Celebrating an Innovation Birthday

We celebrated an important birthday last week–Wisc-Online turned 10 years old! I remember this birth very well. Thanks to a wonderful Federal grant, our College took the lead and collaborated with all Wisconsin technical colleges to launch what I believe to be one of the most outstanding instructional delivery innovations I’ve seen in my career–the development of learning objects.

What’s delivered on the Wisc-Online site is essentially an electronic library that houses over 2,500 learning objects that can readily be used by students and teachers all over the world. These tiny bits of content come to life through videos, 3-D applications, animations, simulations and interactive self-check exercises to enhance learning. Here is just one example of a learning object.

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Rebuilding Together

Earlier this week Alyce Dumke from our Foundation and I attended the annual report to the community by an organization called Rebuilding Together—Fox Valley.  Are you familiar with the mission of this great non-profit organization?  They focus on making adaptations to the homes of the elderly and disabled in our community, allowing these folks to remain living independently by ensuring that their homes are safe and comfortable.  So, they repair walkways, install walk-in showers, upgrade electrical panels, replace roofs and windows, repaint rooms, or whatever is needed.  Last year, they touched 100 homes throughout the Fox Valley.  To do this work, they rely on the support of individual and corporate donors/sponsors and the helping hands of many volunteers.

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Stuck Like Glue

No, this post isn’t about Sugarland’s latest hit, Stuck Like Glue, but the song did give me the idea for the title of this posting.  Last week I had a unique opportunity as a community leader to visit an after school program at one of Appleton’s elementary schools.  The program is run by the Boys and Girls Club and funded largely through a federal grant.  I was able to spend time with a group of children on an art project and got close and personal with a substance I haven’t worked with in a long, long time—Elmer’s glue!

I’m not sure we realize how many children these days are involved in “before school” and “after school” programs—day in and day out.  It strikes me how we, as a society, rely on our community schools to be there for our kids and provide care, food, oversight and opportunities to grow and learn at almost any hour of the day.  What struck me in spending just a little time at this local school, though, was also the wide diversity of students who were there that afternoon—the diversity of races, cultural backgrounds, abilities and learning disabilities, attention spans, and of course the wide range of enthusiasm and other emotions playing out in the group.  I also learned that more than 50% of the students in this school were eligible for free or reduced lunch—a key measure of family income levels and the extent of poverty in the community.

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