Returning to the Hot Team

Returning to the Hot Team

The Hot Team concept is one that I brought to Education Technology Services (ETS) at Penn State in 2005 as a way to get small groups of people together to do a quick assessment of an emerging technology, trend, or approach. The concept is based loosely around a methodology the design firm, Ideo uses to do very quick designs for products or services. In a typical situation, our implementation of the Hot Team looks like this … a team of around five people is given a set amount of time to collaboratively investigate, discuss, model, and create outcomes based on several predetermined questions. The goals of a Hot Team project are to encourage various individuals to come together on a related task and to create a set of deliverables that can be shared. Typically, a digital white paper is produced and shared openly to help inform decision making on the use of what was being investigated.

Digital White Paper
Digital White Paper

The Hot Team concept was born out of the need to quickly evaluate an emerging technology or approach and to assess its viability for use in an educational setting. In a general sense, we should also interested in creating a set of resources that we as educational and instructional technologists can share with our primary audiences — faculty, staff, students, peers, and project sponsors.

Each Hot Team can be assembled based on a recommendation from a member of the staff, from an organizational need, from outside interests, or for the purpose of informing ourselves. Typically, Hot Teams should not exceed six people. It is important to keep the group small and agile so that deliverables can be created within a short time frame. I always liked to see deliverables no later than one month after a charge is given.

All Hot Teams are made up with a set of people with diverse backgrounds — instructional designers, multimedia specialists, technologist, faculty, etc can be asked to participate together. Having multiple perspectives tends to yield stronger results.

Hot Teams can be formed in several ways. Staff can self organize around a technology or approach, they can also be formed by a project sponsor based on understood interest, team member skills, and other factors.

Typically, a Hot Team would be given three to four weeks to produce a short white paper. The final draft of the white paper should be made available within five weeks of project initiation. A presentation of the findings can be scheduled as soon as the paper is complete.

The white paper the Hot Team’s findings will be made available via as a digital publication at either the organization’s website, via Yammer, or at a specific project blog space. The purpose of the work is to provide organizational insight into the technology or approach being investigated and to create shareable outcomes for our primary audiences. The white paper should answer the following questions and should utilize the following section headers:

  • What is it?
  • Who’s doing it/Who’s using it?
  • How does it work?
  • Why is it significant?
  • What are the downsides?
  • Where is it going?
  • What are the implications for teaching and learning?

In addition, white papers should include at least one short scenario that provides a contextual example of the item being investigated. In lots of cases, papers and presentations aren’t enough to fully understand the technology. In that case, short videos, podcasts, or other multimedia objects can be created and embedded into the final digital publication.

This post is really just to capture the work we did in the past and as a potential road map to new thinking within DoIT at Stony Brook.

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