2013 Rising Star Award Recipients
For modeling exemplary collaborative partnerships within his own institution and beyond, demonstrating how IT is a strong, contributing member of institutional strategy, and modeling an excellent example of a rising star in higher education IT.
Associate Director of Information Technology Services
Collaboration is at the foundation of Barron’s service at Macalester College and beyond. His partnership with the library is strong, partnering on everything from providing information fluency courses for every first year student to offering data management plans for faculty scholarship. Another strong campus collaboration Barron has nurtured is with the teaching, learning, and faculty development center, which elevates technology to a core part of faculty professional development at the college.
Barron has created two biannual professional development conferences for Macalester to increase the technical fluency of faculty and staff. Baron also brought the first learning management system to Macalester and was one of the leaders in bringing Google Apps to campus for all students, faculty, and staff. He reached out and helped others bring the same successful initiatives to their campuses.
To best serve Macalester and to provide great professional development for his staff and colleagues across the nation, Barron participates in many networks and firmly believes that the only way for us to move forward in higher education, particularly with respect to information technology, is together. Early in this field, Barron became an active organizer for regional networks, like the Midwest Instructional Technology Center (now NITLE), where he helped build a community among 27 colleges and planned three innovative, peer-based professional development conferences for technologists at small liberal arts colleges. This successful project led him to co-found Information Services Instruction Support (ISIS), currently consisting of about 270 people from 66 colleges and dedicated to collaborative professional development, networking, and peer mentoring for academic technologists and reference librarians at small liberal arts colleges. Barron also founded the Collaborative Liberal Arts Moodle Project (CLAMP), a group of 42 colleges that works together to provide better support for Moodle on their campuses and that makes significant contributions to the core open-source Moodle project. Barron’s national projects are complemented by work within the state of Minnesota. He and a colleague gathered all the small college help desk staff and the instructional technology staff into two groups that share successes and challenges and regularly meet to learn from each other.
Barron has been active in EDUCAUSE, having presented five times at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference and once as a featured speaker at the ELI Annual Meeting, and having published in EDUCAUSE Review. He was on the program committee for the ELI Annual Meeting and the EDUCAUSE Midwest Regional Conference. Barron has served on EDUCAUSE’s Advisory Committee for Teaching and Learning for three years, chairing that committee for his final year. A highlight of his career so far has been to attend the Frye Leadership Institute in 2005. He has also been very active in CLAC and NITLE, frequently presenting at their national conferences.
Barron’s accomplishments support and parallel significant achievements at Macalester, such as transforming the IT department into a trusted partner on campus with which the community is extremely satisfied. Client satisfaction is well over 90 percent—a feat that is rare, given how challenging it is to support the diverse needs of a college in the demanding areas of technology. Barron continually works to evolve his department from one that just provides reactive support into one that can be a more proactive and consultative partner to the community. Earning this trust has allowed him to serve Macalester far beyond the bounds of just technology. Barron serves on the president’s strategic planning committee to chart the direction for Macalester’s future as an institution. He is also on the core planning team for the new art complex, particularly because of his ability to gather the faculty and lead them to consensus. He has been working on technology for the building and also helping to design the teaching and production spaces to best support students and faculty. Barron is also in the middle of a three-year term on Macalester’s Resource and Planning Committee, the elected committee for long-range planning for the campus.
This EDUCAUSE Award is sponsored by Moran Technology Consulting, Silver Partner.
For demonstrating excellence in faculty support, collaborative leadership in the institution, and a promising future in higher education IT.
Senior Director of Networked Knowledge Ventures and Emerging Technologies
Throughout her career in higher education, Jennifer Sparrow has worked on unique and innovative projects at a variety of levels that have increased the digital fluency of students, faculty, and staff. At every level of her work, she has seized opportunities to innovate and expand the positive impact beyond stated expectations. Colleagues have recognized her enthusiasm and resulting accomplishments, as well as her potential to assume responsibility at the next level of a project or position. The trajectory of her career can be seen as a curve, rising from an individual impact on students to a broader impact on both the university’s and IT’s strategic plans. She has also increasingly sought involvement in EDUCAUSE committee leadership and other professional organizations.
Her initial role at Virginia Tech was to lead the InnovationSpace (IS), which was simply a multimedia lab when Jennifer arrived in 2009. Throughout the first year, she transformed IS into a collaborative space that encouraged the discovery, incubation, and delivery of technology tools and teaching methodologies. She accomplished this change through outreach, training, and the creation of a sandbox learning space that included emerging technologies and flexible seating to encourage faculty and students to think differently about their teaching and learning. Over four years, lab usage has increased by 25% annually to over 15,000 patrons in 2012. In addition, under Jennifer’s leadership, her team has developed and promoted a complementary set of student workshops. Faculty, staff, and students now view the IS as a resource for the incubation of new ideas and as a safe place to take pedagogical and learning risks.
The transformation of the InnovationSpace from lab to idea incubator enabled rich opportunities to facilitate proactive teaching and learning practices across the university. The availability of IS resources and tools offered Jennifer opportunities to work collaboratively with more faculty, gaining their trust and encouraging thoughtful trials of new technologies and more powerful pedagogies. She strategically procured key emerging technologies, reached out and listened to faculty, matched technology solutions with learning outcomes, provided ongoing support throughout deployment, and assessed the effectiveness of the projects. Course-level projects included digital storytelling, blogs, infographics, Google Earth projects, podcasts, and digital narratives.
Success with these course-level projects led to management support for embracing larger, ongoing initiatives that would span even more courses and academic programs. These new initiatives included an iPad project and an e-textbook pilot. The iPad project has loaned iPads to more than 500 students in 20 courses, with emphasis on working closely with faculty to develop significant learning activities to increase student engagement, computational thinking, and collaboration. In pursuing and successfully implementing the e-book pilot, Jennifer has been able to promote a platform for investigating the implications of digital resources on teaching and learning and the impact on textbook affordability. The combined impact of the course projects and larger initiatives include reaching more than 10,000 students and 100 faculty, with further growth ongoing.
As a result of broad outreach efforts, successful project implementation with visible impacts, and increasing departmental responsibilities, Jennifer was invited to participate in long-range-planning processes at both the central IT and university levels. Her specific role included providing the committees with a vision for educational technologies. She was the primary author of the university’s long-range planning narrative on e-learning. She also helped set long-range priorities for the Learning Technologies division of IT.
To complement Jennifer’s work at Virginia Tech, she has sought expanding leadership roles in the larger higher education community. She is active in EDUCAUSE, first serving as a member of and then chairing the ELI Advisory Board. She currently serves on the EDUCAUSE 2014 Program Committee. She is the chair-elect of the Learning Technologies Consortium and serves on the Consortium of College and University Media Centers’ Committee on Government Regulation and Public Policy. In 2012, Jennifer completed the Leading Change Institute, to further her leadership skills and continually grow her career aspiration toward a CIO or chief academic technology officer position.
This EDUCAUSE Award is sponsored by Moran Technology Consulting, Silver Partner.