By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Since its founding, IU Southeast has been closely tied to the communities it serves.
Students, faculty, staff and administrators have engaged with the community in countless ways, individually and on behalf of the university, but there was never a way to comprehensively document all that engagement.
That is changing.
With the help of a tool called Collaboratory, IU Southeast can now gain an overview of its wide-ranging community relations.
“What excites me most about Collaboratory is having a location where all of the information can be stored and yet be visible at the same time,” said Dr. Gloria Murray, director of the Office for Community Engagement at IU Southeast.
According to Murray, the software will allow her office to capture, report and plan community engagement for the campus. She is currently making Collaboratory known to faculty and staff, helping them to understand its benefits and begin to upload their own community engagement, service learning and civic action activity into the system.
To that end, she is leading a series of “launch parties” to demonstrate how easy it is for the campus community to help build a complete picture of IU Southeast’s past and ongoing outreach.
Collaboratory is a multifaceted tool that serves the needs of many different constituencies.
Besides documenting their service-learning activities and other community outreach, faculty members can use it to connect with colleagues engaged in similar work across the country or the world.
Reports generated by the system can be used to support funding requests, drive program development and assist in recruitment.
Leadership can use Collaboratory to reinforce university values, promote the university among key stakeholders and identify potential faculty and staff with aligned priorities.
Collaboratory is also useful to members of the community, who can build partnerships, propose areas for joint effort and share data with university faculty or administrators working in related areas.
In short, the tool not only registers ongoing activity, but presents an overview that allows new opportunities to be envisions.
IU Southeast became part of Collaboratory through the work of Dr. Kristin Norris, director of assessment in the Office of Community Engagement at IUPUI.
Norris worked together with TreeTop Commons, the founders and developers of Collaboratory, for several years, with IUPUI becoming a beta test site for the software for the IU system. IU recognized the progress of this initiative by purchasing a license for all campuses. Meanwhile, the Collaboratory system attracted the interest of community engagement directors at the regional universities, who were intending to apply for the Carnegie Community Engagement designation and needed some sort of infrastructure to gather, store and leverage information on all their relevant activities. In 2017 the chancellors of regional campuses agreed to purchase the system, a boost for Murray and her colleagues. Besides IUPUI and IU Southeast, Collaboratory is now being implemented at the Kokomo, Northwest and South Bend campuses.
For Murray, the tool is a game-changer.
“The public can go to the website and see what IU Southeast is doing in the community, how we benefit the community, the many ways we are part of the community,” Murray said.
The next Collaboratory launch party will take place on November 15 from 12:20-1:15 in the Library, Room 230, as part of the ILTE workshop series. Cookies provided! Contact Gloria Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. To reach Collaboratory directly through One.iu, just type the word “Collaboratory” and enter your CAS identification.
Homepage photo: Education graduate student Kelli Kaiser (l) helps Churchill Downs equine worker Oscar Navarro build competence in English at the Backside Learning Center, an IU Southeast partner on Collaboratory.