When the Stars Align: A New Constellation of Innovation | EdSurge News

By Samantha Becker and Seth Greenberg     May 7, 2018

Innovation is happening all over higher education today—but it is happening in islands, pockets and clusters. Around the country it’s happening at large four-year public institutions like Arizona State University and small two-year colleges like Wayfinding Academy in Oregon. On campuses, it’s happening in the Office of the President, where grand visions find their footing, and in the office of an instructional designer, who may be helping a faculty member create their first course integrating VR content. Each of these institutions are home to optimistic changemakers: people who are passionate about supporting engaging, relevant learning experiences that are accessible and affordable to all.But who are these people?At the end of April, about 130 of these “dreamers, doers, and drivers” gathered for an unconference at Arizona State University’s research center, EdPlus, under the umbrella idea of Shaping the Future of Learning in the Digital Age. The event was brainchild of ASU’s new CIO, Lev Gonick, and co-convened by 13 institutions and organizations, and included representatives from industry as sponsors and thought partners. The backdrop of ASU was a fitting one; Edplus represents arguably the largest innovation hub at any higher ed institution and the university more broadly has been recognized as the most innovative school in the country by US News and World Report, in part for leading the charge for more accessible, affordable education.The format of the event is worth reflecting on. Intimate events for increased information sharing, network-building, and cross-campus collaboration are becoming more popular. And the unconference format enables participants to engage with major themes—and each other—in ways that deeply resonate with them.Even in a space where everyone was bound to have their own institutional and personal agendas, we saw several themes emerge, some of which become became fodder for “neighborhood” action-oriented discussions.1: Innovation in the NeighborhoodsAs participants leveraged the power of ideation and design thinking, along with a helpful tool called Ideation360, here are a few of the ideas that bubbled to the top:How to foster personalized learning environments (PLEs):Understanding the implications and use cases of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality VR) — categorized as extended reality (XR), along with artificial intelligence (AI);More effective understanding of how to use data and analytics to measure learning and drive decision-making;Applying micro-credentials to recognize all forms of learning;How to nurture the next generation of diverse, university leadersRise of new organizational models for collaborationEach of these topics shared more questions than answers. A collection of popular tweets represents the ideas that inspired the group:Additionally, many of these topics have been explored in depth by recent Horizon Reports (annual industry research now under the purview of EDUCAUSE). That shouldn’t be a surprise; many of the unconference attendees contributed to those reports in the past. The difference was the encouragement of design-thinking around these ideas, making for dynamic contributions in real-time with a broader set of perspectives.2: Forging Authentic, Cross-Institutional RelationshipsThere is some irony in having conversations about authentic learning in the digital age while packing 130 people into the same room for a face-to-face gathering. And yet, strengthening old relationships and forging new ones is invaluable when there is so much to be shared across institutions —whether they are one or ten thousand miles apart. Participants hailed from as far as Australia, reinforcing the notion that US institutions have something to learn from our fellow post-secondary leaders across the Atlantic and the Pacific.Events like the unconference at ASU can catalyze the creation of networks. Look no further than the University Innovation Alliance (UIA) to see the power of multiple institutions working together to share data for the purpose of better student outcomes. In fact, Anne Keehn, Founder of Quantum Thinking, based in Washington DC, led discussions to describe how unconference relationships could lead into similar “Academic Innovation Networks.”One such initiative that recently launched is the CoAction Learning Lab at Penn State, which is incubating and prototyping a global higher education collaboratory of senior leaders, faculty and students to c

Source: When the Stars Align: A New Constellation of Innovation | EdSurge News