Monitoring Alliance Health

Indicators of a Healthy Alliance | Real-Time Analytics Dashboard

Tackling complex and interrelated challenges requires a systems-level approach that addresses multiple aspects of the challenge simultaneously and allows new solutions to emerge from collective efforts (Kania & Kramer, 2011; Preskill, Parkhurst, & Juster, 2015b). The EarthConnections Alliance uses a collective impact model supported by a national community of practice. The health and progress of the EarthConnections Alliance is evaluated through the lens of collective impact and via a real-time analytics dashboard. The collective impact model provides a flexible framework that can support pathway development specific to local needs and context, while aligning the pathways to a common vision of quality and measuring effectiveness through common metrics. The collective impact model involves maximizing the use of existing resources and alignment of organizations to achieve results.

Indicators of a Healthy Alliance

Kania and Kramer (2011) identify five conditions necessary to produce alignment and collective impact: common agenda, shared measurement, systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and a backbone support organization. These five conditions form the pillars of the EarthConnections Collective Impact Alliance. Indicators developed by Preskill, Parkhurst, & Juster (2015a) can be used to document the development and implementation of a collective impact initiative in relation to each of the five pillars.

Common Agenda

Generating collective impact requires that all stakeholders or participants have a common agenda (a shared vision) for the goals and results of the initiative. During the development of the EarthConnections Alliance, participants drafted and unanimously agreed upon a shared vision for the project.

Shared Measurement Systems

The system of shared metrics is used to monitor the growth, progress, and health of the participants in the EarthConnections Alliance. The metrics and structure of the Alliance facilitate opportunities to share data, analyze results, and adapt in response to that information. These metrics include indicators of the progress of pathway development, regional activities, and the EarthConnections community of practice.

Mutually Reinforcing Activities

The common agenda of the collective impact alliance is approached through a set of mutually reinforcing activities. Participant activities, while not identical or uniform, align with the shared vision of the alliance and strengthen the impact of the alliance as a whole.

Continuous Communication

Continuous communication is the platform for the development of a common agenda, shared measurement systems, and mutually reinforcing activities. Regular and robust communication supports the health of the alliance, allows for sharing of resources and expertise, and builds trust and cohesion within the collective impact alliance. The EarthConnections Alliance used virtual regular checkpoint reporting meetings, face-to-face events, and other communications to maintain conversations at and between all elements of the alliance.

Backbone Support

The backbone organization provides logistical and administrative expertise to support the participants and activities of the collective impact alliance. The infrastructure provided by the backbone organization allows alliance participants and participating programs to pursue activities that forward the common agenda. The backbone organization has a separate staff that has proficiency in managing networks, communications, technology, and evaluation. In this way the backbone maintains the structured process of the collective impact alliance.

Real-Time Analytics Dashboard

Real-time web analytic dashboards gather and generate visual displays of EarthCommunications communication data. The dashboard draws from website usage statistics to show key engagement metrics over time at both the national and regional level. These metrics include monthly email list messages, monthly counts of views of internal workspace pages, number of email list members, and monthly page views of public website pages.

More Planning Tools

Building Educational Pathways

The EarthConnections Alliance brings together scientists, educators, and community leaders the create locally contextualized pathways for students that emphasize connections between science and community. Regional Alliances draw upon the assets and expertise of Program Partners, the National Alliance, and local partners to build and enhance these pathways. Learn more about Building Educational Pathways

Tracking Pathway Development

Using structured practices for monitoring progress enables alliance participants to reinforce their shared vision and enhance their mutually reinforcing activities. The EarthConnections Alliance developed a Checkpoint Process to monitor regional pathway development to allow for routine reporting and communication on key areas of the development process. The Checkpoint Reporting process involves three steps: reporting, evaluation, and feedback. Learn more about Tracking Pathway Development

Evaluating Pathway Impact

EarthConnections is testing a system of shared metrics to monitor the progress of students along local educational pathways. The metrics and structure of the alliance facilitate opportunities to share data, analyze results, and adapt in response to that information. These metrics also include indicators of the progress of pathway development, regional activities, and the EarthConnections community of practice. Learn more about Evaluating Pathway Impact