As I prepare for the start of the ELI conference (#ELI2016) in a few hours, I’m reminded again of the importance and value of diverse networks and good collaborators in driving innovation. Not only are my perspectives enriched and broadened, but collectively we can accelerate the rate of progress. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of many successful collaborative groups over the years, but right now two are top of mind.
First, is the Collective for Academic Innovation and Transformation (CAIT). We’re an ad hoc group composed of MJ Bishop (@DrMJBishop) of the Univ System of Maryland’s Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, Alan Girelli (@AlanGirelli) of the Center for Innovation and Excellence in eLearning at the Univ of Massachusetts Boston, Larry Ragan (@LCR1) of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning at Penn State Univ, Lisa Stephens (@SailorStephens) of the SUNY System, and myself (@CMSax) of Academic Outreach and Innovation at Shippensburg Univ (@ShipPCDE).
We began eighteen months ago with the idea of finding a way to consistently tag our individual institutional faculty research and development seed grants. We now find ourselves with a robust matrix (the CAIT Matrix; #CAITmatrix; CAIT Matrix website) that can be used not only for the original intended purpose, but also to link similarly-focused individuals and projects across institutions, link projects and grants to national initiatives and funding sources, and drive innovation. In addition, our group has now become a community which shares opportunities and learning with each other on an ongoing basis … this team is a treasure!
Second, is the Southcentral Pennsylvania Education Collaborative (SPEC). We’re a regional network of fourteen PK20 educational institutions – ten school districts, one career and technology center, two intermediate units, and Shippensburg University. Our purpose is to engage in activities designed to meet the common STEM education and technology-enhanced education needs of our students, teachers, and faculty. I’ve had the very good fortune to co-found and co-lead this group with Chris Royce (@CARoyce), Chair of the Teacher Education Department at Shippensburg Univ and a nationally recognized STEM education expert.
SPEC also formed eighteen months ago, and together we’ve engaged in a peer exchange among PK12 teachers and university teacher education faculty, developed two PK12 teacher workshops focused on integrating science and literature, and ESL instructional strategies, and have submitted grants to fund future educational activities. Right now we’re working on a May event – Tech Day in the Valley. Really looking forward to this BYOD event … not quite a conference, not quite an EdCamp … but definitely a day of teachers learning from one another about using all sorts of devices in teaching and learning. Through this work I’ve learned much about the PK12 world, and have often been struck by how far ahead some are in educational technology … this is a sector to watch!
The work of CAIT and SPEC could perhaps have been done independently. But, the diversity of thought has made the work stimulating, the critical mass has accelerated the path to outcomes, and the camaraderie has made it fun! Thanks, folks, for being part of my “mastermind group“!