Thursday, April 30, 2009

ComETS: A vibrant ed tech community at Wisconsin

With the launch of their new site this week, I wanted to share a very cool thing about UW.

The instructional technology community here at UW-Madison is comprised of staff from both our central IT division and local departments, schools, and colleges -- a large and dispersed group of talented people.

One of the most significant challenges over the years has been to coordinate and collaborate with each other. In the past 5 years, we have made great strides in increasing the amount of interaction and collegiality between central and local instructional technology staff. This has occurred primarily through a grass-roots organization we created called ComETS (Community of Educational Technology Support.

ComETS is made up of instructional technologists, system administrators, IT managers, librarians, and some faculty. We host events such as brown bags, presentations, discussions, and webinars. Special interest groups with specific interests in open source, clickers, sims/games, and media production shops have emerged.

Most of all, I have appreciated how the success of ComETS has laid the groundwork for successful collaborations between central and local instructional technology staff. Together we have been able to jointly tackle challenges such as IT strategic planning and emergency planning for our course management system. We have been able to make more informed decisions with input from diverse pockets of campus.

Our colleagues at Iowa State have recently started their own ComETS organization, and we wish them the best of success.

Do others have examples of such communities on their campus?

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