An Invitational Workshop Exploring Effective Networks and the Role of Network Leaders

Thursday, June 22, 2017

This is an invitation-only Workshop supported with funding from the National Science Foundation. For more information contact Kacy Redd at


Start time: June 22, 2017 at 8:30 am CST

End time: June 22, 2017 at 4:30 pm CST

Location: Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans, LA

NSEC is hosting an invitation-only workshop for network leaders. There are some useful and accessible resources that provide network leaders with practical guidance on building and sustaining networks, such as Plastrik et al.'s (2004) 'Connecting to Change the World', Network Impact's Network Health Scorecard and Framework for Re-AMP, and Kezar and Gehrke's (2016) Communities of Transformation . Additionally, there is a growing cohort of network leaders who are building networks that span institutions of higher education or organizations and who have an untapped source of practitioner knowledge. This workshop aims to bring these two communities and bodies of knowledge together to create a Guide for Network Leaders.

Goals of the NSEC-sponsored workshop are:

  • to create a Guide for Network Leaders
  • to better understand where targeted networks are situated and ways to improve synergies among them
  • to get initial feedback on the design and content of a resource platform for network leaders from nascent and established networks that support STEM education transformation.

What will you do at the workshop?

The workshop training will be dynamic, practice-oriented and highly interactive. Drawing on latest research and theory, activities will be geared towards understanding the structure of effective networks and the roles of network leaders (netweavers).

The agenda for the workshop will provide attendees with opportunities to share their own experiences and skills with the whole group and in smaller breakout sessions. There will be a variety of activities that will allow participants to identify and explore the criteria for facilitating and maintaining effective networks.

Benefits to Network Leaders

By the end of the workshop, network leaders will be able to:

  • Better understand the current research and theory around creating and sustaining effective networks
  • Better understand their own networks, how they operate and how they are structured, addressing such questions as:
  • Is my network looking to connect, align, or produce?
  • What are the membership rules for my network? Who is eligible to become a member, what are the membership requirements, and how many members will there be? How do other network leaders onboard, facilitate governance, and determine membership benefits?
  • Better understand the role of a network leader
  • Take away a compilation of best practices that help address such questions as
  • Partake in the creation of a useful platform to share successful solutions
  • Meet other practitioners working in STEM networks


7:30-8:30 am - Breakfast

8:30-9:00 am - Welcome

9:00-10:00 am - Effective Networks I - Presentation of research on effective networks and Interactive activities about networks and netweaving skills

10:00-10:20 am - Break

10:20- 11:00 am - Effective Networks II (continued)

11:00-11:20 am - Network Leaders Guide/Framework - Presentation on the elements of Guide/Framework and Breakout groups

11:30-12:15 pm - Lunch

12:20-1:00 pm - Application of Framework to Netweaving I - Roundtables on 4 elements of the Guide/Framework.

  • Goals / Purpose/ Value of the Network
    • How do you support creation of a shared network story, or common identity? How do you assess how committed the members are to this shared story or identity?
    • How do you balance institutional autonomy and common mission/goals across institutions? How do you accommodate differences between members' institutional contexts, either through cultivating an understanding of different contexts and/or by coordinating across difference?
    • How do you recognize and handle shifting of priorities as network matures?
    • How do we align purpose and mission with many different sectors and partners?
  • Organization of the Network
    • How do you decide who is and is not a member?
    • How do you share governance with members? How do you identify and implement structures to allow for/enhance participatory governance? How do you increase ownership of the network activities?
    • How do you promote new leadership from within the network and allow the influence of the project to expand without someone from the core, original, leadership to have to run it?
    • Do you have a succession plan? How was it developed?
  • Operation of the Network
    • What are the core practices of network leaders that support learning within the network amongst the members and about the network?
    • How do you socialize new institutional and individual members to an established and well-connected group? How do you handle onboarding?
    • How do you engage members with no fiscal incentive and increase volunteer contributions?
    • What have been some of the most valuable member benefits?
    • What activities have the largest return on investment (in terms of strengthening the network)?
  • Evaluation/Assessment of the Network
    • What are the core practices of netweavers that enable the network and its members to enact change within its system? How does this increased capacity to enact change translate into transformation of the system at local, regional, or national scale (i.e what is the impact of the network)?
    • How are we measuring impact within a complicated causal change chain? How might we improve these metrics?
    • What are the warning signs for losing engagement by members?
    • How do you measure intensity of member connections? (level of exchange, dependency, knowledge). How do you measure whether you are connecting members with each other in ways that meet their needs? (customized weaving)

1:00-1:15 pm - Break

1:15-2:00 pm - Application of Framework to Netweaving II

2:00-2:15 pm - Break

2:15-2:30 pm - Report out

2:30-3:00 pm - Integration into Guide/Framework

3:00-3:15 pm - Reflection on Guide/Framework - Small group discussion around what is missing, how to prioritize, contribute ideas to particular elements of the Network Leaders Guide/Framework

3:15-3:30 pm - Break

3:30-4:00 pm - Next Steps

4:20-4:30 pm - Closing remarks