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1 Mar

The NITLE Innovation Studio blog has a new home: http://innovationstudio.nitle.org/ Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds. Sorry for the inconvenience.

 

What Is the NITLE Innovation Studio?

20 Feb

Innovation by Thomas Hawk

The Innovation Studio began with a challenge.  When I was talking about the NITLE Symposium with the ever-innovative Dave Wedaman, he asked what it take to transform a conference from a passive listening event to an active doing event, where people come together to construct knowledge. Brilliant question! With Dave, Joe Murphy, Rebecca Davis, members of the NITLE Symposium Program Committee, and others at NITLE, I began thinking through what such a leadership development program would entail. I articulated some basic design requirements: it should foster collaboration, creative problem solving, and concrete outcomes. It should help people develop the skills and portfolio to take their careers to the next level. It should also get away from the problem that plagues many workshops: you come, pick up some new skills and ways of thinking, but then return to the bustle of your regular life, with little opportunity to practice what you learned.

To design what I hope will be a transformative leadership development experience, I looked at a number of models, particularly design thinking and entrepreneurship education. These models hold several appeals. First, they embrace learning by doing. Second, they recognize the importance of working collaboratively to integrate different perspectives and skill-sets.  Most importantly, they articulate a process for problem solving that emphasizes understanding the needs of the user community, defining the problem that you are trying to solve, and creating and testing prototypes.  Learning is at the core.

Not only does the Innovation Studio aim to help leaders hone their skills as innovators, but also to cultivate innovative solutions to thorny challenges facing liberal education. Among the challenges proposed by the Innovation Scholars are: supporting open access publishing; integrating information technology skills across the curriculum; using ethnographic studies to shape the future of library services; establishing structures, tools and processes for collaboration and information sharing; and linking together classes in different locations to foster collaborative (even global) learning. This week the Innovation Scholars will pitch their project ideas in two-minute videos. The Studio members will select the top three or four projects, then break up into teams to develop them.

The Studio curriculum takes participants through a series of challenges with the end goal of enabling them to develop a product–a web site, piece of software, organization, grant application, toolkit, curriculum, etc.–that promises to have an impact on liberal education. Steps in this process include defining the problem, gathering user input, generating ideas, creating (and iterating upon) a business model, developing and testing prototypes, and building customer and financial development models. The Studio supports this learning by offering a structure, a set of resources (readings, videos, and tools), and access to mentors (who will be named publicly soon).

Designing the Innovation Studio presented its own thorny challenge: how to create a rich, project-based learning experience that combines an intense face-to-face experience with ongoing online interactions. Given that the participants in the Studio are busy professionals, it was unrealistic to expect that they could take three months away from their lives to work on their projects face-to-face at a startup incubator. However, using online collaboration tools, they can work in distributed teams to build their projects. The Innovation Scholars will come together face-to-face at the 2012 NITLE Symposium, where they will embody the conference’s theme of “Inventing the Future.” At the Symposium, the Innovation Scholars will pitch their ideas, receive feedback from mentors and the NITLE community, gather user input, and work hard to refine their projects. They will unveil their work at an online Demo Day to be held at the end of the summer. What makes the Innovation Studio go is not the technologies, but the people: the team members who have dedicated themselves to this process, the mentors who will guide them.

Like any startup, the Innovation Studio is itself an experiment, so we will be evaluating the program throughout, looking at the curriculum, the technologies, the mentoring, etc.  Does a particular online meeting tool support seamless engagement? Do Studio participants find it useful to learn about business model generation? We will find out, and we will use those insights to improve the Studio. I hope that what we learn through the Studio will benefit liberal education more generally, as we explore models for realizing the best practices of liberal education–research, civic engagement, collaboration–in an environment that blends online and face-to-face learning.

Announcing the Participants in the NITLE Innovation Studio

17 Feb

[cross-posted to NITLE’s Techne blog]

As the Coordinator of the NITLE Innovation Studio, I am pleased to announce the 14 people selected to join our first cohort of Innovation Scholars:

  • Kirk Anne, SUNY Geneseo
  • Jon Breitenbucher, The College of Wooster
  • Beth Du Pont, Skidmore College
  • Kathryn Frederick, Skidmore College
  • William (Tandy) Grubbs. Stetson University
  • Jennifer Jarson, Muhlenberg College
  • Diane Klare, Wesleyan University
  • Anne Marchant, Shenandoah University
  • Jay McDaniel, Hendrix College
  • Cristián Opazo, Vassar College
  • Veronica Pejril, DePauw University
  • Jeff Rosedale, Manhattanville College
  • Mark Sullivan, State University of New York at Geneseo
  • Karen Warren, Wesleyan University

As you can see from the participants’ profiles of themselves as innovators, they are collaborative, curious and creative (if too modest to call themselves “innovators”). At our first meeting yesterday, I was struck by the intelligence, openness, sense of humor and collegiality of the group, which includes faculty, instructional technologists, and librarians.

I applaud the Innovation Scholars for their enterprising spirit, as well as their home institutions for their support.  Stay tuned to see how the Studio unfolds.

Mark Sullivan

16 Feb

I have been the Systems Administrator for Milne library at SUNY Geneseo for the past eleven years while also working as the lead programmer and major proponent of the Information Delivery Services (IDS) Project.

The IDS Project is a New York State library cooperative consisting of over seventy libraries including public and private academic libraries, the New York Public Library, and the New York State Library.  These libraries have joined together to improve resource sharing across the state and are committed to providing improvements to the entire resource sharing community through the ongoing development of innovative tools and promotion of best practices.  Over the past eight years of working with the IDS Project, I have had the opportunity to create several new solutions, such as the Article License Information Availability Service (ALIAS) and the Transaction Performance Analysis Module (TPAM), as well as over twenty addons for the ILLiad client (Addon Directory).

Most recently I have been working on the Getting It System Toolkit (http://www.gistlibrary.org/ ).  GIST for ILLiad is a collection of tools for use within ILLiad which allow for enhanced ILL and Acquisitions.  Also, I have been working on the GIST Gift and Deselection Manager which was released two years ago and provides libraries with a streamlined way of processing donations and gathering information on items that are being considered for weeding.

I am looking forward to the discussions we will be having over the next few months.

Jen Jarson

16 Feb

This “innovator” label feels slightly uncomfortable.  It feels too big, I think.  Too grand.  Yet, when I think of innovators I find inspiring, I come up short on names, yet think easily of characteristics.  To me, an innovator is a creative problem solver with some gumption.  An innovator leads.  An innovator listens, learns, changes, introduces, responds, recognizes.  An innovators emboldens.  I hesitate to think of innovators as only big people with big accomplishments, but instead look for innovation (and inspiration) in big and small.  It’s less the who and more the what and the how of innovation that I find most inspiring.  In these terms of daily work, then, of listening, learning, leading, and problem solving, I feel somewhat more comfortable.

As Head of Public Outreach and Information Literacy Services in Trexler Library at Muhlenberg College, I work in a variety of areas and on a variety of projects: from information literacy to academic computing to web design to assessment to collection development and more.  I am especially interested in issues of information literacy, technology literacy, pedagogy, and student learning outcomes.  I find my work’s real opportunities (and challenges) lie in collaborating with such a wide variety of different groups (e.g., other library staff, faculty, administrators, and students) as we collectively address common issues and challenges.  I really look forward to working with and learning from you all in the Studio and beyond.

Kathryn Frederick

16 Feb

I enjoy finding ways to reuse and repurpose existing technologies to meet changing needs. Working with and building upon what you already have available takes creativity and flexibility and, while not always successful, it is always challenging and fun. Innovators who I admire are people who built on great ideas to create something new. They also recognize that the products of innovation should be shared openly because this encourages further innovation. Tim Berners Lee and Linus Torvalds are both great innovators who embody that spirit of openness.

As Systems Librarian at Skidmore College, I’ve found myself involved in a number of exciting projects. I expect that the Innovation Studio will differ from other projects I’ve been involved with in two important ways: the collaboration that will take place with colleagues across multiple institutions; and the ability to participate in a project from inception to completion.

I’m thrilled to be part of NITLE’s Innovation Studio and look forward to working with all of you!

Beth Du Pont

15 Feb




When I think of the word “innovator”, I immediately think of someone or some “thing” that has changed the way people live their lives, preferably for the better. For example, here are my top 3 favorite innovators:

  1. Apple Computer – For technologies such as the iPhone, iPad, Siri, and Apps that have changed the way I live my life.
  2. Capresso – For making it possible for me to have a freshly ground cup of coffee, whatever strength I want, whenever I want it.
  3. The RoamEO dog collar – For making it possible to track my dogs (aka Lewis and Clark) when they disappear on a neighborhood trekking adventure.

I am not comfortable describing myself as an innovator. I prefer to describe myself as a creative problem solver. In my role at Skidmore College (Director of Academic Technologies), I often find myself in situations where I have to listen closely to others, gather perspectives, and participate in seeking solutions. The situation involved does not necessarily have to be a problem. It may include a challenge, an opportunity or something that needs improvement. Those of you who are Instructional Technologists might agree, we are always keeping an eye out for new innovations and then seeking out creative ways to introduce them to our faculty. We often have to help them find the benefit or value that an innovation holds for them, and then assist them along the path of adoption. According to the Wikipedia definition of creative problem solving, “To qualify as creative problem solving, the solution must either have value, clearly solve the stated problem, or be appreciated by someone for whom the situation improves.” This description seems to fit the way I see myself.

I am very excited to be a part of the Innovation Studio, and perhaps by the end of the process, I might be convinced that I do have an innovative streak. I look forward to meeting and working with the group.