Strategic Learning Innovation


It is not lost on me that the week I revealed my Strategic Learning Innovation agenda was the week of April Fool’s.  A few of my colleagues at Saint Leo joked about the initiatives being so unique, they hoped it wasn’t just a prank.  I assured them…this is VERY real.

Some thought it was overly ambitious.  After all, the creation (curation is likely a better term) of a new learning technology ecosystem that is designed to help with enrollment, retention, teaching quality, learning capability, study habits, authentic assessment, and more is big enough.  It’s the kind of thing I’ve seen some careers focus entirely on (never to get it right, by the way…).  And we’re doing that.  Receiver2We’re throwing out some old ways of doing, remixing some new ways of thinking, and exploring the best ways technology can empower deep learning – then we’ve designed a plug-n-play framework under which these tools will be housed.  Like a smart house or a modern home theater system, using what we know today to build this framework should give us optimal experiences up front and rich data behind the scenes.  We’ll get there quickly and adeptly using a series of “first” filters: integration first, students first, partnerships first, outcomes first, and tomorrow first.

But as big, ambitious…even audacious, as that may seem to some, we’re not done there.  The ecosystem will be more than useful, like the lights in a room.  The framework will allow practitioners to get the best information in the right time for the right context, like a credit monitoring system reporting fraud or a health meter identifying a heart palpitation.  But at the end of the day, the tools will simply be used by the people…the real innovation at Saint Leo.

SocialInnovationIt’s the people who will use the tools to start dealing with social learning and social networking – a problem I have yet to see any University actually make work for them across the entire organization.  We’re looking to approach it through video portfolio and crowdsourced tutoring.  It’s the people who will bring together several event-based scenarios and simulations to reach outcomes across discipline, level, and other gaps.  It’s faculty who will pilot and hopefully use an in-class whiteboard system that has far less to do with the whiteboard and far more to do with the real-time engagement data the system provides.  It’s the people (including students) who will ‘stand up and be counted’ at a lighthouse event next year, showcasing the learning innovations that surround Saint Leo and Higher Education.  It’s the people who will examine specific neuroscience concepts that are suggested to improve learning from colored lights to spaced repetition to community sponsorship and beyond.

Some of these learning innovations will likely give Saint Leo students a leg up in learning, job hunting, collaborating, etc.  But others will be broader, impacting all of Higher Education potentially.  

When we’re done…ok, we’ll never be done, but you know what I mean…we should actually see the measurement of things that are important, not just what is easy.  Students should see the benefits of brain science play out meaningfully in the classroom – either on-ground or online.  Employers should find students who are more prepared for the ‘real world’ than ever before.  And most exciting to me – students should have a better sense of HOW they learn, something I feel education has failed to provide for most people in the world.

Saint Leo University is obviously committed to the notion of Learning Innovation.  Not only is my position fairly unique in Higher Ed, but I can point to dozens of intentional actions vs “creative accidents” designed to drive quality, retention, enrollments, and more.  While we are attempting to architect “serendipitous collisions” for students, faculty, and staff, we are not relying on them to promote something we believe to be a cornerstone of 21st Century learning.   InnovateWe are putting money, time, and other meaningful resources into the process.  We are trying to teach innovation (and all of the off-chutes like entrepreneurialism, creativity, etc.) and we are trying to embrace strategic innovation so as to improve process, policy, outcomes, etc.  

I hope to gather some of my colleagues for some guest blogging soon.  But I wanted to let you know that we’re off and running.  I hope you’ll join us for the ride.

Good luck and good learning my friends.

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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