Posted on Monday, December 15, 2014

What if your Virginia Community College had a unique way of solving a problem – or you were looking for approaches to a particular challenge?

Where would you go to find out what your colleagues across the system are doing?

When the Innovation & Technology Task Force was convened a couple of years ago, the “number one issue that kept coming up, was that no one knew what each other was working on,” says Dr. Joy Hatch.

What they created was something to “link people, technology and information.”

ICE was born – the Innovation Community Exchange – and its creators at New River Community College have made it available throughout the community college system and beyond as an “exchange marketplace” for ideas.

The site is live at, and all faculty and staff throughout Virginia’s 23 community colleges have access to it. Some information is available publicly – but to respond to discussion boards, post new ideas or collaborate, employees must sign in.

“New River, for instance, has tons of research on 3D printers,” said Jack Lewis recently when presenting the ICE project to board members at the VCCS Annual Meeting. “Other colleges shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel to find out what we’ve discovered about this technology.”

“The word is starting to get out,” says Amy Hall, who is coordinating the project at New River Community College. There are 30-40 ideas and projects listed so far, everything from the information on 3D printers to strategies for online orientations at Reynolds and techniques for engaging students to learn in innovative ways at Rappahannock Community College. “Everything from a hair-brained notion to a fully developed project ready for sharing with other colleges,” she notes.  Even failed projects don’t get pulled – that information is useful, too.

But to be useful, the system must be used. Hall has been demonstrating the system at peer group meetings across the state, innovation conferences, and the recent VCCS Annual Meeting. A New River faculty member, Brian Clark, assistant professor in science and health technologies, created a video highlighting ICE (see video clip, above).'

Susan Hayden

Susan Hayden worked for Virginia's Community Colleges for 25 years in the Institutional Advancement office before retiring in December 2015. She currently is on special assignment regarding the 50th anniversary of Virginia's Community Colleges.

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