The Reflection of Action: RECODE Collaborate, Year 1
In July 2015, RECODE Collaborate kickstarted a grassroots conversation about the future of Canadian higher education.
Fifteen campuses from British Columbia to Newfoundland & Labrador participated in RECODE Collaborate’s first year through
roundtable discussions. Student facilitators were joined by their classmates, faculty, and staff to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their campuses and the higher education system as a whole. From a diversity of backgrounds, participants worked together to define problems and brainstorm solutions.
One campus, for instance, emphasized the problem of ”
feeling removed from learning”, proposing life coaching as a university service and student autonomy in assessment as potential solutions.
To connect these conversations to action, the RECODE Collaborate team launched
HackED Week. HackED Week asked multidisciplinary teams to prototype a potentially transformational idea on their campuses. The first HackED Week ideas included speed-connecting between professors and students and convening faculty to create interdisciplinary courses.
Finally, we began developing an online platform to showcase these campus conversations. The HackED (“hack education”) platform is designed to facilitate sharing and collaboration across Canada, giving students and educators a powerful shared space for change. HackED will enable students and educators to discuss the problems and ideas they unearth at roundtables with a national community of practice. Our hope is that this digital discourse will allow distributed changemakers both within and between Canada’s campuses to recognize common problems (and to invent parallel solutions). Look out for the platform launch this fall! It was a busy year for RECODE Collaborate, so what did we learn?
RECODE Collaborate isn’t an organization – it’s part of a movement. Many of the nation’s roundtables happened because students reached out to us, not the other way around. That so many volunteered (including most of the national team) to make this happen is telling: Canadian students and educators are passionate about higher education. Our first year taught us – students ourselves – how we might improve our support of campus champions, but the most important lesson is that this movement has traction.
Prototyping isn’t easy. HackED Week has real power in the permission it gives collaborating students and educators to work together on improving their campus communities. What we now know is that offering this permission is easier said than done. We challenged our network to imagine innovations in their college or university communities that could unlock new potential for their schools: a challenge that we underestimated. This year, we’ll do better to provide creative guidance and operational support to HackED teams in designing and prototyping these innovations with workshops and guides to support the process.
Systemic challenges require systemic solutions. One of the biggest achievements of RECODE Collaborate has been the diversity of voices we’ve heard from at our roundtables: diverse communities surface diverse issues. We recognize that the challenges that frustrate and confound Canada’s students and educators are systemic in nature. We need to continue to channel this diversity, as truly systemic innovations can only come from groups as diverse as the system itself.
We have renewed passion for our refined purpose:
to accelerate grassroots, progressive innovation in higher education by empowering a network of students and educators to co-creatively define, understand, and solve challenges in our education system and on our campuses.
We will build on our achievements (and mistakes) from 2015-2016 with this vision in mind through three program areas:
Online and off, RECODE Collaborate will seek out students and educators passionate about education innovation and connect them to our national network. Roundtables and the HackED platform will form the foundation of these programs.
Through guides and a national community of practice, RECODE Collaborate will build the innovation literacy and capacity of our national network. We will enable the national network to share ideas, resources, and content (including our own guides) and continue to organize sessions and webinars on leading change.
Building on the development of the HackED Platform and HackED Week, RECODE Collaborate’s national network of innovators will develop and execute their ideas in concrete form. These pilot projects will aid our own learning as a national network while enabling students and educators to learn through experience what it means to be systemic change agents on their campuses.
We are ever-inspired by the conviction we’ve seen from students, faculty, and staff on campuses across the country. These programs aim to serve you: to help you create the change you want to see in your school or community.
If you have any ideas or questions, if you want to get involved, or if you just want to say “hi”, don’t hesitate to reach out to RECODE Collaborate’s national team by emailing
Tom, Ryan, Ara, Karli, Will & Sara (the RECODE Collaborate team)
P.S.: We’re currently seeking a communications leader to join our national network! See our website for more information (and to apply). If you’re interested in joining the team in a different capacity or you want to see RECODE Collaborate on your campus, don’t hesitate to reach out.