Putting Educational Innovations into Practice.

From Passive Attendee to Active Participant: My experience at OLC-MERLOT TAACCCT@INNOVATE2016

Building community is one of the themes of OLC MERLOT's TAACCCT@Innovate.  Hosted by CSU MERLOT's SkillsCommons, the TAACCCT@Innovate strand of the OLC Conference held in April of last year was as inspiring and diverse as the host city of New Orleans. There was a plethora of sessions from which to choose: workshops, roundtable discussions, and educational sessions. The event had some new experiences such as Lightening Talks and the PlugIn Lounge. My first conference about online learning was full of inspirational concepts with like-minded colleagues and an optimistic view about the future of education and workforce development.  There were many enticing options offered overall, and one place I choose to spend my time was with the SlkillsCommons team building community.

During the TAACCCT@Innovate2016, CSU MERLOT SkillsCommons offered a strand specifically for U.S. DOL funded TAACCCT grantees. This meeting focused on leveraging and sustaining TAACCCT grant initiatives through pedagogical and partnership strategies.  While attending the TAACCCT strand at Innovate 2016, I learned about a site hosted by CSU called MERLOT Voices, a virtual community that allows its member to share knowledge about universal challenges inherent in workforce education and connect with others form across all disciplines and interests.  It was a place for these newly forming IMPACTcommunities to gather.

Working and sharing with fellow TAACCCT colleagues at Innovate 2016 transformed my involvement at the conference from a passive attendee to an active participant.  During that time together we formed the StoryTelling Network IMPACTcommunity whose focus was to build a framework for grantees to share their stories in a structured and impactful way.  As a community, we believe that stories can help problem solve, provide guidance, build confidence, and share wisdom.  Since the April 2016, the community has created tools and a forum in which grantees and others can effectively tell their stories of successes and challenges overcome allowing institutions of higher education, employers, and to learn from the many efforts.

IMPACTcommunities now have their own home on SkillsCommons  The StoryTelling Network IMPACTcommunity will convene face to face once again at Innovate 2017 to not only share the collaborative work we have completed but to also take the next steps. We will show others how to use the practical and innovative ideas regarding telling stories.  Attendees will grow to know, as we have, that storytelling does not replace reporting but instead compliments it.  Participants will walk the path that led our community to the understanding that effective stories can be based on formal reporting and can assist in sustaining grant activities and increasing student retention.  It is for that reason that we support the storytelling effort. 

Learn more about our storytelling work at


Helene Mancuso 

Project Manager

Luzerne Community College

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