contexts for it to be applied to the problem at hand, which enhances self-worth and edifies individual creativity and cultivation.

design is learning by doing:

The I3 Design-Based Learning Model educates, trains, and nurtures each student to be designers of the future by applying the creative process and lessons in the process and tools of design to the problems of our world. Assessment is primarily process oriented. While there is indeed a theoretical component to the DBL Program, it is very much based on a 'learning by doing' approach, in which students are assessed based on their participation in the creative process.


Students will theoretically and practically learn and experience the various roles within the design process, from visionaries and synthesizers, to engineers and builders. Through these roles, they will also gain a better understanding of their own strengths and points of vantage within the creative process.

human knowledge:

The I3 DBL Model is intellectually rigorous and it promotes breadth of learning and application of ideas and information. Students will be engaged in areas of study across the continuum of human knowledge, which will enhance their ability to 'see' in creative and stimulating ways and apply that learning to the building of educated solutions. They will learn about the history and theories of design, as well as engage in focused learning about other areas of human thought. By working in this way, they will begin to see connections in their studies that were prior left unseen; they will begin to manifest a greater level of mastery of their subject-matter by envisaging creative contexts in which it can be applied.


There are tools and principles used universally by designers. Whether they be tools such as systems mapping and graphic modeling or knowledge management and documentation, students will be learning skills that can be transferred into numerous professional contexts. Students will be given hands-on contexts to learn and appropriate tools and principles of design, and provided with ways for them to be applied in a creative and pedagogical environment.

seven step creative process:

The seven step creative process model is the basic process framework. The creative process is dynamic and iterative, and can not be distilled into a linear process. That being said, creativity is a process and a discipline that can be developed and matured and is not limited to the arts. Innovation and creativity is the hallmark of today's global creative economy and needs to be applied into all aspects of business and in life.

The design-based learning (I3) context, seeks to identify a scenario in the future, the "THERE", that is quite removed from the constraints of the current condition; the "HERE". Students become designers of the future by envisioning the future first, which creates tension between the "THERE" and the "HERE" that will drive the design process.

Sir Ken Robinson

"Sir Ken led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements."

This text will be replaced

Robinson and Creativity

This text will be replaced

Robinson - Education Kills Creativity

This text will be replaced

Considering the age and maturity of students when implementing the iCubed Learning™ Model is essential. The model below is a picture of how it might look in a K-12 scenario. The implementation model below is meant to stir your thinking and not restrict how the iCubed Learning™ Model is put into action.

Early Years

Early Years

Early Years - Gr. K-3

During the early formative years in school the primary focus will be on core skill development such as literacy and numeracy. Students will learn about their world by engaging in Inquiry based learning to solve challenges or problems. Students will discover and construct meaning as they research what is already known. Many forms of teaching, including direct instruction, will be used to teach core concepts.

Middle Years

Middle Years

Middle Years - Gr. 4-8

Students autonomy is achieved through the deployment of Quality Learning. The basic understanding of systems thinking, Blooms taxonomy of thinking, EQS, rework, Deming and Langford quality tools, specific creativity tools and processes etc. will be taught. Quality Learning gives "legs" to Inquiry Based Learning.

Senior Years

Senior Years

Senior Years - Gr. 9-12

Students in the older grades will begin to engage with the world of design and the design of the world in i.d.School. Students have greater autonomy and ownership of their DBL projects which often will have a social entrepreneurial focus.



Future Ready Graduate Profile

The graduates from a School of Profound Learning will have developed skills in all four iCubed identities. Graduates will be able to pursue their personal vision without limitation by:

  • Activating imagination
  • Releasing creativity to
  • Innovate
  • Invent
  • Willingness to risk
  • Becoming leaders and history-makers
  • Having a spirit of exploration
  • Walking in the realm of unlimited possibilities with God
  • Achieving academic success