Archive for September, 2008
Download PDF: Collaboration, Alignment and Leadership
This essay compares and contrasts—from my personal perspective—four projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that have depended critically upon medium- to large-scale collaboration. This characteristic distinguishes them from most NSF-funded projects, as typified by the Program Officer for one of the four: “The NSDL program is an unusual program for NSF in that its projects are engaged in building an enterprise much larger than the object of any one grant. Indeed, the success of the program rests squarely on the extent to which the many projects can embrace this collective sense of identity and mission.” [Zia 2001] Though similarly reliant on collaboration, the four projects had significantly different outcomes, and the purpose of comparison is to consider why, with particular emphasis on matters of leadership.
Download PDF: Reflections on NSDL
The picture below is one that I’ve used in virtually every essay or presentation I’ve given about NSDL. As you can see, this essay is no exception.
This picture captures three things about our initial vision of NSDL – our aspirations, truly astronomical in scope, and our two goals – making a substantive improvement in the quality of learning in the STEM disciplines and a substantive difference in the extent to which the very best learning reaches all students. The two goals together are what give the vision its character – there are many pockets of very high quality STEM learning and the reach of STEM learning is huge but sadly the reach of the very best STEM learning has been too limited.
Alternative views of the NSDL
This essay is a personal reflection on how early decisions shaped the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and how the program has evolved over the past decade. It draws heavily on observations from the planning studies in 1997 and 1998, and my experience as principal investigator of the Cornell University’s part of the Core Integration team until 2005. The thoughts expressed here are purely my own.
The underlying theme of this essay is that the NSDL program has two missions: implementation and innovation. Confusion between these two missions goes back to the beginning of the program. The original concept was to implement a digital library for science education. But the NSF’s principal goal is to support research and the NSDL program also gives grants for innovation in digital libraries and science education.
The collaborative process of building the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) has provided many experiences for members of the NSDL community. The goal of this project (see About) is to capture “reflections” on these experiences by encouraging authors to “tell the story” of how they think NSDL was formed, grew and is continuing to grow.
Please read the essays by NSDL participants, comment on them and participate!
Susan, Dave, Flora and Brandon