Welcome to the NITLE Innovation Studio

6 Feb

[adapted from a post on NITLE’s Techne blog]

Liberal arts colleges face a number of thorny challenges, such as declining budgets, increasing competition, and disruptive transformations rooted in technology. To help prepare leaders who can collaborate, innovate, and produce concrete solutions to common problems, NITLE is launching a new leadership development program called the Innovation Studio. Inspired by start-up accelerators, design thinking and project-based learning, the Innovation Studio offers a structure for librarians, information technologists, academic support staff, and other qualified candidates from across the NITLE Network to tackle thorny challenges. This competitive program is designed to produce two significant results: innovative solutions to critical issues in liberal education and a set of entrepreneurial, knowledgeable leaders well-prepared to help build a robust future for liberal education.

What to expect
The Innovation Studio offers a continuous experience in four discrete stages, blending online engagement with intensive face-to-face work at the NITLE Symposium. (The Symposium takes place on April 16-17, 2012, in Alexandria, Virginia.) Throughout this structured process, mentors provide guidance to selected participants, helping them define problems, develop innovative solutions, validate solutions, create business models, build prototypes, and devise strategies to promote their innovations.

In the first stage, selected participants pitch project ideas in response to thorny challenges during an interactive online session. Based on which projects garner the most votes, two to four are selected to move forward. Participants choose the project with which they wish to affiliate and begin collaborative work with their teammates. During the second stage, teams gather at the NITLE Symposium to present their work to date to mentors and peers, receive guidance and feedback, and develop project plans and prototypes. They present these plans as “lightning talks” at the end of the Symposium. After the Symposium, teams enter the third stage, during which they continue to bring their projects to fruition; each team member commits approximately 3-5 hours of work per week to that effort. To ensure timely completion of projects, teams check in with mentors and participate in regular online meetings of the entire Studio. If projects need to be scaled up, some may be carried out in collaboration with NITLE Labs, which could offer assistance with project coordination, financial administration, access to the network of NITLE member colleges, and research support. Finally, project teams publish and present their results, including via an online “Demo Day” sponsored by NITLE during the summer of 2012.

The first cohort will begin its work in February of 2012.

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