Hi everyone, I’m turning over the microphone to the Powered by Publics team while out on maternity leave. This month’s Executive Director’s note is authored by Gregory Thornton. Enjoy! – Julia Michaels, Executive Director and Associate Vice President, Center for Public University Transformation.
By Gregory Thornton
Gregory Thornton is an assistant director in APLU’s Center for Public University Transformation
The longing for connection is a fundamental human need, as is the desire to actively contribute and create to influence our communities through our participation. We feel part of something ‘bigger’ when we have a sense of community. While Powered by Publics represents the largest-ever collaborative effort to improve college access, advance equity, and increase college degrees awarded, by design we are a large community made of smaller communities (the clusters) working together for student success.
In December, we officially launched our Learning Exchange online community for student success professionals working and growing together to share ideas, resources, challenges, and victories, to learn from and connect with one another. The Learning Exchange aligns with two of PxP’s primary objectives and many of the objectives conveyed in your responses to our 2021 member survey: networking, collaboration, partnership with colleagues across the country, sharing ideas, data, and promising practices, and providing more cross-cluster learning opportunities.
While individual clusters will continue to connect through regular Zoom calls and their Microsoft Teams channels, at its most basic, the Learning Exchange is the place to continue engagement between meetings and other events—an asynchronous, online extension of the real-time interaction. Each cluster can have content that is specific to their members and efforts. Our cluster managers serve as community builders and facilitators. However, we’ll also be looking for a representative or two from each cluster, a Learning Exchange Ambassador, if you will, outside of the cluster managers, to highlight and elevate cluster activity and really help make those larger connections to the Powered by Publics community as a whole.
Members have a platform to synthesize and share what individuals and clusters are learning in the key Powered by Publics thematic areas (Affordability, Teaching & Learning, and Holistic Student Supports) and myriad special topics meant to be seen by all. Creating an always-open, expansive space for you to place questions and ideas provides an opportunity to continue conversations started in real-time meetings and extend them into learning and collaboration opportunities for other clusters.
Our community offers a variety of learning products and activities throughout the year — from convenings and other learning events, documents highlighting activities, spotlights on successes and best practices, tools and resources, and profiles of community members and partners. From thematic content curated by PxP staff to anything else relevant to our work that you think would be valuable to share with colleagues, establishing the Learning Exchange as our ‘hub’ for these learning synthesis products and activities represents an opportunity to develop a backbone for the our entire cross-cluster learning capacity. Doing so will make the exchange of information and resources more efficient and effective.
Every individual in our community brings a wealth of experience that can benefit their peers. If you haven’t already done so, I strongly encourage you to sign up to join the conversation! Registered members can post blogs or a discussion topics, comment on existing content, upload resources you’ve found useful, or engage directly with your colleagues around the country. Initially, most content will be curated by the site admin team and your cluster managers, but the overall success and sustainability of the platform really lies with you, the membership, cultivating that sense of community, and making the Learning Exchange the hub for connecting, sharing, and learning
In the meantime, I’m happy to answer any questions or provide additional information. Please feel free to reach out to me if I may be of any further assistance! I look forward to seeing you on the Learning Exchange!
If you weren’t able to attend our launch event — where we walked through the platform, the content areas, what you can expect to see there, and how to engage with the community — here’s a link to the recording of the webinar.
Keep reading for other newsletter highlights, including: