Working with LU
|Introductions For New Chapters|
|This article is part of a sequence of four articles designed for startups running a Splash or similar program. We encourage you to read them all!|
Learning Unlimited is a nonprofit organization founded by former leaders of Splash programs that is dedicated to supporting Splashes (and similar programs) and spreading them to new universities. If you are interested in launching a program like Splash, we are interested in helping you to do so. This is how.
When you first consider running a Splash, LU will provide an experienced voice to discuss your plans and to help guide your next steps. As you move forwards in the process, we'll give you two mentors who can help discuss your work with you and point out anything you might be missing. We can help you develop a timeline and budget, help you present your proposal to the university administration, and help you navigate numerous logistical hurdles.
We believe that effective communication is an essential part of making this process successful. For example, we've found that in-person conversations are much more effective than phone or e-mail, so if you are interested we may travel (or have someone close to you come by) to meet your team and develop a timeline, budget, and IT plan with you. Your mentors will also be happy to be on any internal e-mail lists that you keep; that will help keep them up-to-date without requiring you to take time out of your schedule to update them or ask questions, and they may notice elements you're missing in your plans.
Keep in mind that our program provides mentoring: your program, its decisions, and its implementation are all up to you. That means that it's yours to run, but the legwork to do so is also up to you and your team.
Learning Unlimited's volunteers maintain open-source software that provides a database and backend for a program's website. This software manages teacher registration, puts together a class catalog (both online and for print), allows you to assign classes to rooms and times (and manage classroom conflicts, teacher conflicts, and audio/visual requirements), runs student registration, prints individualized schedules for teachers and students, and much more. LU can set the software up on our own servers for you (for example, take a look at splashchicago.learningu.org or www.stanfordesp.org), or you can set it up on your servers (although the software is quirky and this may require substantial work). If you don't have someone who can do your graphic design, we also can get you started with a logo and a website theme that goes with it (see, for example, dukesplash.learningu.org).
Once the website is set up, we have written and video guides available on how to use it, and your mentors will be happy to take you through some of its operations from a user's perspective so that you can get a handle on managing your program.
Because our webmins are all volunteers, we unfortunately cannot always provide immediate replies to questions or problems with the website. If you have volunteers with programming experience that would be interested in learning to work on the website (and perhaps in contributing their own code to the project), we would be happy to train them in the website architecture so that they can become more involved with the project and provide you with faster responses to your IT needs.
Through our network of Splash alumni and contacts at many universities, we can help you find prospective leaders and teachers. We are in the process of building a database of alumni and we can also use the many college students now involved in running Splashes to help find contacts at your university. Additionally, LU can send your mentors and a few leaders from other chapters to your Splash to provide assistance on the big day.
LU is constructing a library of general-use materials. We can provide you with publicity materials, teacher training resources, or other documents that we have either developed or which have been used at other Splash programs. In this way, you don't need to reinvent the wheel on everything you produce.
Once you have run a Splash and demonstrated the ability to continue running programs, the Learning Unlimited Board of Directors may extend an invitation to you to become a member of LU. If the offer is extended and you accept it, then you gain continual access to LU's resources and a vote on LU's Chapter Board which elects members of the Board of Directors and guides our work. In exchange, we hope that you and your program will contribute to LU's growth and success of mission.