[Webinar Recap] A Collaborative Approach to Program Design

[Webinar Recap] A Collaborative Approach to Program Design

Emily Siegel

Associate Director, Office of Research & Strategic Initiatives, Campus Labs

What are the key benefits of collaboration? What types of partnerships do you determine to establish or continue? How does collaboration impact the planning process? These three questions and more were answered by our most recent webinar A Collaborative Approach to Program Design. The presentation concept and content originated from our campus partner, Joy. Vergara, Director of Campus Programs at The University of Illinois Chicago. Unfortunately, Joy was unable to present but wanted to ensure that the presentation she had developed was shared with the Learn Forward community. Due to her collaborative work with Tyler McClain on the presentation, Joy determined that he should present the webinar on her behalf.

Tyler serves as the Assistant Director of Educational Programming and Marketing. He joined the OrgSync team in May 2015 in the Office of Research and Strategic Initiatives. He holds his MS degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in College Student Personnel from The University of Rhode Island (URI). During his graduate research assistantship in the Center for Student Leadership Development at URI, Tyler’s work focused on leadership and organizational development. He has extensive experience with leadership course design and instruction, advising of student government and organizations, and career readiness development. Tyler came to OrgSync from Fairfield University where he served as the Associate Director for Leadership and Professional Development.

Key Benefits

It is important to ensure that all individuals involved in the design of the program have an established sense of accountability. This is most often developed through clearly define expectations of the tasks, roles, and responsibilities that each member will contribute. Ensuring that each collaborating member of the team or group knows their value and what it means to the success of this program is key, remember we often forget to show others how much we value their contributions. Tyler wrapped up key benefits by sharing that Campus communities are comprised of various smaller networks and through collaboration with others these smaller networks help create a greater perception and awareness of the program.


Collaboration can impact program design in various ways. It reduces duplicate efforts, allows for utilization of shared resources, alignment of processes, creates a seamless student experience, and can resolve the unknown. Each of these impact areas is only possible through the efforts of collaboration, it takes a team of shared knowledge and resources for these to be realized.

Types of Partnerships

Tyler spoke about his business approach to the types of partnerships that exist. You have silent partners and engaged partners. Silent partners are primarily those who have not chosen to assume any level of responsibility for the design of the program, they are purely supporting the program financially. Engaged partners are those who have some level of responsibility for the design of the program, levels of engagement can vary so ensure that you know how engaged each member of your team should be. Tyler also spoke about the various roles that members of team can assume during the collaboration process; task roles, maintenance roles, and blocking roles.

Team dynamics play a significant role in the collaboration process, knowing how to facilitate these different types of roles is critical.

Partnership Toolkit

Tyler explained the value of completing these three types of evaluations; current, future, and post partnerships. How often do we assess our current partnerships, is it enough to ensure that they are still relevant and supporting program goals. When evaluating our current partnerships we need to look at three areas.

  • Who are you currently partnering with?
  • Why do you want to partner?
  • Why they should partner with you?

Tyler continued by explaining that by evaluating your current partnerships you can determine if there are new partnerships that can be established to support other programs. After identifying possible new partnerships, you should evaluate the benefits, impact, and type of partnership that would be established to determine if it is a viable option. Lastly, after executing the program all partnerships should go through some type of evaluation process where all members have the opportunity to share feedback. This is helpful in identifying areas of challenge and growth for not only this partnership but any that you attempt to establish in the future. This type of reflective evaluation can help you to continually refine your approach for collaboration with others.

In closing, Tyler referenced a book that he has utilized to better understand team dynamics and improve his ability to facilitate the collaboration process.

Group Dynamics for Teams 3rd. Edition by Daniel Levi

Read eBooks and watch recorded webinars

Watch: A Collaborative Approach to Program Design

Emily Siegel

Associate Director, Office of Research & Strategic Initiatives, Campus Labs

Dallas, TX