Innovation Agenda for Wheelock
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Sylvia Earl Innovation Award
The Sylvia Earl Innovation Award is designed to inspire and support innovative work, ideas, and programs that use technology to enhance the Wheelock experience.
Wheelock College continuously invests in technology that enriches our campus experience, but the College's commitment to innovation extends much further than technology alone. In fact, our ongoing goal is to make innovation part of the very fabric of the College. As part of our drive to become one of the leading "Schools for Tomorrow," we are:
- Strengthening organizational practices;
- Enhancing support for teaching and learning through training, support, educational conferences, and more;
- Researching and investing in tools to improve work across the campus and in the classroom;
- Creating "incubators" or "sandboxes" that can support new ideas and efforts; and
- Developing internal and external partnerships to support the development and implementation of new ideas.
We believe that it will be through a process that involves many stages, including inspiration, evaluation, testing, training, deployment, measurement and reporting that will help Wheelock be an institution that prepares the best graduates to make a difference and to continue to improve the lives of children and families.
Four Key Areas of Focus
Wheelock's innovation agenda is focused on four key areas that we feel can have the greatest positive impact across the College:
- Student Experience
- External Partnership
Administrative: Based on assessments from outside advisors Jenzabar and CREDO, Wheelock is ensuring that all fundamental administrative systems are working effectively and that best practices for each area are being followed. The goal is to create workflow recommendations and technology enhancements that improve efficiency, customer support, and student experience.
Academic: Wheelock is determined to ensure that the great work our faculty is doing is being shared internally and externally. We will build on areas where the College is already a model, using training and education to enhance teaching and learning and to foster innovation. Specifically, we will:
- Promote and build on existing faculty strengths and expose community members to new ideas, concepts, and opportunities for current and future adoption.
- As technology changes, we will provide the training and support needed to ensure Wheelock community members effectively use all relevant technologies on campus and share best practices.
- Present "Learning Journeys" technology showcases, featuring experts with firsthand experience with the dramatic changes happening in higher ed and K-12 education across the country and around the world. This will include a full canvas of opportunities inside and beyond the classroom.
Student Experience: Wheelock is working to personalize the student experience to ensure every student is engaged, supported, and successful. In this effort we are:
- Using data analytics to examine student performance, demographics, and behavior patterns to generate early warning indicators.
- Examining new methods for delivering support services—such as Moodle and/or social media—to deliver just-in-time content and/or services for students available 24/7. This would be a collaborative effort among several departments an could be driven by data analytics.
- Considering new tools and techniques that will enhance the learning experience for students. Examples might include: a student E-Portfolio that would follow students their entire college journey and beyond or mentoring technology that facilitates matches between students and either peer or professional mentors or career services tools that support career search or employer connections.
- Evaluating social media opportunities to increase engagement with both current and prospective students in meaningful ways.
External Partnerships/New Opportunities: Local and global partnerships help Wheelock connect with the world and the nature and structure of the partnerships themselves provide opportunities for innovation. Wheelock will evaluate all current partnerships and encourage discussions across campus as well as with community agents, local officials, and current and potential global partners to explore opportunities.
The Aspire Institute has been and will continue to be a key engine for cultivating new ideas at Wheelock. The College will also create opportunities for individual concepts and ideas to be tested through:
- Wheelock Family Theatre partnerships and programs
- Sylvia Earl Innovation Award Technology Grants
- The Earl Center for Learning and Innovation
- Creation of micro grants
- Funding for learning journeys and conferences
- Non-traditional partnerships
Oversight and Measurement Structure
To support all aspects of the institution and to encourage innovation, the College will create small, nimble advisory groups responsible for setting goals and measurement standards for each of the four focus areas. These four advisory groups will be charged with keeping their finger on the pulse of the fast-changing higher ed innovation landscape and deciding where Wheelock should invest its money and time. Each group will meet monthly.
A larger group consisting of representatives from each advisory group, as well as institutional leadership and trustees, will also be formed. This larger group will serve as a sounding board for all efforts and ideas, a place where efforts that cross areas can be coordinated, and as an advocate to the administration and the Board of Trustees on issues surrounding key decisions in direction and investment as it aligns with the College's Strategic Plan.
There will be open communication ensuring transparency in all areas of work will be coordinated through a robust communication plan for the Wheelock Community. Schedules and updates regarding the work being done will be communicated though multiple channels including: