SNHU – Innovation Lab (archived)

Wrapping SNHU —- July 2012

Happy for my ex-colleagues and a teeny bit for myself that our work on the Pathways project was validated with the award of a $1,000,000 Next Gen grant to build out and develop the concept and the platform. Paul LeBlanc has moved on to scale to an even stronger team; no blokes and no Brits which will obviously hold them back a tad … but that aside, I wish them every success.

The academic concept of a “blown apart” curriculum with critical competencies emphasized and the, intrinsically motivating, opportunity to demonstrate them in subject areas that personally interest a student is one that I am proud of. Without Paul’s insulation / amnesty from governance buying me the opportunity to think outside the box, it would not have been possible to flesh this out or see it to its end point. Going forward I remain interested in seeing whether this model, with a competency-based knowledge map, can work in higher level courses and programs.

Thanks to SNHU I will always have a part of me locked in Innovation mode. I’m closing this thread and moving on to the next one.

Cheers SNHU – PLB – Alex and all the great faculty and staff with whom we achieved so much.



InnoLab 180

So today was my last day at the Innovation Lab. Despite extremely interesting and challenging work for which I will always be indebted to Paul Leblanc, Yvonne Simon and my colleagues at SNHU, I am taking up a new position at Northeastern University as their Executive Director for Curriculum Development and Deployment.
I hope to hear of SNHU’s success in getting the Next Gen grant, anticipate the I-Lab growing and meeting many new challenges. I will continue to be a fan and supporter of their work and Paul LB’s leadership.
Closing this page/thread.


InnoLab 160

“We Khan do it !!”
Worked today on a flow chart showing how students might work through the materials – which element is dependent on earlier items / can be taken in isolation. As with Khan – success in higher level deliverables (where competencies are clearly shown) will negate the need to go back and attempt earlier / simpler deliverables. The below is a representation of our Composition and Media domain with the numbers corresponding to Domain (1 = Comp + Med), Skill (one of six identified through our work with Lumina, IFTF, etc) and Level (ours is a three-level system that the students move through)

InnoLab 158

As we move from planning to implementation, more concrete steps need to be taken.
Timeline and planning need to be more central after this period of 150+ days.
We are still focused on the Next Gen grant second round – due date April 12th – which requires (still) quite a lot of visioning – but alongside that, we are moving towards job descriptions (social media hiring campaign to start soon!) – and content development for our first modules/components.

As an outcome of the Rhode Island trip (last week) we are planning for a working session with the BIF folks (scroll down if you missed who they are).
That should be valuable as it will allow us to put the student / potential student at the heart of the design process.
More to follow…


InnoLab 151

Jeff Selingo of the Chronicle validates our reason for existence
For Have-Nots, the Rockier Road to a College Degree Increases the Appeal of Alternatives


InnoLab 150 !

Biggest gap yet between posts and we hit a milestone – day 150 – nice round number / lots happening. Diving in, since last time (29 days ago):
1) Preetha Ran
came back to visit us / meet more SNHU community members – this time, the University College Academic Deans and more of the College of Online and Continuing Ed. team. I had the pleasant task of introducing her and borrowed (under a Creative Commons license 😉 the tribute to OpenStudy and those like “her” from Time magazine: “There’s an esprit de corps among this generation of educational entrepreneurs, their companies, nimble, flexible and fast-moving, can respond to the genuine needs of students and teachers in ways that the big educational software, hardware and publishing companies haven’t”
The session was great, we all became even bigger fans of OpenStudy and are hoping to work with them on next steps and development of our mutual projects.
2) InnoLab attended the ETS Higher Education Advisory Council meeting in (disappointingly cold and windy) San Diego. Great discussions, good people – Ross and Patrick of the non-cognitive team always impress me. Maybe that’s their non-cognitive skill in action and they’re really hopeless –  but I doubt it !!
David Payne (of ETS) summed up the main aspects of our discussions:

  • There is a growing demand for access (explosive growth) ad increased diversity
  • Accountability is on the rise – esp. for non-traditional delivery formats – many are questioning the value of Higher Education and looking for alternatives
  • Greater feedback is being sought from employers than in the past – what they need / and what’s lacking in our current grads / programs
  • New technologies are leading to distributed collaboratives – rise of collaboratories and communiversities
  • Disruptive innovation is with us – StraighterLine / MITx (“and us at SNHU” – we shouted. He ignored us)

3) We received the great news that we had made it through the Next Generation challenge round One. How we celebrated! – Then we read the specs for round two and we all went a bit quiet… A lot more depth and support needed. Due date April 12th (tick tock…).   Focus on Young Adults stressed

4) Road trip to Rhode Island – attended a College Unbound session (Dennis Littky  is one of the most engaging characters you could ever meet, his students are inspiring and his team are so committed. What a model. Scalability is his challenge – we are hoping to connect and help with that. His programs need a massively wide audience – truly transformational.
4b) We also visited the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) and their, also, fearless leader / Chief Catalyst Saul Kaplan. A quick meeting turned into 3+ hours and we left extremely excited about working with them to help us define our (InnoLab / Pathways project) user experience. They are superbly creative design thinkers who were impressively quick to grasp what we’ve been trying to build here.

Day 150 was a little surreal – future Innovators note – day 150 is apparently a little bizarre (for reasons I will leave you to discover yourselves)> Don’t say I didn’t warn you !!

Promise the next update will be in days, not weeks


InnoLab 121

Great catch up with SNHUPrez yesterday despite some fun weather!
This week we pulled together a lot of the rationale behind the curriculum mapping piece and worked to getting standard, working, definitions of terminology and concept. There is a solid alignment behind the reports we feel are key to what we’re doing. Lumina’s Degree profile work is excellent, The Institute of the Future’s Future Work Skills 2020 paper, LEAP’s Essential Learning Outcomes and a paper from ACTS (Association of Teaching 21st Century Skills) provide a great background to what we’re doing.

At the weekend 50% of the I-lab team are headed for the west coast  – the 2012 ETS Higher Education Advisory Council
Looking forward to catching up with Ross, Kate (the ETS folks) and what looks like a dynamic set of participants.


InnoLab 113

   The O*Net online site has a massive range of job descriptions broken down into by Knowledge, Skills,  Abilities, Personality, Technology and Education. I’m looking at about 50 job descriptions to see if they can be mapped to our K-map (Knowledge map) model that maps Skills to Domain areas (Knowledge areas) with the intersections delivering Competencies.
If we can map O*Net job specs. to our model, and connect that with student competencies (PLA / PLAR etc) on enrollment, then we have our bookends illustrating both their “Gaps” and what they need to succeed for their chosen career.

Kudos to Ross and the guys at ETS who introduced us to O*Net on our visit there last month – it looks like a great resource.


InnoLab 111

So we broke the 100 mark and have kept right on to almost 4 months of work here in the I-Lab.
Now that the grant proposal has been sent off we are getting a chance to reflect on some of the bigger, or more philosophical questions about the model and the overall package. Y. sent round a query / checklist yesterday with some fundamental questions:

(What is / what are):

  • Target number of students,
  • # of locations (and which ones we are currently targeted),
  • Level of curriculum development (e.g., 2 domain areas; 1 assignment for all three levels for each 6 skill areas = ~36 assignments with grading rubrics, learning to learn, state of platform (minimal requirements),
  • # of laptops needed, (note – we are considering giving students laptops to ensure access)
  • IT considerations for support, integration, maintenance, marketing pieces, etc.

Then given this “scope,”:

  • What support do we need (staff, consultants, extra hands, graders? Etc.)
  • When?
  • What are the risks if we do it? what are the risks if we don’t?
  • What are options for “re-scoping” if the this plan is too ambitious?
  • What are the key deliverables to hit to ensure successful delivery?

It was interesting to gauge degree of certainty and differing views as to where we are at / where we should be heading.
It struck me that these are questions that we (a) should have answered already and (b) cannot yet answer – depending on how you look at them.
I guess that’s all part of the creative / innovative process – some of it feels vague, some of it feels (almost) restrictive…


InnoLab 099

(Martha’s report on our visit to the Urban League in Boston)

“We had an excellent trip down to the Urban League.
Meet with Lauren Hunter, head of Work Force Development and Darnell Williams (half of meeting).
Shared the Gates video and power point and they were very pleased with the concept and their positioning.

Overall we think they will be a terrific partner because they offer numerous programs for free to the population they serve, including but not limited to:

Online Learning Readiness
Customer Service and Sales Training
Fund Accountant Preparatory

Lauren runs the programs and training with a deep sense of discipline and techniques which teach time management.

Three biggest challenges she sees are: the challenge of technology skills, motivation, and the ability to clearly outline exactly what the program will do for the end user.  Other issues include: lack of child care and a quiet place to study.

She believes there may be potential candidates for our pilot coming out of the current programs the league offers. For example, the Fund Account Preparatory program places people at State Street Bank but they can’t move up the career ladder there without further education.

Lauren is going to talk about our program and the need for participation in our pilot next Tues. I will give her a follow up call on Wed. or Thurs. There is also going to be a very large job fair in Boston on March 22 which we have been invited to attend.”

It was a GREAT visit – a very impressive operation and finally I can stop getting them mixed up with the Justice League – which is a very different operation:


InnoLab 090

Good discussion today – one point that I felt I wanted to make (and felt better for) is/was.
This model can not be termed “High Touch” as that will suggest to many, multiple helping, supportive, (borderline remedial), contacts and outreach.
If we utilize the communities and the technology that is out there as we plan, I believe that we can describe “Access” as:

  • Highly responsive
  • Tailored (by way of size, challenge and context) and
  • Focused on intrinsic motivation

This model will certainly take a specific kind of student – one who is comfortable with operating at what Gee calls the “outer edge of his/her regime of competence” – so that at many points the experience is felt as challenging but not “undoable”.
One more Gee quote (his work applies game principles to education) – “When the character you are playing dies in video game, you can get sad and upset, but you also usually get “pissed” that you have failed. And then you start again, motivated to do better”. Our program will need that drive and resolution. Ross at ETS (see prior post) – discussed how behaviors were easier to change than attitude. I believe that the model we are developing will help shape behavior, but that it cannot scale if we have to address attitude.  This post is probably my most isolationist and expresses my own views – rather than those of the iLab…    Well – it’s MY blog and no-one’s reading this part anyway 😉


InnoLab 089

Busy end to last week – we traveled to Princeton to meet with ETS to discuss assessment and our (draft) model for SNHU Access (our version of affordable, accessible, online education).
We got great feedback – very smart people down there – Ross Markle’s work on non-cognitive learning’s work is/was very impressive.
My notes included (these were my notes so I could explain to our hosts):

  • Break curriculum into employer/institution defined assets: – skills –> mapped to key semiotic domains as defined by our academic body
  • Semiotic domains consist of core courses grouped by function with “Communication Skills” being central
  • (we are) Preparing concentrations around a central core allowing for long-term development of discipline-specific branches (Management, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Retail)

In revisiting the k-Map (our Skills vs. Domains —- leading to —–> competencies system), we have boiled down to a slimmer model with SIX key skills mapped against 4 key domains. This gives us 24 competencies at the core level with another 6 to come through concentrations. I worry that we may have simplified the interface at initial point of contact but may have obligated such depth and complexity beneath the surface that it may be daunting…  We’ll see in the development phase.
The initial interface (pre-being-pretty-fied by our graphics guy)  looks like this:

The (selection of the) skills comes from ETS, LEAP, 21st Century skills and SNHU-supplied syllabi etc.

Our grant deadline looms (Feb 9th) so we’re nearing “deadline panic” (Cathy LF is keeping us sane and just on this side of the panic)


InnoLab 085

Projected growth map for the first five years of SNHU Access (if we continue to call it that). We’re all still working hard on the nextgen grant proposal. David Westerdale did some great graphic work yesterday @ the Millyard


InnoLab 077

Last week and the start of this one saw us trying to develop the documentation for the Next Gen grant application.
What seems at first glance to be a very simple process becomes more complicated as you work on it. We have to submit:
a) A 2 minute video
b) “Form” questions – in a formal application (web-based)
c) A 12-slide powerpoint with
d) A narrative track

All elements are quite concise but working out what works better as a visual, what should be in bullets, what might be best placed in the narrative…  Do we repeat for emphasis or is that merely being redundant?
We had some very helpful feedback from some of our colleagues and (potential) partners.
Feb 9th deadline so we are on track. Hats off to my colleague Kristen F. who has acted as chief organizers and whip-cracker and kept us all on the same page regarding change control and (in particular) slide evolution.


InnoLab 066

Well, that was Xmas and the New Year holidays….
Innovation team needed some down time and most of us took re-charging time. It IS a different working mode, removing the operational and not (self-)validating your existence 27 times a day by putting out fires – academic, faculty, student, governance, ID-team – all the elements we have been living in our recent past(s) at SNHU-COCE.
We are still discussing where and when we will end up in permanent residence – our offices in SNHU’s Robert Frost building are fine – good access to University facilities but not (I think) where the President sees us longer-term. (Having worked in one) I think there is certainly a benefit – a mindset / culture – that comes with a dot-com-esque environment. Downtown Manchester would put us 5 minutes from either campus – which would be cool. It already seems that we have been away from COCE (in the millyard) for a long time – things keep moving at SNHU.

Most of Week 1 back at SNHU – or Days 061-066 if you prefer has been reviewing what we have and contemplating what we need for the NextGen stage II grant proposal – hoping to gain support for our model – we need a 2 minute video and a 12 slide powerpoint – easy one would think! We have next week to polish to get to a solid draft. I am most focused on the curriculum and the K-map (K being knowledge) – attempting to “blow up” the curriculum and (laser-)focus in on competencies and knowledge areas that will significantly empower and help our target communities.

The only serious distraction this week was Wednesday evening when Newcastle United *thrashed* Manchester United 3-0 – I spent the last 25 minutes standing in front of my sofa – frequently jumping up and down – to the extent that my knee was painful through the rest of the week and my voice a little hoarse.

We also spent a lot of time coming up with variants of a Van Gogh joke prompted by my Xmas facial hair – I will post these gems in my social area soon. Here’s the original:
Van Gogh goes into a bar, the bartender says – “Hi Vincent, would you like a beer?”, to which Van Gogh replies, “No thanks I’ve got one ear” (one here)

I’ll be appearing in Manchester all week 🙂


InnoLab 049

Just blogged on a theme I am worried about – whether Open courses may favor those who are equipped to succeed anyway, missing the under-served who really need the help. In my mind a lot of the concern is the innate confidence that those-who-are-generally-used-to-succeeding bring to the table versus those who are less confident; the product of a number of life situations chipping away at their esteem.
It will not be good enough to say “tough,” – the challenge is that we will need to build in huge encouragement and support in a model where the aspirational price-point is in direct conflict. My hope is that with clarity, great materials, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, we can support in a scalable manner. I just ordered Joshua Foer’s – Moonwalking with Einstein in the hope that we may be able to share some strategies that make people (who ARE smart) *FEEL* smart. Credit again to Mike Caulfield – whose post on Openness as a Privilege Multiplier prompted my first post today (on my main blog page). He also referenced Foer’s work so I’m optimistic – given that Mike is also a huge Doctor Who fan (i.e. he has GREAT taste and judgement) that it will be worth the read.

Mike Caulfield blogs at


InnoLab 043

Main work started on curriculum mapping – looking to translate “traditional” syllabi to a matrix with Discipline Knowledge / Skills. (In-house we now call this the K-map – perhaps because we are sad to have basically run out of K-cup coffee). Our initial pair of courses are ENG 120 – College Composition and COM 126 – Intro. to Communication. We have also identified these as our two nominations for inclusion in the OERu pilot (for more on OERu see my main page – this blog).

Ironically (not sure if that’s the appropriate word) when working on the above, I decided to go to the bookstore on campus to try and get copies of the set texts for the ENG course. One used and one new – total cost $200 give or take. And there you have a large part of the problem we are fixing…

PM – meeting with Seth and the video / grant / Social media folks. We are going after grant funding – this particular one needs a 2-minute video and a 12-slide PPT. In describing what we were doing, we came up with the following language / terms:
– we are pursuing “post-traditional students” – Paul
– we are “Building a community, not a program” – that was me 🙂
– we will deliver “Socially Responsible Education” (meaning real-world / reasonable investment – great R.O.I.) – team phrase
– we will declare “Education as Open for business” and
– our courses will feature extrinsic and intrinsic motivation – they will be addictive!!

We’re tabulating these just to see who rips off whose phraseology !!

“I wish I’d said that   (by Oscar Wilde, to a witty remark by James McNeill Whistler), to which Whistler riposted:
“You will, Oscar, you will!”


InnoLab 042

“The week of digging in”
I have pulled us back to low-cost / simplicity as the default whenever possible. With Marketing and Tech Support, this has been a great dialogue. I think the best way of conveying this is the mantra (now adopted) of “What if we were to launch tomorrow?” – I think that the basic model – Datatel – Blackboard – OER/OCW (web based) is do-able in a very basic format quite quickly, but I accept the concerns of my colleagues that we don’t want to build something is we can’t then layer on / extend it as our students illustrate what they need. The metaphor of the college campus, built without paths, later added once the students had tramped down the places where they *were* going to walk – whatever had been planned by the architects – is helpful for our thinking.

I contemplated a “funny things that we say” section to this blog but thought I wouldn’t make it a regular feature… Having said that – two gems of today were:
“I’ve been in hari-kari situations before” (I think “hairy” was the meaning)   and
“Tough to get out of a rat-hole once you’re down it” (I’ve heard rabbit hole before…)


InnoLab 039

Discussions continued this week as to refining product and defining audience. These seem to be our two biggest challenges.
Themes that are persisting include:
Competencies focus – now divided into Discipline Knowledge areas (I described studying tree types in the UK growing up) and Skills – that were repeated in numerous syllabi and other resources (LEAP / Future skills etc)
Embedded Assessment – building on reading of Daniel Pink’s Drive / autotelic motivation etc.
OER / OCW materials leading to BETTER QUALITY as well as Better pricing
Incentives, encouragements and/or awards tied in with our traditional credits to provide more reasons to stay engaged

Our Target Audience is both complicated (where do we find them? – GENED / VLACS / B2B / P2PU) and simple – “People who want education but can’t afford it”

Reviewing ETS Major Field Tests to see what overlap there is with our course options.

Also on the plus side of things – great indoor soccer game on Tuesday this week – 4-4 tie with Patrick’s – good guys, good post-game – very important to have a few spots in the week when you’re not focused on innovating 🙂


InnoLab 036

The team met with key individuals representing GED completion and our potential target market.
We then reviewed the work that had been done on badges and the matrix / K-Map etc.
Next goal is to “dive deeper”

KF’s report re: Badging – the main takeaways I got were:
– there are three models for badge systems – levels leading to skills / rewards – dossier system for competitions etc / and social – peers – reinforcement of community values
– competencies should be defined as either hard or soft skills
– how many challenges lead to a badge? – one or many?
– stealth badges are fun – SURPRISE – you got a badge!
– are badges to be generated automatically or are we to be low-tech / manually assigned?

And from Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure:
– What’s the evidence behind the badge?
– Who issued it? – Is it endorsed?
– Is there an expiration date on it?
– Can there be a mini portfolio (with links to items)?
– Will they have value outside (or just Inside) a community?

I made the following notes:
The JOB that we need BADGES to do are:
* Encourage persistence —- not replace academic credits
* Allow encouragement that is automatic or very clearly NOT human (as in PhD-holding) human-generated typing / text / feedback — lowering cost
* Demonstrate competencies — link — work — evidence
* Make it fun (or at least compulsive)


InnoLab 032

spent much of the day working on the Matrix and locating stepping stones to extend a visual metaphor – here’s the stone I ended up with:

and almost as impressively – following are the competencies we gravitated towards.

My goal was to build a curriculum model based on a Knowledge Map (now known as the K-Map) that has Discipline Knowledge running horizontally with skills on the verticals.
Idea being that deliverables (embedded assessments) will allow students to personalize by demonstrating knowledge associated with other skills that will be of great value to them in their career. The flaw of most Gen Ed programs is that they encourage a Check Box mentality. We believe that the K-Map system, in encouraging cyclicality, will encourage students to keep demonstrating skills in multiple submissions. Alongside traditional credits we hope to implement other incentives, encouragements or nudges. Badges being forefront if we can work out technical implementation.


InnoLab 031

Now it gets harder to remember what day we’re on chronologically as we move from November (where the days matched the month) to December..  I’ll give it my best shot.
Team meeting today – we’ve moved from the theoretical to the concrete. A tentative list of possible courses that could map to a meaningful degree and then (the bigger part of the work) mapping to a grid of Discipline Knowledge areas (x) and Skills (y). The Skills are intended to be essential life / employer skills that – in demonstrating – allow students to achieve beyond discipline knowledge elements listed in syllabi learning objectives. A very interesting and useful exercise to see how they align. We may end up with different versions of this – I was pushing (strongly) for simplicity and “boiling down”, others were keen to extend to include more granularity – useful both as we will have different audiences once we go more public: target demographic where I think succinctness and clarity is essential, and academic theorists / SMEs where we will need to demonstrate the underlying detail.
A version of this mapping will appear here soon.

*as one cross reference, Kristen provided the reference of Bill Coplin’s 10 Things Employers want you to learn in college
He has

Work Ethic
Physical Performance
Influencing People
Number Crunching
Critical Thinking
Problem Solving

I make us at at least an 80% overlap – we’re better as we have included some more “future-focused” elements. In Colpin’s defense, his book was first published in 2003!


InnoLab 030

Met with the Social Media team from COCE’s marketing arm. While we have to push towards detail, the overview and concept are close. Our Feb 9th NextGen grant application can include a two minute video. Seth (SNHU viral video maestro) asked great questions around what we are doing. We’re excited to see how this comes out. We’ve quickly gone from great brainstorming to what’s becoming an aggressive timeline around product, target demographic and grants.


InnoLab 029

Met with Mary Heath – SNHU’s wonderful Dean of the School of Education who was superbly encouraging and helpful in our follow up analysis of how to reach our target demographic – she is a walking package of expertise and contacts. We’re all in denial that she is planning to retire early next year – we refuse to believe either that she is old enough to retire or that she will actually do it. Having said that she mentioned New Zealand today so she must be seriously starting to think beyond Hooksett.

Thanks Mary


InnoLab 028

First team meet with the SNHU President Paul LB.
Mostly confirmation of where we were headed with, as is typical, a number of laser-focused clarifications. We have had problems focusing in on our target audience – Paul really helped with some guidance as to audiences we can’t pursue for now and how to limit the offering(s) to build in scalability and keep costs VERY low (perhaps free).
Our main take aways are to work on Curriculum and then Competency mapping.
Biggest remaining imponderable may well be How to develop the Learning Community.
Obviously keeping tabs on OERu’s Academic Volunteer Initiative (AVI) and Open Study – “Make the world your study group” which has come a long way since I last looked at it prior to the Utah conference.


InnoLab 025-027

recovering not innovating


InnoLab 024

InnoLab was represented in the Seacoast Rotary 5K run, prior to InnoLab overeating and overdrinking while watching American football and other uncouth sports. Adjusting for the time it took InnoLab to cross the start line, InnoLab broke the top 150 and was only beaten by 8 men in their 50’s, 2 men in their 60’s and 3 people 12 or under (one ten year old who must have cheated) – so that’s not too bad

153    28/172 M4049   22:46  7:20   23:17 Kevin Bell             43 M   809 Keene NH


InnoLab 023

Main element of my day was a SKYPE call to Wayne Mackintosh – director of OERu initiative. Having just visited, I could get my computational skills around the New Zealand time difference to call him at 3:30pm (EST), correlating to 9:30am (the following day) NZ time. Great call – clarifying my role as Project Manager for the 2012 prototype initial OERu offering – Wayne immediately went back and whacked out a bunch of new WikiEducator resource pages – main ones being where I shall endeavor not to let his faith in me flounder!
Initial discussion around which courses we (the consortium) should be developing or finding. Wayne posted these criteria later as:

Qualification criteria

List the minimum criteria to qualify for course candidates to be included in the ranking phased to achieve a rough consensus.

  • Course must be ready for delivery in Fall/Autumn 2012 (Northern Hemisphere) or second semester (Southern Hemisphere).
  • The course nominated must be mapped for credit / recognition at the contributing institution because an OERu course must be accredited at a minimum of one anchor partner.
  • Course selections must facilitate implementations which are technology agnostic with regard to preferred technologies on campus — for example, using WikiEducator’s capabilities for easy integration into local learning management systems.
  • list qualifying criteria here

Considerations for ranking criteria

  • Level of cross-credit potential in the network
  • Achieving an acceptable “range” withing the prototype, for example:
    • a course with potential for large enrollments worldwide and demonstrators which illustrate opportunities for Long Tail Economics whereby the OERu collaboration achieves cost-effective offerings for low enrollment courses.
    • selections which illustrate a range of viable delivery approaches without imposing any pedagogical bias.

Discussion points

List any relevant discussion points here.

  • Bla bla

NOTE – these are Wiki notes so bla bla really is a clever psychological ploy to get people to add supplemental information – smart guy !


InnoLab 022

Met with David Payne of ETS testing – interesting guy.
Trying to move the discussion on re: the question of how (else) to recognize competencies and achievements at all levels but particularly in the zones before specified plateaus are reached at 60 / 120 credits. Reflecting back on Philipp Schmidt’s talk at OpenEd11 “I don’t need a certificate to beat you at chess” – could be badges (gaining traction but likely to be poorly received by employers?), could be some formal mid-level exam or test.
We have been focused on embedded assessment and recognizing the “Chess Skill” level by playing chess, rather than setting up a theoretical paper to be written about playing chess. To his credit David did not seem at all fazed, if anything, actually energized by the challenges we were throwing his way. “Deconstruct assessment to fit into categories / levels / PLA/ self-paced – with motivation and support uppermost in mind” – no problem !!!   To be followed up on…


InnoLab 021

Much of the morning reviewing a new CMS/LMS product – Trunity. They presented well and have certainly moved the product along. Not sure (personally) that it speaks to many of the elements / pillars / filters that we are looking at.
Y boiled these down to

  • Open Pedagogy (that I am fleshing out tonight / tomorrow)
  • Networks and Community
  • Assessment
  • Business Model

We are meeting the president on Monday (28th) – also Inno Lab day 028. With Thanksgiving and the weekend, that only really gives us a couple of days to work on “the pitch” Not a bad thing though to have some deadlines. I want to get back to OERu Project Management review and Tim Brown’s Change By Design which looks great but has proven beyond my time management skills thus far…


InnoLab 018

Our “pillars” or “filters” (I think they work better as filters but I seem to be getting overruled!), by which we analyze our conceptual models are developing to:

  1. The Pedagogy (I am working on fleshing out a theory paper on Open Pedagogy – see an earlier blog post for my first sketch) – I’d love to engage Jim Groom to flesh this out – I just heard that he’s actually a Grad school buddy of one of my best buddies on campus at SNHU – so that may help… I digress…
  2. Community
  3. Assessment
  4. OCW/OER
  5. Pacing / term structure
  6. Place in the world (skill set / context)

Much of today we hosted e-Follett folks who talked about their models for materials procurement going forward. My conclusion – better but not a Bag of Gold (again see main blog for explanation)


InnoLab 017

We are still analyzing hard our target audience and how to engage them. I think that we are getting close to describing a model that *we* all think has great potential but we are wary of building something that looks great that no one wants (or knows they want). There seems to be a developing continuum that starts with what we are calling “traditional online” on one end – that really is a mirror of traditional day campus (face to face / modular / timed / for-credit) classes – through WGU-type models to the Wilder West of P2PU (self-paced, not for credit, somewhat anarchic)…  We have a least a couple of models that come between those two – a lot depends on where we end up vis-a-vis Social Mission vs. Revenue generation (as fundamental driver).


InnoLab 016

Spoke today with Gail Arena of the New York Time Knowledge Network – they have produced and support numerous not-for credit / continuing education courses and (through affiliates) some for credit courses – affiliates USC, Ball State University, University of Toronto etc.
We could:
a) use their courses as text books for our courses – possibly in “traditional online” – not so much as we look to OER
b) become an affiliate and get students referred to us by them (possible to help market our new models)
c) keep in touch and see what develops

I’m somewhere between (b) and (c) right now.
Gail was super nice though, calling me despite being out with personal issues – very professional (as you’d expect from NY Times)


InnoLab 015

Back to Manchester – Martha and Yvonne meeting:
Immediate deliverables (this week)

  •  OER / OERu / The Models – Kevin
  • Tech tools for connectivity and possibilities – Kristen
  • Grants and key delineators – Yvonne

We discussed filters with which we can review potential models.
They include:
Course structure, Incentives / awards, student support, Program Design, Multi-modal (or not), Assessment, Skills –> Real World, Instruction, Building networks.

We see a continuum:

“Traditional  —- OERu / WGU —— Alternative credit model —– P2PU
online”                 (Western Governors)         (Truly Open!?)       (no credits/badges?)

We need to place our models on this line and do our cost-benefit analysis on each.


InnoLab 014

OK – lost two days there – traveling back from NZ. Luggage (of course) had an extended stay in L.A. – the kids were happy to see me, sad that their presents were in my luggage!
Monday I worked from home – my commute would have started at midnight New Zealand time so I thought it best not to end up in a ditch / off a cliff on my first day back!

My BIG questions coming back were:
1) What are next steps with OERu?
2) What other models should the Innovation Lab pursue?
3) How many models and in what order should we chase?

I’m really ready to re-engage and start focusing in on the WORK!


InnoLab 011

SNHU sailed NEASC accreditation (knew they would)
Most of the traffic – admittedly from the other side of the world centered on upcoming meetings and commitments.
So far I have:

  • 11/15 – Kris Clerkin (from Link’d In) – sounds impressive

    VP, General Manager, Legal Education at Wolters Kluwer Law & Business
    Partner, Investment Committee Member at Social Venture Partners Boston
    Board Member, Global Advisory Board at Eduventures
    President at Houghton Mifflin College Division
    VP, Director of Sales and Marketing at Houghton Mifflin College Division
  • 11/21 Trunity (vendor) meeting – “Easily create social-publishing empowered websites for your business or organizatio”
  • 11/22 David Payne – ETS “At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research.”



Notes from inaugural OERu Foundation members’ meeting to follow



In preparation for the OERu first day – I was reveiwing their work and documentation – firstly the OERu Mission statement:

The OER university initiative proposes the establishment of an innovation partnership among like-minded institutions in the formal education sector to extend their community service and outreach missions in supporting improved access to higher education especially for those learners who lack the means or access to follow traditional learning paths. Through the community service mission of participating institutions, the initiative will open pathways for OER learners to earn formal academic credit and pay reduced fees for assessment and credentialisation.

They outline the 5 key factors making the time RIGHT for disruption:

1.    Unsatisfied global demand for post-secondary education. The predicted global demand for higher education exceeds the capacity of the existing system to deliver; it is not economically viable to continue to build new universities.
2.    Growing inventory of open access learning materials on the Internet. There are thousands of courses, research journals and OER available under open access licensing provisions, which could be integrated into selected courses for academic credit.
3.    The burgeoning phenomenon of institutions providing access to free-tuition learning. A growing number of non-profit institutions and post-secondary providers are offering free-tuition courses utilising OER. However, robust and credible solutions for providing assessment and credentialisation services are lacking.
4.    The potential for shifts in the organisational cost-structures for the design, development and provision of asynchronous learning. The marginal cost of replicating digital learning materials is near zero.
5.    The potential for reconfiguring existing protocols for assessment and accreditation of OER learning. Existing approaches and methodologies for PLA(R) combined with institutional practices for credit transfer and course articulation can be reconfigured for achieving the aims of formal credentialisation of open learning on the web.

Downes (2011) characterizes this as “a change of outlook from one where education is an essential service provided to all persons, to one where the role of the public provider is overwhelmingly one of support and recognition for an individual’s own educational attainment. It represents an end to a centrally-defined determination of how an education can be obtained, to one that offers choices, resources and assessment.”

The report was produced under CC attribute license by: Athabasca University, Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation Otago Polytechnic University of Southern Queensland, 28 March 2011.

Tomorrow will be a blast – can’t wait to work with these people.


bit of a rest day – adjusting to the 17 hour time difference – I had been basically without sleep for 48 hours –
never a problem back in college life, but I guess I am getting old! – Took the Taieri Gorge railway trip into the
mountains through spectacular scenery and beautiful weather. So far I have concluded that this part of New
Zealand is quite close to what Scotland would be with better weather  – my mum (history buff and proud Scot)
informed me that Dunedin is the old Gaelic name for Edinburgh and that there was always an affiliation
between the kiwis and the jocks!

Robert Burns statue in the center of the city would seem to suggest that, and the people have certainly proven
as friendly as the Scots (I’m not including bevvied, after-hours Glaswegians!)

I’ll reflect more on the New Zealand experience – where distinct from the Innovation Lab work – in the main
blog section.

btw – Ellen Murphy (Director of Online Curriculum @ SUNY Empire State College) – the other US founding member of OERu buzzed me to suggest meeting when she arrives. Be great to meet her.


InnoLab_006 (Note – InnoLab_005 DID NOT EXIST as I crossed the dateline!)
Posted from Auckland domestic airport – OK – the bar. I have no idea what timezone I was in and it seemed important to sample the local brew Mac’s Gold Malt Lager – cold and wet – perfect.

On the flight(s) so far I was reviewing my notes from OpenEd 2011 and Daniel Pink’s Drive – my own first full iPhone e-version read (an OK experience). We have talked this week – at The Lab – about making coursework flow – or having an hour’s work feel like 5 minutes as it’s so engaging.
Pink references  Csikszentmihalyi who describes rewarding work as “Autotelic experiences – the goal is self-fulfilling; the activity is its own reward”
I think there is something very valuable in this and want to explore the notion of removing fake assessments / artificial hoops to jump through and instead providing ONLY autotelic experiences, with students delivering work that demonstrate the outcomes in a way that they can indulge their passions – artistic, multimedia, however…  DEATH TO BUSY WORK!!   This likely obligates Open Portfolios / PLEs and astute reviewing by qualified graders.



(a.k.a Friday Nov 4th)
Working remotely today – also getting ready to head off to New Zealand – the OERu Open Planning Meeting in Dunedin NZ
Posted our opening SNHU gambit to the OERu WikiEducator

My flight leaves Boston at 6pm, on to Vegas (baby) where I take the 11:25 pm flight and then bizarrely Saturday disappears and I arrive Sunday morning. I am extremely disconcerted by the fact that my football team (a.k.a. the greatest sporting franchise ever to win next-to-nothing for over 80 years) Newcastle United *play* in England on Saturday and yet for me somehow that game just doesn’t happen!
Wayne Mackintosh – OERu Director informed me that: on coming back, the consolation is that “you will be much younger when you return to the US.” – OK, now I’m really confused.

Other main achievement today – adding links to this blog – keeping all InnoLab relevant stuff in one place !
If anyone ever reads this – do suggest other resources.



KB working through OER / OpenEd2011 broad strokes.
The first sketches of how models can work / how we can build on the partnership. These will be attached, or linked to when I get my scribbles down.
Discussion around what we will call ourselves. Looks like:

(email from Yvonne)  Hi there,
I worked these through with Paul.  Can ya’ll give the thumbs up to the titles below.  If you have a tweak, please let me know.    
Thanks,  Yvonne

Yvonne – Innovation Team:  Senior Vice President
Kevin – Innovation Team: Leader of Learning and Development
Martha – Innovation Team:  Leader of Marketing and Communications
Kristen – Innovation Team:  Leader of Academic Technology

My response – “Works for me – I like being a LaD”

(Not-out-loud thoughts) – I hope academia can embrace “Leaders” as a concept – in the last year at SNHU I have gone from C.A.O to AVP to Leader. My resume’s starting to look like a NASCAR Chevrolet.
Really hope we get to make it to InnoLab_999 at least before I change again.
If we hire people to work with us I hope we can call them “Followers”

PS also got this news from President Paul (LeBlanc) of our being featured in a National (very cool magazine) news story early next year – the reporter is coming next week which I am disappointed about given that I’m out – Not bad though – DAY_002 – National news !!! – We should be legend by the end of the month at this rate!



Today’s viewing Ken Robertson at TED 2008

Questions (from Yvonne) – “How does this relate to the Innovator’s Dilemma (CCh)? / What do you agree with? / What do you disagree with?
Great quote – “There are two types of people in this world; those who divide the world into two types of people and those who don’t”

Strongest correlation (InnoLab decision) – seemed to be – Life is not linear, it is organic.

Learning is better when people are not checking off boxes but are finding a passion.
Action points: Ask Students What they want to learn / Ask Companies what they need from employees / How do you make your own job?

ALSO essential viewing:RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us
Must check the time on my single-function device now – “No, no, it tells the date also.…” Sir Ken

Personal note – the Yeats’ poem quoted by Robertson at the end of his talk was one I used on my first serious girlfriend in the UK – valentine’s day 1987? 1988 I think – I didn’t disclose that to the team – we’re tight, but it’s early days yet 🙂
We also reviewed “Better than Free” – as referenced to us by our friend Eric Frank of Flatworld Knowledge
Eight Generatives Better than Free:

  1. Immediacy
  2. Personalization
  3. Interpretation
  4. Authenticity
  5. Accessibility
  6. Embodiment
  7. Patronage
  8. Findability

(I’ll add my thoughts later on how these could map to what we might develop)



Kick off meeting in our new suite – with some degree of irony – the brand shiny new Innovation Lab is housed in the traditional Robert Frost space – down the corridor from the School of Arts and Sciences HQ and next door to our good friends in Justice Studies (academic hint – always be nice to people who have law enforcers in their adjunct pool).

THE TEAM consists of Yvonne Simon, Martha-Rush-Mueller, Kristen Freilich and myself Kevin Bell. What our titles are to be was a question that came up around day 002 or 003 and in the interests of chronology I will maintain the suspense for a little while longer. Again I find myself token male but we almost had our first team cry when we discussed our social mission side so I must have enough femininity to relate.

Day 001 key issues – review Summary of The Dilemmas of Innovation (Clayton Christensen – hereafter CCh. (as CC is already snagged for Creative Commons))
The Nature of Disruption – and When do we get to market?
Early decisions needed on:

  • Mission
  • Framework
  • Landscape
  • (Common) Vocabulary

Key questions:

  1. What technologies are good?
  2. Who is our target market?
  3. What paradigm shifts must we navigate?
  4. What do we want to be known for?


Day one was determined to be 11/1/11 (or 1/11/11 if you’re English) – I’ve decided to take notes on how this all proceeds as I believe that this is a unique opportunity to track the process of innovation in an academic environment. Hopefully we will record challenges, successes and failures. The culmination of which might be something very special. All posts will be coded as InnoLab with the day number 001 – 999.

That gives us almost three years before our Y2K bug moment !

And we’re off !


One thought on “SNHU – Innovation Lab (archived)

  1. Pingback: Innovation Lab Press Release « Kerb Musings in Academia and Teamsports

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