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Partnerships & Collaboration for Sustainability

Research Parks-Company Partners on Campus

In the future, the lines between academia and the corporate world will continue to be blurred. Many technology companies are searching for space on university campuses in Canada in what are being called research parks. In 2005 Sybase iAnywhere moved to the university of Waterloo's Research and Technology Park as a tenant. What the park provided was access to 50 like-minded tech companies including Research in Motion the makers of the Blackberry. Companies in the park not only have access to each other but also a new talent pool from University coop students and future employees. About 95% of Sybase's development team is made up of University of Waterloo graduates.

The company also has access to cutting-edge research and employees work with researchers from the school and attend university seminars. Dale Gann, president of the University of Victoria’s Vancouver Island Technology Park believes the trend to companies in a like minded community in campus parks is the trend of the future. The money from rents is not great, but universities see the partnerships as contributing to long term sustainability. (Atchison, Sep 21, 2010, Tech Firms Clamour to Set Up Shop on Campus) Partnerships can also benefit the community. In 2010 the University of Waterloo partnered with RIM and Greentec to host a Green e-Waste day. Faculty, students and community could bring their used electronic equipment to be recycled environmentally by Greentec. (Renjie's Posterous)

Education and Design: An Educational, Design and Community Partnership

Designer Emily Pilloton, a humanitarian design activist and author of Design Revolution, believes that design can make a difference in communities. With her partner she moved to rural Bertie County, NC, one of the poorest counties in the state to bring her design skills and theories to their school system. Before moving she traveled back and forth to work with Dr. Chip Zullinger, the school superintendent to build four learning landscapes. In August 2010, she and her partner began teaching an innovative new class called Studio H. It is a design-build elective for high school students that utilizes the minds and bodies of students to create design projects within the community. View the Ted talk to the right to hear about this truly innovative partnership project. Read more in Design Mind and on Ted Speakers: Emily Pilloton

Sharing Space for Community-Educational Projects

In our Model Classroom section we highlight a Scarborough High School, Bendale Business and Technical who have partnered with non profit Foodshare to build vegetable gardens in front of their school. The school involved almost every program in the project; carpentry, plumbing, horticulture, culinary, landscaping and business. The produce was used by culinary students and sold in a pay-what you can garden market open to the community. Joint efforts like this create ties with the neighbourhood while providing real world experience for the students. Reclaiming unused land for community projects models sustainability and real "educitizenship."(See more on our page An Edible Education)

Parent - School Partnerships

Decisions for reform that are not just based on school boards viewpoints but also include parent participation can lead to higher student achievement. The McKinsey & Co.'s November 2010 "How the World's Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better" reports on Ontario's initiative --the Ministry of Education's Parent Reaching Out Fund. The fund provides grants to school parent groups or student councils based on their ideas to improve parent engagement. In initiatives like these parents are directly involved in improving student achievement. With strong parent and student council partnerships, reform has a better chance for success. Ontario schools were ranked globally at the top as highest performers with a history of sustained improvement. (Hammer, Nov 27, 2010, Globe & Mail)

Collaboration on Services

According to The EdUnify Task Force an initiative of the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC), educational institutions spend 4% of their operating expenses on IT or about $50 Billion a year. They estimate that half that or about $25 billion is spent to support disparate and pieced-together applications that connect and move data inside and outside of the institutions.The EdUnify project has been initiated to address these cost inefficiencies by creating an open and transparent web services system driven by community participation to enable "cost effective connectivity between data systems to accelerate performance and service, to simplify data access and research, and to improve data quality along the higher education lifecycle. (EdUnify-Find-it here-web.pdf)

These web services are application sharing interfaces that allow programs and systems to access data from other programs and systems. According to Tanya Roscorla, "EdUnify will make publishing, finding, organizing and combining Web services much easier for schools and universities, said Miles, who worked on a development team for EdUnify. And it will also help create a culture of sharing Web services through a common standard." (EdUnify Cultivates a Culture of Sharing Web Services Converge, 2010) Initiatives like EdUnify could mean that schools could save money, provide more efficient access to data and respond to student needs quicker.

To do this though organizations will need to share and agree on standards. Arnie Miles, a professor at Georgetown University, says, "It is imperative that we not just work in islands of K-12 and higher ed....It is imperative that the standards cross that boundary line; it really has to be K-20 or pre-K through 20. This is imperative, and it’s not just in Web services, but it’s in everything.” (Roscola, Nov 1, 2010). For more information see EdUnify Service-Oriented Architecture Governance Framework

Openness: One example - Opencast Matterhorn Project

As mentioned previously under, emerging trends the movement to Open Access and Open Educational resources will continue in the future and could provide cost effective solutions to costly software and educational materials. In 2001, MIT made available its complete course offerings online. Most early efforts in open education have been supported by wealthy schools or large foundations who want to use technology to ensure an equal distribution of quality knowledge. One project that began in July 2009 funded by a $1.5 million grant from the William & Flora Hewlett and Andrew W. Mellon foundations is Opencast Matterhorn Project, "an international open source software project designed to ease the recording, processing and distribution of academic content for institutions around the world." (

UC Berkeley and 13 partner institutions have developed a communal webcasting platform for recording and sharing video and audio lectures. Matterhorn 1.0 was released this year. Their three guiding principles are to lower the costs of lecture capture, allow institutions to scale up to a more reliable and productive webcasting system and to increase the impact by providing more students with a richer and more engaging experience.

Listen to to the Opencast 2009 Announcement in the video to the right and read more about the project and software at Opencast Project.

International Partnerships

In an October 29, 2010, Toronto Star article Universities Change with the Times, President and Vice Chancellor of York University, Mamdouh Shoukri talks about the importance for universities of internationalization. As societies have become more and more interdependent, he feels international experience is essential for students. To achieve this, he recommends international curriculum and partnerships with foreign institutions so students can work on dual or joint degrees. Because of evolving e-learning, he also feels it is necessary to share curricula nationally and globally. He believes the sharing of expertise and curricula will improve learning and more efficiently deploy resources.

At North London's Ashmount Primary School, grade 6 students log on to their computer once a week to take math online. Their online teacher of math is in Punjab, India. The school is one of three UK schools that is outsourcing part of their math courses to India. BrightSpark Education trains teachers in India and connects them with British students in the tutoring program. The cost is about half the cost of a personal tutor. The program is controversial. Some teachers fear their jobs are threatened; they question whether teachers in India have the proper credentials and if they understand the cultural differences. BrightSpark, however, insists that the service is supplementary. Read more in an October 24, 2010 report by Julia Werdigier in the New York Times British Kids Log On and Learn Math-in Punjab.

Educational and Industry Partnerships: Internship, Mentoring and Expert Assistance

Kathy Baron in Seven Steps to building school-to-industry partnerships (Edutopia, Sept 27, 2010) states that collaborations with industry and professionals is a key component of career-oriented education. Industry and business can have input into curriculum and students can gain through internships , mentors and expert assistance and schools can often get financial support.

The article offers seven steps to partnerships created by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the California Department of Education, Cesar Armendariz at USC, Joseph Cocozza at Bravo Medical Magnet High School, and Jeff Merker at Sheldon High School

1. Find Partners with a Shared Vision and Goals

Growth industries have a stake in training next generation workers. Example: Chris Schuring, Ternion Bio Industries, near Sacramento, became a mentor to help students in the Green Energy Technology Academy (GETA) at Laguna Creek High School understand the renewable-energy industry and to give them the tools to succeed. "Otherwise," he says, "there won't be anybody to take over when people like me are done."

2. Remember that Leadership Matters

Cesar Armendariz, director of community outreach for USC's health science campus, says former university president Steven Sample set the tone with his philosophy that faculty and staff didn't need to solve the problems and ills of the world, but they could make a difference in their backyard. As Armendariz explains, "President Sample made it a point that every faculty, staff, or student should, at some point, touch the life of a neighborhood student."

3. Get Creative with Money and Donations

Many school run fund raising programs community partnerships. Ask businesses to provide equipment and other non-cash resources. Laguna Creek teacher Eric Johnson wrote a grant proposal and an alternative fuel company to donate a $17,000 gas chromatograph. A trade teacher at Sheldon High, Jeff Merker, finds that lumber companies will give away extraneous boards if the school will pick them up. (Click here to read more about how a CTE program can be funded.)

4. Get It in Writing

All agencies and involved parties should agree on learning objectives, expectations, and time commitment. Agree on the skills and knowledge students will get from internships, how often mentors and students will meet, for what time period and agree on any fianl projects. Set up expectations for interns behavior, attire, and responsibilities.

5. Establish Ongoing Supervision and Communication

Even a signed contract is no guarantee of smooth sailing. Teachers need to establish regular communication with students, mentors, and supervisors at the work site. Think of it as progress reports. Is the student motivated? Is the work or project as relevant as expected? It's a continuing process of formal and informal evaluations through grades and written observations (see CASN website/link above) and checking in with each student individually.

6. Make a Commitment for the Long Haul

With a strong commitment from all institutions and structure, academy partnerships can endure. Bravo Medical Magnet High School and the USC medical campus have been working together for 15 years.

7. Be Patient -- It Doesn't Happen Overnight

Effective and lasting partnerships takes time. So seek out support from a respected community leader -- a member of the school board or chamber of commerce. Ask for help to generate a buzz and line up prospective partners. Use word of mouth by asking students and parents to spread the word to find who could be a mentor and who could offer an internship. .(Baron, Edutopia, 2010)

Next up, see Professional Development Teachers