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Center Ideas: Prepared to Weather Any Storm: A KyOLXC Story

People experience problems daily. However, when problems are perceived as a “fire”, they can trigger a person’s fight or flight instincts…unless that person has received training to help them assess and react to the problem in a productive way. That’s what the Region 5 Comprehensive Center (R5CC) has been working toward with the Kentucky Networked Improvement Community (NIC) in collaboration with Kentucky Education Television (KET) and the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). This past meeting, I saw it in action. 

Three woman sit along a conference room table having a discussion
A diverse group of people sit around a long table having a collaborative discussion

On an overcast and rainy morning, 22 teachers and leaders from the Kentucky Online Learning Collaborative (KyOLXC) joined together for a mission. A mission to achieve change, overcome challenges, and develop successful learning opportunities for Kentucky’s virtual students. 

The day was grounded in continuous improvement. Designed to develop participants’ individual and collective knowledge, it was an opportunity for participants to practice the skills developed over the past year and a half in the Kentucky NIC. They took on the mission to identify and study daily problems, develop and test ways of solving those problems, and scale effective solutions. 

The R5CC model of a NIC, which is what we utilized in Kentucky, encompasses 8 steps that answer three questions.

01.

What problem are we trying to solve?

02.

What changes might we introduce and why?

03.

How will we know that a change is an improvement?

This past meeting, teams, representing 12 counties, focused on an individual problem experienced locally, related to one of Kentucky’s six Digital Learning Guidelines: Content, Digital Readiness, Leadership and Governance, Assessment System, Continuous Improvement, and Digital Pedagogy. Once a problem had been identified, teams integrated everything they’d developed since the summer into a logic model in preparation to start implementing strategies to address the chosen problems to achieve the desired outcomes. This process gave them the confidence and the tools needed to start implementing their strategies in Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles in 2024. 

What makes Kentucky’s NIC unique is that it is comprised of multiple NICs—each one focused on their own local problem under the umbrella of the state-level problem. This means that as one local NIC team resolves a problem, the lessons learned, materials developed, and resources gathered can be shared with the state-level NIC to avoid two teams working through the same issue. Therefore, each time a problem is addressed locally, the entire KyOLXC’s capacity to handle that challenge increases.