Established in the Spring of 2002, SLATE was originally created as the Midwest Blackboard Users Group, (see the article: SLATE: In the Beginning...) and created from the concept that all institutions that are deploying and/or currently using technology and Web-based components to enhance their teaching and learning activities, have the same questions, the same challenges, and the need for the same solutions. By drawing together the expertise of the people involved in the entire academic experience and those designing, supporting, and using these applications, a broader, more accessible, and dynamic support system could be established. The members of SLATE are not about the institutions, but rather about the people that represent their institutions at meetings, events, conferences, and the community of practice, at-large. It is their input and involvement in the group that is the key to the groups success and fulfillment of the groups mission and goals.
The first group meeting was held at the University of Chicago in May of 2002. The original core of eight institutions included; The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Moraine Valley Community College, Joliet Junior College, Purdue University Calumet, DePaul University, Northern Illinois University, and Northeastern Illinois University. That number has grown to over 100 participating institutions across the country and has gained international recognition. Regardless of the changes and expansion the group has gone through, the SLATE mission, "To support learning and technology in education through communication, collaboration, and innovation while developing and sustaining a community of practice", has remained the same throughout the years.
Recognizing that any community needs to adapt and change in order to continue to meet the needs of its members, SLATE has evolved into a very inclusive academic and professional development organization consisting of faculty, support staff, designers, vendor partnerships, and even students, using various LMS platforms, and a variety of teaching tools and applications. It continues to reach across boundaries to forge new and strengthen existing partnerships. Having a strong focus on community and networking between its members is what sets SLATE apart from other groups. SLATE is constantly working to bring people together and give our members more opportunities to get involved.
SLATE has always looked at the big picture of learning and teaching with technology. What coalesced within its membership over the year's is thinking around supporting all students, all educators, and all learning. SLATE has steadily focused on the success of learning supported through technology, not if or when technology for learning will succeed. This optimism is a hallmark of the organization and one that its members, and participating institutions and organizations can be proud of.
If you would like additional information about SLATE, please contact Ken Sadowski, Executive Director.
ORIGINAL FOUNDING MEMBER INSTITUTIONS
"Give the world the best you have, and the best will come to you"!
A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE
By definition, a community of practice (CoP) is formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavor. Communities of practice bring together groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that the members learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally.
That was the model by which SLATE was created and still strives to attain today. Consider getting involved in SLATE, and encourage others across your institution to do so as well.