Pay It Forward Funding Recipients Announced

The 2019 Pay It Forward Funding round, sponsored by Minnesota State Educational Innovations, featured a selection of proposals that aimed to replicate a previously funded innovation project. Applicants discovered innovations at the 2019 Shark Tank Open that they wanted to bring to their campus, and then submitted a Pay It Forward Funding proposal.

Five proposals were awarded Pay It Forward Funding innovation grants:

Rural Excellence in Education Droid (REED): Using Telepresence for Modelling Student Centered Best Practice In Education – Southwest Minnesota State University – $10,000

The State of Minnesota is facing critical teacher shortages forcing school districts and the state’s teacher education programs to seek innovative ways to encourage more students to consider a career in education. In rural areas in particular, the challenges are greatly felt. Through the use of telepresence robots SMSU will create new learning opportunities between teachers and students in different parts of the state, inspiring students in greater Minnesota to pursue a career in teaching and offering new distance learning opportunities.

A Mindful Path Towards Becoming “Our Community’s College” – Lake Superior College – $10,000

Lake Superior College us undergoing administrative and cultural change, and in the fall of 2019 the campus will launch a Distinction in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program for students. To compliment this, campus leaders will provide mindfulness opportunities to staff, faculty, and administrators interested in exploring some of the campus climate issues that students have highlighted as challenging areas.

Graphic Organizers for Reading and Writing in the Disciplines – Southwest Minnesota State University – $6,395

Everyone can be a better reader and writer. The English faculty at SMSU created an open textbook intended to help students become effective writers within their disciplines. Newly created graphic organizers will increase the reading comprehension of students within their disciplines and support use of the existing open textbook.

FlexTrack for Working Adults – Inver Hills Community College / Dakota County Technical College – $9,996

Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College are providing a new learning option to those underserved by the traditional form of course delivery in higher education. Adopting an approach to course delivery known as FlexPace from Riverland Community College, students in select programs at these schools will now be able to learn at their own pace, focus on a single class at a time, and progress within a mastery-based framework.

Engaging Trades Faculty in Classroom-Based Research to Improve Student Success – Northwest Technical College – $10,000

Most research on effective teaching practice is performed at the university level. The MN REFLECT program at Anoka-Ramsey Community College is an exception, introducing professional level research of teaching practices at the 2-year college level. However, up until now, this research has focused exclusively on liberal arts instruction. Northwest Technical College is beginning to explore effective teaching practices in the technical disciplines through a close collaboration with the MN REFLECT program.

Minnesota State faculty can learn more about innovation funding on the Innovation Funding ASA Connect page (log in using your

To view a selection of previously funded innovation projects, visit the Shark Tank Open Stories page or the ASA Newsletter’s Stories of Innovation Series.

Questions? Please contact Stephen Kelly.

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