Learning Innovation – WE WANT YOU!


At many universities, Innovation Incubator’s are focused largely on entrepreneurial endeavors for local business.  In fact, it’s hard to find any colleges who have actually put resources and effort into an Innovation Incubator that aren’t solely seeking potential new revenue streams for the school, via small business start-ups either for students or with help from students.  Often focusing on software, robotics, or “clever” start-up solutions, these incubators are popping up left and right.

We get the value of entrepreneurialism…truly! This kind of innovation can be really powerful to a small but focused group of people and (eventually) may even pay back the significant and repeated investments by creating new revenue for a school. But at Saint Leo, we feel this prioritizes the wrong thing out of the gate.  Perhaps one day we will move toward social entrepreneurship, small-business catalysts, or other sector-specific work.

But for now, we have put a very important word in front of ‘innovation’ for our purposes: learning. Learning Innovation is our attempt to change learning, at scale, for anyone willing to put in some effort.  Note, we are not helping one teacher impact one class for one term.  While those innovations are crucial to the health of a course (and arguably to the career-arc of a professor), our incubator seeks to make changes at a much larger scale.  We’re after replicability, extrapolation, and efficacy measures, while focusing myopically on whether it improves learning.  We wish to leverage evidence based, or potentially add to existing, researched, learning experiences with connections to education psychology, cognitive science, learning analytics, education technology, etc.

Here are some of the projects the Learning Innovation team is working on right now under the heading, “Learning Innovation Incubator” – want to join in the fun?  Contact Greg Kunzweiler (352.588.6578 / for more information.

  • Whiteboard (formerly MeTL):

Imagine if every student in your synchronous experience was engaged in the creation of content for the class.  Imagine being able to see who is, and who is not actively participating while giving a platform to all students, not just the gregarious few who often like to dominate a discussion.  Imagine being able to see what notes students take and analyze them following a class period, seeing how well your instruction hit or missed the mark.  You have just imagined Saint Leo University’s Whiteboard tool.  Derived from MeTL, the ingenious creation of developers at Monash University, Saint Leo has been customizing and evolving this hyper-connection tool for the classroom for almost two years.  This Fall, our eWhiteboard will integrate into the new learning ecosystem (Lions SHARE), making it that much easier to work.  As well, significant development has been done making it easier to use tablets and now smart phones to join students to the conversation.  Learning Innovation is looking for 25-50 new Whiteboard faculty to harness the power of this tool and change the engagement story in their class(es).  For more specific information, contact Dr. Gordon Sanson (

  • My Saint Leo Minute:

WileCoyoteEmployers consistently suggest that the gap between student skills and required abilities are too great to overcome.  Survey data suggests that hiring organizations feel students have had little to no experience with “soft skills” (we hate that term…) like communication, leadership, or management.  Parents and students want to see more return on investment for college.  My Saint Leo Minute is a chance for students to detail a year’s worth of growth, in video form, to show the world just how “mature” they really are.  They can speak to special projects, team experiences, project management, and any other important work they have been involved with.  Learning Innovation needs help finding students and/or classes of students to pioneer this exciting social video project.

  • Learning Outcomes Web Application:

OutcomesMap2This year Saint Leo University is putting a multi-point strategy together to polish up our learning outcomes.  From a year of collaborative faculty development for all full-time faculty, to a Master Syllabus clean-up initiative to our new Assessment / ePortfolio solution and beyond, this is the year of the Outcome at Saint Leo!  Learning Innovation wanted to do support this effort by creating a new application that would actually help categorize, connect, and visualize outcomes across programs.  Working with a local design firm, we are building out a tool that colleges and universities have been requesting for years.  Please help us build out what should be a unique and powerful outcomes story!

  • Alternate Reality Learning Experience (I & II):

In 2015, Saint Leo got a lot of great press around our first Alternate Reality Learning Experience (ARLE): The Presidency.  9 classes from 7 different programs came together to stage a series of debates and ultimately an election for President of the United States.  In 2016, this curriculum integration event which creates interdependence among students will run again, but we are adding a second ARLE: The Trial of the Century will see a Saint Leo “crime” put into the system as students run every facet of the experience from prosecutor to defendant to expert witness to jury and beyond.  Come and see what happens! Oct 3: Vice Presidential Debate – Boardrooms A, B, C – 6pm Nov 4-5: Trial – Boardrooms A, B, C – Friday evening / Saturday (Jury decision ~3pm on Sat) Nov 7: Presidential Debate & Election – Boardrooms A, B, C – 6pm

  • Saint Leo Conferences:

Hoping to spark learning innovation across multiple contexts, the team is looking to host 1-3 conferences at Saint Leo this academic school year.  A few ideas are actively being vetted including a Strategic Doing conference aligned with Spark Growth, a Learning Innovation conference a la TED talks, and an experience for homeschool parents to receive support and (ideally) think of Saint Leo as a destination university for their homeschooler.  We will need steering committee support, speaker ideas, and a number of other things as we start the planning process.

  • Content Initiative:

OER.jpgThe price of course materials is just one of many factors pushing college out of reach for many students today.  And in this time when content is so readily available and often found to be “fresher” when pulled from updated, digital contexts vs static, traditional sources, it is incumbent on any University to ensure that the content chosen to support every course is high quality and as affordable as possible.  Saint Leo is spearheading a multi-year project, in conjunction with our Outcomes work, attempting to find the lowest cost, highest quality course resources for every course, regardless of modality.  Learning Innovation is looking for professors to become content trailblazers who will create the models which will push the envelope in terms of course materials costs, delivery, and platforms, while maintaining the highest quality.  Please contact Steve Rheinschmidt ( for more information.

  • Lions SHARE:

Lions-Share--Connecting-Experiences-logoIn 2016, Saint Leo is launching a new kind of learning ecosystem.  Far more than “just” an LMS, we used our necessity to change learning platforms as an opportunity to bring multiple systems and capabilities to fruition.  The result is a system that not only manages content delivery, grading, and assessment, but also provides opportunities for social learning, simulation, gameful design, adaptivity, new kinds of productivity tools, and much more.  If you are interested in researching eLearning experiences or would like to propose learning innovation specific to this platform, please reach out to Greg Kunzweiler (email / phone above).  If you are interested in leveraging these tools to transform the learning in your own courses, please take advantage of our stellar development and enrichment opportunities found at

  • Smart Sparrow:

Saint Leo is embarking on a journey toward a more personalized learning experience for every student.  Personalization can take many forms, but one very powerful form is adaptive learning.  Saint Leo has partnered with Smart Sparrow, an adaptive learning platform, to help subject matter experts and learning designers alike.  We are looking for professors who would like to develop adaptive eLearning assets, courses, and experiences for students.  If you are a faculty member at Saint Leo University, we hope you will take advantage of the many initiatives and projects being sponsored by the Learning Innovation team.  Saint Leo has a long history of trying to push the envelope with regard to teaching and learning.  Whether doing so for your own development, for university service or leadership, for research purposes, or simply because you want to enhance the student experience, we hope you will join our Learning Innovation Incubator. Good luck and good learning. Dr. Jeff D. Borden Chief Innovation Officer

About Jeff Borden

My title at work is ‘Chief Innovation Officer.’ So I'm trying to transform teaching and learning at scale. How do I do that? Through my "life" jobs. Primarily, I'm a dad and husband. But I'm also a professor, writer, professional speaker, comedian, researcher, lifelong learner, musician, dog-owner, and even a ranked disc golfer... I've spoken to, trained, or consulted with hundreds of thousands of educators at all levels, in numerous countries, K-20, about how to teach and learn effectively in the 21st Century.

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