Research and Analysis to Support STEMnet Prepared for the Maryland Business Roundtable
June 10, 2011
Table of Contents
Executive Summary ............................................................................................................... 3 Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 3 Methodology & Project Process ................................................................................................................... 3
Research Findings .................................................................................................................. 4 Overarching Observations ............................................................................................................................ 4 State Snapshots............................................................................................................................................. 5 Related Initiatives ......................................................................................................................................... 8 Governance ................................................................................................................................................... 9 Content and Quality ...................................................................................................................................... 9 Funding ......................................................................................................................................................... 9 Policy and Advocacy.................................................................................................................................... 10 Technology .................................................................................................................................................. 10
Recommendations .............................................................................................................. 11 Appendix A: Research Questions for MBRT STEMnet Analysis ............................................... 16 Appendix B: Experts Consulted ............................................................................................ 18
Executive Summary STEMnet will be an important asset for STEM education in Maryland. It will provide quality instructional resources and a powerful platform for interaction among teachers, STEM-industry professionals and students. STEMnet is not an end unto itself; it is a vehicle to help achieve larger student learning and ultimately economic development objectives. The Maryland Business Roundtable (MBRT) is leading the development of STEMnet recognizing that innovation and action are needed to achieve dramatic gains in student learning. MBRT raised seed funds and in-kind support, made the case for federal funds and has secured a detailed Memorandum of Understanding with the Maryland State Department of Education to launch STEMnet. MBRT has exhibited impressive thoroughness and thoughtfulness in working toward the launch of STEMnet. Important first steps have been executed well, but attention must also now turn to the creation of a business plan that addresses long-term issues such as governance, content development and renewal, editorial control and funding sustainability. Throughout the business planning process, MBRT will need to maintain a focus on its strategic vision even as it plots implementation and operational details. Maryland is certainly not alone in trying to “move the needle” in STEM disciplines. Numerous states are dealing with the same issues Maryland will confront, and there will undoubtedly be opportunities to share resources. There also will be key resources within Maryland that should not be overlooked, such as the mathematics curriculum generated by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). Maximizing and aligning existing resources is an obvious objective but will require specific attention. Additional thought is needed to choreograph the future of STEMnet, clarify how it relates to other resources and ensure it successfully achieves its objectives—but STEMnet is undoubtedly off to a very promising start.
Introduction MBRT’s leadership is carefully sequencing the development and launch of STEMnet and requested that Education First Consulting provide research and recommendations to ensure that STEMnet is positioned to achieve early and lasting success.
Methodology & Project Process In April and May of 2011, Education First Consulting identified and reviewed online STEM resources, portals and initiatives in other states. Our goal was to identify relevant lessons, resources to leverage, pitfalls to avoid and areas for potential collaboration with partners outside of Maryland. Specifically, we:
Worked with MBRT to develop detailed research questions and objectives (see Attachment A); Conducted research on STEM efforts in 18 states (focusing most intensively on nine states where efforts most relevant to STEMnet are under way); Interviewed key national and state STEM leaders and observers (see Attachment B); and
Drew upon our team’s knowledge and network of STEM leaders to analyze our research and interview findings and prepare recommendations for MBRT.
Throughout our engagement with MBRT, we maintained regular communication with MBRT and provided updates on our progress. Key findings are described below.
Research Findings Overarching Observations 1. Maryland is leading the nation with its development of STEMnet. No other state is planning to develop an approach with similar depth and scale—at least not focused purely on STEM. Other states are using the Internet to share resources, but it is not a centerpiece of their STEM strategy and interactivity is a limited feature of these sites. Instead, most other online resources and networks are being used to present static information. In some cases they are being used for “match-making” (MN) to connect teachers with community resources and teaching materials. Maryland’s approach is unique and ahead of the rest of the nation for its intensive attention to teacher needs and use, commitment to interactivity, high quality content and its intensive approach to developing and rolling out content in a specific field (i.e. Biology). 2. Governance is a key operational issue. Governance of similar online STEM initiatives and resources varies considerably from state to state. Many efforts began as partnerships between business, higher education and/or the state with one group having overall leadership and subcontracting many of the operational details to a third party. As the effort has grown and/or the novelty has faded, similar efforts have revisited whether the governance model makes sense and, in some cases, have made changes such as creating a separate entity. 3. Site content is critical but is often neglected. Interviews with STEM leaders and a careful review of online resources confirmed that the quality of the content—including how relevant, thoughtful and fresh it is—correlates closely to usefulness, but sites that start with a bang often fade away because there is not sufficient discipline or clarity about how frequently the resource will be updated, who is responsible for maintaining the content and who has editorial control. Online interaction is also viewed as an insufficient substitute for in-person collaboration but can be a powerful complement and resource if maintained and used well—and when it comes to content, more is not necessarily better. There is also not a clear understanding or agreed-upon rubric for what constitutes quality; so if unattended, the content can vary dramatically. That said, vetting content consistently is a huge manpower burden and could stifle innovation if decisions are left to only a few.
4. There are immediate, concrete opportunities for Maryland to share knowledge with other states through multi-state networks and state-to-state collaboration. NGA and Battelle both support multi-state efforts to share knowledge and best practices focused on implementation of STEM policies and programs at the state level. Numerous states are already in conversation about collaborative projects and ways to share resources.
State Snapshots Below are highlights from states that are advancing work that may be related to what Maryland envisions with STEMnet. Again, no state is embarking on an effort that is identical to STEMnet, but there are aspects of the approaches profiled below that resemble Maryland’s approach. See supplementary state-by-state analysis for more detailed information about each of these states. Arizona Arizona’s Integrated Data to Enhance Arizona Learning platform (IDEAL) (https://www.ideal.azed.gov/p/) is “designed to provide educational stakeholders with a rich library of professional and curriculum resources, collaboration tools for immediate access to peers, professional development courses, and just in time learning resources.” It was developed through a partnership between the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and the Applied Learning Technologies Institute at Arizona State University. The platform has four main purposes: 1) to provide curriculum resources; 2) to provide professional development; 3) to foster collaboration; and 4) to support school improvement. According to a tutorial video on the website, the curriculum resources are posted by a combination of teachers, administrators and ADE curriculum experts. Resources are searchable by grade level, subject area, strand, concept and performance objective. A service called Discovery Streaming offers 40,000 video clips. Users may view lesson plans aligned to AIMS (state exams) or use a tool to develop their own lesson plans. The website features links to iTunes U to download additional content, a Thinkfinity professional development tool developed using Verizon’s MarcoPolo, a searchable professional development course catalog and a space called Intel Teach that helps teachers learn how to integrate technology into their lessons. Florida The STEMflorida portal (http://stemflorida.businesscatalyst.com) is being designed to communicate to stakeholders what STEM is and why it is important. Scheduled to officially launch in July 2011, the STEMflorida effort is primarily driven by business leaders and economic development needs, rather than the education community. Currently, there are not plans to build this resource into an interactive, resource-rich portal. Instead it will provide links to websites and materials on why STEM is important. A Business Steering Committee funded by a grant from the state’s workforce development agency is leading the entire effort, with staff support provided by a private contractor. The future governance and organizational structure has yet to be determined and is a key question for the group. This effort is currently in development and may include elements that are relevant to MBRT. Minnesota The GetSTEM web portal (http:www.getSTEM-mn.com) is a partnership between the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA), the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and business leaders to connect Minnesota educators with science and technology businesses, in order to better prepare students for postsecondary education and STEM careers. Teachers may use the website to “ask” for supplies, guest presentations, volunteers for field trips and other types of support. Local businesses can then either respond
to the teacher “asks” or use the website to “offer” their own services. An analysis of the site reveals that this matching function is not being actively used. Teachers post, on average, several “asks” per week while “offers” are much less frequent. The website also shares a calendar of STEM events. A “successes” section highlights successful matches between teachers and businesses. The site does not include functionality to monitor the quality of content or to rate volunteers. Hawaii Hawaii has stopped updating its online STEM portal (http://www.mystemhawaii.com) as the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) assesses how to remake the site to deliver on its Race to the Top plans for a vibrant STEM portal. At this point, very little has been decided. There is strong interest in having the site house instructional resources, PD opportunities, student internship opportunities and links to connect educators with STEM industry partners. The state DOE has hired a contractor, eWorld, to develop the site. The site is targeting a Fall 2011 launch and material will be added on an ongoing basis. It is important to note that there is also another website affiliated with the University of Hawaii-Manoa (http://www.siphawaii.org/). HIDOE hopes to collaborate with this site and is considering whether it makes sense to merge the efforts. Indiana The I-STEM Resource Network (https://www.istemnetwork.org) is a “partnership of public and private higher education institutions, K-12 schools, business, and government. Started as a collaboration among 18 institutions of higher education in 10 regions throughout Indiana, I-STEM includes committees comprised of educational content experts and practitioners who come together to design and employ programs to address STEM issues.” When the I-STEM website was launched four years ago, the site was intended to share lessons and resources with teachers, as well as national and local STEM news. The effort was later merged with the Indiana Science Initiative (I-STEM), which is piloting "inquiry-based science education," and more specifically new science textbooks. The I-STEM team is now almost solely focused on supporting this, and is therefore not actively updating many aspects of the website. The group updates the website when local STEM network institutions (which are all institutions of higher education) send a piece of news they would like to have posted online. The original target audience was teachers and there is a resource section that includes lessons plans where teachers can share lessons. However, this area is not being frequently used or updated. In order to recognize quality, the site had a feature that allowed users to “recommend” resources and comment on resources. This feature did not catch on, however. The new content on the site focused mainly on providing updates to the general public from regional STEM centers. North Carolina The current portal for North Carolina's STEM network, the NC STEM Community Collaborative (https://www.ncstem.org), seeks to answer questions including who is involved in STEM issues in NC at the state and local level. Its primary audience includes policymakers and business and non-profit executives who are interested in STEM. The site displays program updates specific to NC STEM that are updated regularly but does not include outside resources or interactive components. NC STEM is undergoing a strategic planning process that could result in changes to the functionality of the website. Three things may change as a result of this process: 1) an online hub targeted at teachers that shares public and private STEM resources (or at least a list of where resources are available offline) may be added; 2) NC STEM uses SocialText to share documents internally as part of their coordination with Battelle's multi-state STEM network and they are considering expanding this to share documents across the network; and 3) NC STEM is considering a more dramatic website redesign for NCSTEM.org to make it more interactive and resource rich.
Ohio The Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN) website primarily serves as the network’s digital backbone by broadcasting hub-, state- and national-level STEM-specific news, events and feature stories. To assist regional hubs and partners, the website (http://www.OSLN.org) prominently features “STEMscape” – a collection of categorized, hub-specific features and stories updated on a monthly basis. Hubs use these ready-made, local stories for advocacy purposes to showcase their on-going STEM progress to key partners. Secondary goals of the website include helping visitors – primarily Ohio citizens– get the information they need to better understand STEM and the OSLN and connect them to the network or directly to a regional hub. The website also drives students to http://notjustrocketscience.ning.com/, a companion website created by the Ohio Board of Regents for connecting STEM students across the state. The “Lounge” section contains “concepts and conversations ranging from policy to practice.” It shares short articles mostly written by OSLN staff and invites comments, though a quick survey of some posts reveals that the site is relatively inactive with no comments or stories from 2011. The site also provides an “especially for educators” page, which links to a handful of organizations that provide student learning tools, curriculum models and professional development resources. However, this resource is not featured prominently on the site. The site supports networking and collaboration of practitioners to advance STEM education work by driving them to the non-virtual, human networks that exist outside of the website. One of its challenges has been keeping up with the needs of its audience. The first wave focused on giving citizens tools they could use to make the case for STEM and the OSLN. The second wave seems focused on giving STEM hubs tools they can use to tell their STEM stories and grow their base. Tennessee The TN State Department of Education launched the STEMresources.com website (http://www.stemresources.com) to share resources with teachers that link Science and Math standards to STEM pedagogy. Creation of this site was led by Middle TN State University, with support from the state and others. Now, Tennessee is launching a Tennessee STEM Innovation network, and hopes to build a related website, "TSIN" that would serve as the official homepage for the state's network while also supporting further development with STEMresources.org. Tennessee is in the nascent stages of launching the TSIN. Tennessee hopes to build out the STEMResources website to function as more of a hub for Professional Development to teachers, streaming interactive content. They also have resources from Race to the Top to build in learning communities and use iTunes as a resource for content. Tennessee envisions the TSIN website as a more static repository for information, like the OSLN website. They are currently planning to host that site within Battelle, but the final decision has not been made. TSIN would then link from this site to STEMResources and other hubs down the road. The state is working in partnership with Battelle to develop and support the TSIN and is relying primarily on Race to the Top funds to support the work but will need to diversify its funding to expand and sustain the effort. Texas Launched by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Project Share (http://projectsharetexas.org) is a “global online learning community” that includes online professional development for teachers statewide, professional learning communities, content repositories and online instructional materials. This site is not specifically about STEM, rather it is an interesting example of an online resource portal for teachers and students. After Project Share’s first year, it will add an ePortfolio pilot for students, which will serve as a digital record of scholarly work and extracurricular accomplishments and can be used as academic and personal records that students can share as they transition from K-12 education and into college and careers. Project Share is a state initiative, led by TEA, intended for educators and students. TEA has and continues to work closely with the 20 regional education service centers to ensure that Texas districts have
access and support in Project Share. Other partners include The New York Times Knowledge NetworkBuilding, which offers a wide range of adult and continuing education opportunities, including online courses, programs and webcasts. Project Share also has a partnership with the PBS Digital Learning Library, a public repository of digital media learning resources including videos, images, audios and documents.
Related Initiatives Teacher Leaders Network (via the Center for Teaching Quality) The Teacher Leaders Network website (http://www.teacherleaders.org) creates a web environment that allows members of this Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) created network of “hundreds of expert educators” to:
“Engage in daily discussions around practice and policy; Collaborate on action research and other projects for improved student learning; Share their content and pedagogical expertise with pre-service and in-service teachers; and Refine their policy insights and contributing their voices to the decisions that affect the students and communities they serve.”
The website features seven public blogs, one of which highlights excerpts from the network’s online forum. The entire online environment is limited to registered users. Ohio Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development While not STEM-specific, the Ohio Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (http://www.ohioascd.com) provides interactive, online professional development for teachers. A paid membership is required to access the resources on this site. Additionally, the Ohio Department of Education communicates the State Board adopted model curricula to educators through an online Instructional Management System (http://ims.ode.state.oh.us/ode/ims/Default.asp?bhcp=1). The site contains basic links to resources (JPEG diagrams and PDFs/Word Docs) and offers links to assessments, lesson plans, standards, benchmarks and indicators. Searching can be filtered by content area and grade level. The primary aim of the website is to provide resources for teachers to align their curriculum and practices to the state’s standards.
Governance Maryland STEMnet STEMnet is run by the Maryland Business Roundtable and governed by an MOU with the Maryland State Department of Education.
Other States Florida: STEMflorida is overseen by the Business Steering Council and Workforce Florida; day-to-day operations are handled by a third-party contractor, Fairfield Index. Minnesota: GetSTEM-MN is governed by a steering committee that includes its lead partners the Minnesota High Tech Association and the Minnesota Department of Education. North Carolina: NCSTEM is governed entirely by the non-profit that coordinates the effort, NCSTEM/MCNC. Ohio: OSLN is governed by Battelle, which has an MOU with the state. Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Education oversees TSIN however Battelle is the management partner.
Content and Quality Maryland STEMnet The MOU between MBRT and MSDE calls for differentiated levels of authority for users relative to uploading, organizing and downloading resources. STEMnet’s intensive focus on Biology in year one (and other subjects in subsequent years) is unique.
Other States Other states have had demonstrated little focus on this aspect of their online resources. However, some unique features include: Indiana: I-STEM allowed users to “recommend” resources; however, this feature has not been well used. Minnesota: Users can post “asks” and “offers”; there is no quality control on posts or rating of volunteers through the site. Tennessee: TN’s STEMResources site allows teachers to post directly. There is no effort to rate these resources.
Funding Maryland STEMnet Public and private dollars will be invested in STEMnet; private dollars and in-kind support have already been provided and an MOU and funding agreement has been executed with the State Department of Education to support piloting the site in Biology.
Other States Florida: STEMflorida is funded with public resources through a Workforce Florida grant (an unspecified portion of a $580,000 grant). Due to limited public funding, the effort is trying to diversify funding support to include the private sector. Indiana: A grant from the Lilly Endowment initiated the ISTEM network, including the website. Additional support came from other partners, including the Indiana Department of Education.
Minnesota: NGA grant money seeded this project. Thomson Reuters made an in-kind donation to host the website, Microsoft donated backend software (SharePoint), and Avtex does pro bono development. Other sponsoring organizations have given $10,000 each per year. Ohio: Ohio received significant support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (as part of a larger overall STEM investment) and also Battelle. Tennessee: The development of TN’s TSIN efforts is being supported with Race to the Top resources and also by Battelle. The existing site is supported by resources at TDOE and the host university.
Policy and Advocacy Maryland STEMnet MBRT has been active in both the state’s Race to the Top application and its implementation of the award. MBRT Executive Director June Streckfus currently co-chairs the Governor’s STEM Taskforce.
Other States Of the states considered for this analysis, only a few had policy or advocacy components. Ohio: OSLN posted a communications and advocacy component with an online “AdvoKit” in 2009 to rally, educate and prepare local advocates statewide for working on the policy and funding aspects of the budget in support of STEM funding but it has not been used since then. The overall effort includes a policy approach to supporting STEM; however, that is not a component of the online resource. Tennessee: TSIN would like to develop a social networking tool to promote understanding of STEM. They hope to support innovation by recognizing innovative practices though are not explicitly focused on advocacy or policy. Texas: TEA is working with PBS to increase awareness of the ProjectSHARE among teachers, students and parents through PSAs and print materials.
Technology Maryland STEMnet To power Maryland’s STEM initiatives, MBRT is developing the STEMnet technical platform in an open-source environment. This strategy offers several advantages; it leverages a growing community of developers; it provides great flexibility and scalability for content and data
Other States Minnesota: Avtex is doing development on Microsoft SharePoint's platform and Thomson Reuters hosts the site. Avtex provides ongoing support when needed. The site is being licensed to other states, beginning with Arizona. MHTA will continue to manage the site for the foreseeable future. Ohio: OSLN’s developer, Fahlgren, initially considered Basecamp if they were going to do more online collaboration, but left teacher collaboration to an outside group, which is using Basecamp. They tried
management and it supports principles of transparency, security and collaboration.
using the SocialText platform, and strongly recommend against using it. Down the road they may "get to use" Knowledge Works as a teacher platform.
MBRT is developing the initial framework in Drupal with a series of leading technology partners and advisors, including IBM, Northrop Grumman and Earth Networks.
Tennessee: There are currently no specific plans for what will happen to the developed tools, but Tennessee would like to be on the cutting edge for integrating data into its STEM work as well as creating a web tool for professional development.
Recommendations This report presents recommendations pertaining to the operational aspects of STEMnet including components that should factor into the short and long-term business plan. It does not focus on the specific programmatic elements of STEMnet (which are well-documented in MBRT’s STEMnet Teachers Hub paper). The recommendations below are based on what we learned from our interviews with state and national STEM thought leaders, a thorough review of similar efforts and our knowledge about the start-up and success of other organizations. 1. Ensure that STEMnet continues to be part of a bigger strategy. STEMnet offers an innovative approach to connecting teachers with instructional content and STEM resources in industry and higher education. It also provides a vehicle for connecting STEM education to the state’s economic development needs. In MBRT’s words, it is a critical component of “a sustainable STEM education-workforce-research-economic development strategy for the state.” The Governor’s STEM Task Force made seven recommendations with clear actions, benchmarks and timelines. August marks the two-year anniversary of the launch of those recommendations and may provide a productive opportunity to complement the governor’s “State Stats” by reconvening the Task Force to ensure that there is continued coordination and alignment across other elements of the Task Force’s recommendations. The STEMnet Student Hub plan already calls for content to be mapped to career opportunities in Maryland. Ideally, this would provide a pipeline to real-world human resource development in specific industries. Eventually there should be an explicit focus on improving STEM pathways up and through high school and into the real world and innovation economy. Among other things, this will provide a critical “so what” to stimulate student motivation. Next Steps Consider whether to reconvene the Governor’s Task Force to revisit the alignment of and additional collaboration across the seven recommendations. As business plan drafting begins, identify specific connections to workforce needs and include the goal of STEM innovation in the economy in Maryland as an essential component of the plan.
Timeline By September 2011
By December 2011
2. Maintain MBRT’s focus on the strategic vision while following through on the implementation and operational details. MBRT deserves recognition for stepping up to provide hands-on capacity building for this interactive web resource that goes beyond the “stay the course” mentality that has often dominated graduation requirement debates around the country. However, a consequence of MBRT being out front and providing so much direct, hands-on support for the effort is that the effort could easily be overwhelmed by programmatic specifics including: Conceiving the idea; Building and regularly updating the curriculum and resources; Convening the teachers; Coordinating with business partners; Training the volunteers; and Designing a student engagement strategy. MBRT has wisely sequenced the launch of STEMnet to include sufficient time for expansion by starting with a realistic number of volunteers (twenty-five) to be trained in the fall for action in two schools. Its aspirations are ambitious, however. MBRT has called for “coordination, resource dissemination, and idea sharing among all of Maryland’s STEM stakeholders (P-12 teachers, students, parents, higher education faculty, business and community leaders, economic development officers, researchers, and policymakers.) This will bring a level of corresponding complexity. There needs to be a realistic estimation of the level of effort required to continue to engage stakeholders in this work. Driving engagement, continuing to show the online value of the collaboration – instead of a default to phone, email or face to face – is going to have to be a daily reality of the work and take significant support. As MBRT expands its focus to include even more stakeholders, it will be critical for the organization to maintain its strategic vision while ensuring operational effectiveness. This will require a delicate balance where MBRT should maintain the overall quality control and vision but may opt to subcontract the dayto-day operational details of the effort. This recommendation may have implications for the governance structure. Next Steps The business plan should assess what tasks and operational details MBRT should “own” internally and which ones would be most effective to subcontract.
Timeline By November 2011
3. Clarify STEMnet’s long-term governance structure. In order to execute effectively on Recommendation Two above, MBRT should fully explore short- and longterm governance options for STEMnet. It may be wise, for example, for governance to be overseen by an independent (or quasi-independent) entity or affiliate of MBRT, rather than directly by MBRT. Determining the long-term ownership of this resource, which has the potential to become a significant program and is an integral partner to the STEM work happening in the state is a critical consideration for MBRT.
The Maryland State Department of Education is an important partner for this work – at both the strategic and operational level – and it will be important to clarify their role very soon. There should, for example, be a statement of work for the State Department of Education that is as clear and specific as the MOU for the MBRT. Next Steps The business plan should assess the pros and cons of various governance options for STEMnet and facilitate a process for MBRT to map out its desired approach. The business plan should include articulation of short- and long-term role of and relationship with the Maryland State Department of Education throughout this process.
Timeline By November 2011
By December 2011
4. Leverage resources and join the new multi-state network of states with STEM initiatives. Like most states, Maryland’s Race to the Top plan aims to use technology to better collect, evaluate and disseminate new curricula and professional development modules aligned with Common Core Standards. In addition to STEMnet, the MSDE plans to “enlarge the Online Instructional Toolkit to equip teachers with curriculum information, model lessons, formative assessments, and professional development opportunities.” This may have direct relevance for STEMnet when it turns attention in Year Two to Algebra. Maryland is also a governing state for PARCC (the Partnership for Assessment and Readiness for College and Careers) and will be actively involved in the development of a K-12 assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards in mathematics. This may include the creation of resources directly related to STEMnet. Multi-State and State-to-State Efforts Maryland should also participate actively in the collaborative conversation that has begun among other states working on STEM initiatives. Ohio, California, Texas, New York, North Carolina, Washington (and likely others who have expressed interest such as Arizona, Tennessee, Minnesota and New Mexico) are beginning to identify areas for collaboration. The group will be meeting to share ideas in mid-June. To date the central ideas have focused on:
Design of a communications strategy that can be customized to reflect individual state identities but represent the significance and strength of the multi-state network. MBRT’s work with Peter Hart on how to message STEM with teachers would be a valuable contribution. Identification of common measures of success to help move STEM education forward and that go beyond the traditional measures typically reported and collect or develop the appropriate measurement tools to collect data to report on those measures related to progress in STEM talent (education, workforce development) and jobs (economic development, job growth). (Change the Equation is also doing this type of work, but from a largely business perspective.)
Next Steps The business plan should identify the available resources and opportunities for collaboration between MSDE and MBRT. MBRT (potentially in partnership with MSDE) should join multi-state efforts to share resources. MBRT should collaborate directly with states whose work offers potential lessons and insights.
Timeline By November 2011 By December 2011 By December 2011
5. Clarify editorial control and prioritize content quality. MBRT’s MOU with the Maryland State Department of Education rightly calls for differentiated levels of authority for users relative to uploading, organizing and downloading resources. This issue of editorial control and the selection or development of curriculum content and other resources is critical and should be a key focus of the STEMnet business plan.1 Our interviews and careful analysis of more than a dozen online resources revealed that few – if any states – are actively managing their sites to ensure the content stays up to date. However, many interviewees affirmed that the usability and demand for the online resource depends on how actively content is managed (both the quality and frequency). Interviewees recommended that resources be kept current and that content be user-generated but validated by experts. Promising STEM programs should want to include their content on the site, and be encouraged to keep it up to date. Other states recommended a third party be involved so that those operating the network/site don't have to spend time their managing the validation content. Interviewees also recommended that resources be automatically sunsetted into an archive to keep the site fresh and avoid cluttering it with old resources. It is possible that users could update content regularly in order for it to stay active on the site past its sunset date. Next Steps The business planning process should consider options for managing editorial content (including the quality and frequency) and should consider best practices from other actively-used online resources.
Timeline By December 2011
6. Design and sequence communications to drive demand. MBRT has done well to “know its customer” by testing which resources, activities and programs will be most useful to teachers, and achievable/incremental usage goals have been set through 2014. Goals have also been set for the recruitment of STEM Specialists; it is less clear that goals have been set for student use. Whatever the case, at the most basic level, teachers, students and STEM specialists will need to know about STEMnet in order for it to be used—and each constituency may need to be reached in a different way.
There is a STEM lesson quality rubric currently under validation from experts across the country that could be of use as a self-evaluation or third party evaluation tool. It will be ready this summer from the Dayton Regional STEM Center and is currently online in draft form, http://www.daytonregionalstemcenter.org/stem-tools/.
Next Steps The business plan should include details designed to create and maintain demand from launch and beyond.
Timeline By December 2011
7. Focus on sustainability. IBM’s strong support and federal Race to the Top dollars have fueled the launch of STEMnet but a sustainable business model will be needed to operate the resource long-term. Some states have focused on a subscription base; others are relying solely on public or private revenue; most are incorporating all the above. What is the right mix for Maryland? And is the long-term intent for STEMnet to remain a “co-owned” resource as currently described in the Memorandum of Understanding?
Next Steps The business plan should include a detailed strategy to ensure the longterm sustainability of STEMnet including identifying funding sources and determining the long-term “ownership” of the resource (MBRT, MSDE or other).
Timeline By December 2011
Appendix A: Research Questions for MBRT STEMnet Analysis The research analysis will consider leading state and regional efforts to determine how MBRT’s plans for STEMnet are similar and/or different from what other states or regions are doing. The research will focus on states that have been awarded Race to the Top funds as well as those with active and/or emerging STEM network activities. Overview of similar efforts
What states or regions currently have or plan to produce anything like STEMnet? Describe the goals and attributes of each effort? Who is the target audience(s) for these efforts? What constituencies will be served? (teachers, students, others) Are these efforts piloting in target districts, schools, or other areas? How are/have they selecting/ed the partners for their effort? How is the work proceeding both technically and programmatically? Who are the key actors? (vendors, government, business, K12, higher education) Who has the primary responsibility? Which of the following are a focus of the site/effort: Listing and links to established programs, learning resources and tools, funding sources and grant opportunities Communication about what STEM is and why it is important Networking and supporting collaboration of practitioners to advance STEM education work Connecting practitioners with needed resources and technical expertise Engaging supporters in advocacy-based activities Communicating STEM-related news, events and research Improving STEM teaching and learning Inspiring student interest in STEM careers What challenges have arisen? How are they being addressed?
How will the resource be governed in both the short- (next two years) and long-term (beyond two years)? How are decisions made? Will there be a public/private partnership? Who’s responsible for what? How will that be structured? What is the development timeline? What is the launch strategy? What communications activities are in play?
Quality and Content
Who is developing the content for the effort? Are there multiple partners involved in the development of content? If so, how is that structured?
How will quality be determined and controlled? Will/do they employ a user rating system? If so, describe the system. Is there a system for assessing/rating the quality of volunteers or other individuals? If so, describe. How will the content be kept fresh and demand continually stimulated? What are the innovative/unique features of this effort? How is success being measured? Are there specific quantifiable metrics for success (e.g. number of teachers being served, students graduating with STEM degrees, etc.)?
What are the total resources being devoted to this effort? How was the system initially funded and how will it be sustained? Describe the breakdown of funding: corporate, government, private? Are there restrictions tied to the funds (e.g. tied to the promotion of a certain issue area)? Do users pay to use any of the services? If so, which ones?
Policy and advocacy
Is there an advocacy and/or communications component of the effort (e.g. promoting awareness of the importance of STEM)? Describe it. Is there a particular policy approach or lens for the effort (e.g. promoting policies that support effective teachers)?
Describe the approach to technology in terms of both inflow and longer-term outflow? o Inflow: How are the necessary systems being created (e.g. build, buy, or borrow)? Are they built on an open source platform? What framework and language? o Support: How is the code base supported and enhanced? o Outflow: Ultimately what happens to the tools that are developed? Are they licensed? Shared freely? Transferred to another entity to manage? Are we going to share them? Are we going to license them? Exit and hand off to someone else? Partners: What role do partners play in the technology solution? (Do they connect audiences across different platforms? Are there content sharing or distribution agreements?) Community: What role does the community (crowd) play in the technology solution? (Do they generate content? Promote? Respond to user inquiry?) General: How is technology used to promote and coordinate STEM initiatives and resources? What kinds of activities are planned or being implemented?
Appendix B: Experts Consulted Florida: Teresa Barber & Courtney Manning, The Fairfield Index (the group that is staffing work to develop the STEMflorida network and portal) Hawaii: Derek Minakami, Elementary School Vice Principal (key staff person working to deliver the stateâ€™s STEM-related activities promised under Race to the Top, including a STEM portal) Indiana: Teresa Morris, Director of Communications and Web Presence for the I-STEM Resource Network Minnesota: Jake Lantry, Public Affairs Program Manager with the MN High Tech Association North Carolina: Karl Rectanus, Executive Director, NC STEM Community Collaborative Ohio: Steve Krak, Ohio STEM Learning Network Tennessee: Sky Gallegos, Director, TN STEM Innovation Network Texas: Kareem Zakiyyah, Texas Project Share; John Fitzpatrick, Director, Texas Communities Foundation Washington: Carolyn Landel, Program Director, Washington STEM States also considered through online research: Colorado Arizona Delaware Georgia Massachusetts New Mexico New York Rhode Island Washington, DC Additionally, information was also obtained from various conversations with the National Governors Association, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Change the Equation, TIES, Battelle, ConnectEd, the California STEM Learning Network and others.