This guide distills key lessons learned about scaling and sustaining innovation from ten projects involved in the Teagle Foundation’s “Faculty Work and Student Learning in the 21st Century” grant initiative. The grants were awarded in 2012-2013 to consortia and collaboratives of colleges (not formally a part of a consortium) as part of this initiative. The key focus of these grants was: how can and should faculty work change in response to the changing conditions—indeed, the changing nature—of undergraduate liberal education? And, how can liberal arts colleges maintain a quality, high-impact learning environment within a changing and challenging environment that requires innovation? The grants generally focused on ways to use technology and alter faculty roles/work in ways to address external challenges and maximize new concepts. This guidebook aims to help campuses overcome common barriers as they embark on significant initiatives and provide a blueprint for a smoother pathway through the complex process of change.
For technology-oriented innovations:
In addressing technology innovations, framing the change is particularly important as there are many who are leery of the intentions behind using technology. Starting with a political approach/understanding is important. Additionally, technology changes work best when implemented in a systemic way that attend to human resources, infrastructure, incentives, and data/information needs.
For innovations related to faculty roles:
Faculty roles proved extremely difficult to innovate around. Faculty roles require not just a systemic approach, but awareness of the difficulty in altering deeply held norms around faculty work. Altering such norms requires senior leaders to be involved in helping shepherd through the change. Yet, leaders found ways to make progress through the following strategies.
In addition to specific recommendations related to innovation and change in technology and faculty roles, the report offers many lessons related to scaling and sustaining changes. A few are summarized here but many more are offered in the full report:
- Faculty learning communities are valuable mechanisms for sustaining and scaling change.
- Individual faculty diffusion models alone do not work well, particularly for achieving scale.
- Be aware of and examine your theory of change; learn from the organizational change literature.
- Moving from a pilot to a change project requires intentional shifts in leadership.
- Create a plan around scale.
- The consortium can be a valuable hub of learning and ongoing communication.
- Consortial leaders can harness multiple constituent groups for innovation and gain the trust of each of these groups.
- The bolder the idea, the more need for communication.
- Consortia can create a safe space for experimentation.