Penn State says ‘no’ to edtech disconnect–so can you!

By Meris Stansbury
eCampus News

In order to better harness the technological innovations ripe for higher ed’s use toward its own reinvention,Penn State’s EdTech Network is leveraging the University’s size and broad research strengths to be a driver for job creation, economic development and student career success—and they’re asking other colleges, universities, faculty and staff, students, and companies to join.

Key Points:
  • Started in the fall of 2015, the EdTech Network promotes active collaboration among companies, students, faculty, staff, and alumni to foster transformational education technology.
  • It’s part of Penn State President Eric Barron’s $30 million Invent Penn State initiative, which aims to drive job creation, economic development, and student career success by connecting researchers and innovators with the people who can help bring their discoveries to the marketplace.
  • There are no application fees or obligations to become a member of the EdTech Network.
Rising Importance

According to Glenn Braddock, executive director of the Student Success Center at Excelsior College, and Dave Jarrat, VP at InsideTrack, there is a major disconnect between the edtech used by institutions and their own innovative goals.

“…a false narrative exists that says technology + innovation is a purchased good that comes from outside the campus walls, but higher education is itself responsible for incredible advances in consumer technology, life sciences and countless other inventions that would have been impossibilities without faculty and institutional research,” explain the authors. “Despite their research and human capital prowess, universities haven’t historically focused on using their research capabilities to improve their own capacity. The cobbler often has no shoes, but that may be starting to change.”

The authors point to Penn State University’s relatively recent launch of its EdTech Network, a partnership between members of the university community and leaders, inventors, and entrepreneurs in educational technology. Rather than pitting the administrators and entrepreneurs against each other, this model invites them to work together, drawing on academic and private sector resources alike to improve student outcomes and benefit the institution. Penn State is offering office, manufacturing, and research space for partners to co-locate on campus. Students and faculty are piloting new technology and the EdTech Network has already engaged a number of leading companies, investors and others since it launched in August 2015.

A Growing Community

Already, the EdTech Network has partnered with InsideTrack, a student success organization that supports colleges and universities in improving student enrollment, completion and career readiness.

“The expanded partnership with InsideTrack is the first step towards creating a network of select companies with innovative technology solutions to work with us to develop environments that will help students succeed,” said Rose Piccioni, director for Penn State’s EdTech Network, in a statement.

As part of the four-year agreement, InsideTrack will co-locate six full-time employees and four student interns to an office on the University Park campus.

The EdTech Network has also partnered with Dreamit, ranked by Forbes as a top 10 start-up accelerator and by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) as a top 20 most active VC globally.

Specific opportunities for collaboration with the EdTech Network include: conducting or participating in edtech research, sponsoring or engaging in edtech-focused hack-a-thons, addressing specific educational challenges facing the University, sponsoring or attending EdTech Network Summits, leveraging technology to enhance an existing World Campus solution, and working with the Network to build a local EdTech Innovation Hub. There are no application fees or obligations to become a member of the EdTech Network


This article originally appeared in eCampus News on July 25th, 2016.

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