Innovate to Educate Entry

Minnesota State

Randy LaFoy, GPS LifePlan Coordinator

What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?

Small team revamped a popular, 10-year old state-wide goliath of a resource into a slimmer, modern, user and device-friendly, mobile and holistic product. The GPS LifePlan is currently (until 12/31) an online aggregation of links to information on Career, Education, Finance, Leadership and Personal. GPS is primarily used in First Year Class Seminars, and by others to help students set goals, plan for success and stay in school. It has thousands of users every semester. As the ‘administrators,’
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What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?

The biggest challenge was to get outside of our ‘box’ and change how we thought of GPS. So, instead of being just an award winning aggregation site, we needed to move to something that was bigger and more useful. Getting there, we had to:
- Cull a multi-year list of wish-list features into something that was buildable
- Staying in a bare-bones budget
- Getting online support
- Melding budgets for future needs
- Keeping the product free for users
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What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:

Any online resource has to be mobile, and ADA friendly
A resource has to be designed so it becomes an Individual Learning Plan and is portable
There has to be administrative functionality so teachers and administrators can easily see/track individual work. And there has to be simple and complex enough to obtain a buy-in from the teachers on the ground, in the trenches

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