Kim Lynch headshot

Kim Lynch

Senior System Director of Educational Innovations



Welcome to Educational Innovations

One unit of Academic and Student Affairs, we are an energetic team that seeks to identify, seed, and support innovative technologies and talent to drive and enable the highest-quality teaching and learning experiences for students across Minnesota State.

We do this by:

  • supporting collaborations that enable and advance student success
  • supporting faculty in multiple ways to ensure that all students have high-quality learning experiences
  • coordinating enterprise opportunities and solutions that add value for Minnesota State colleges and universities 

Please take a look below at the multiple ways we help support innovation in the Minnesota State system. Some links require you to sign in with your and password.

The Faculty Development Committee is a standing committee of the Academic Affairs Council, providing input and guidance on faculty development needs and activities to system level leadership.  

Teaching and Learning Competency Courses 

All new unlimited full-time college faculty are required to complete the Philosophy of Community and Technical College Education course. This non-credit course was developed by system office Faculty Development staff with input from Minnesota State faculty members. Visit the teaching and learning competencies page for information, or to register for the course. 

New unlimited full-time college faculty may also need to complete up to three additional courses to meet the Teaching and Learning Competency requirements of the board's College Faculty Credentialing Procedure 3.32.1. These 2-credit courses can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit through Southwest Minnesota State University. Visit Southwest Minnesota State University for information, or to register for the courses.  

Faculty Development Resources 

A wealth of faculty development resources have been curated and made available to faculty and staff.  Educational Innovations manages a series of instructional resources related to the following topics:  pedagogy, new faculty, and teaching online.  More information on the topics below can be found on the faculty development resources page.

Faculty Development Programming 

Educational Innovations provides several systemwide professional and instructional development programming options available to Minnesota State faculty. Current opportunities are listed below. 

Statewide Equity Book Group 

This systemwide opportunity available to staff and faculty to read, discuss, share and learn with a book on a topic of interest and relevance for our work as educators.  More information can be found on the statewide equity book group site. 

Discipline Teaching Grants  

To increase the availability and quality of faculty and instructional development opportunities for all faculty across the system aligned with strategic priorities, Educational Innovations at the system office offers discipline teaching grants. Faculty members within discipline identify a topic, issue, question, concern, project, and/or problem that a multi-campus disciplinary group will address over an academic term or year.  More information can be found on the Discipline Teaching Grants site. 

ePortfolio Community of Practice 

With Minnesota State’s move to D2L’s cloud service in June 2018, D2L’s ePortfolio is available to all Minnesota State faculty (and staff) as a natural part of the learning environment. This tool allows students to present a collection of their work which can be used for a wide variety of reasons: to demonstrate learning, to put together a sample of work for an application, or to demonstrate achievements to a potential employer.  

This program allows faculty time and space to explore how to use the D2L ePortfolio tool to examine how an electronic folio can facilitate high impact teaching practices to support student learning and/or assessment.More information can be found on the ePortfolio Community of Practice site. 

Minnesota Online Quality Initiative (MOQI) 

The Minnesota Online Quality Initiative is a project sponsored by the Educational Innovations Unit of Minnesota State. Coordinated by personnel from Minnesota State institutions, MOQI provides faculty and staff from Minnesota State institutions information and resources to promote quality course design and delivery. MOQI also coordinates the Statewide Subscription to Quality Matters. 

The purpose of MOQI is to improve the quality of courses and learning experiences for students in online and blended courses through professional development and opportunities for collaboration and shared expertise. 

More information can be found on the Minnesota Online Quality Initiative (MOQI) page

Developers Network 

Campus faculty development leaders and anyone with an interest in systemwide faculty development are welcome to learn more and become active with the network. The Faculty Development Network is the place to find campus faculty development contacts, build connections with other faculty developers, share high-quality campus faculty development ideas and activities, and provide input around system needs to state and campus leaders.  More information can be found on the Faculty Developers Network page.

Library Services 

The consortium of libraries, MnPALS, facilitates reliable and cost-efficient access to library resources for the benefit of their user communities. The consortium supports an integrated and automated system that addresses the needs of all participating libraries. MnPALS provides the following services through coordination by Educational Innovations: 

  • Alma Library System by ExLibris - A unified library services platform that manages print, electronic, and digital materials in a single interface. As a completely cloud-based service, Alma provides libraries with a cost-effective library management solution. 
  • Islandora - An open source digital asset management system that preserves, manages, and showcases an institution’s unique digital material. 
  • Opendora – digital asset management system designed specifically for the searching, storing, and sharing of open educational resources. All Minnesota State institutions have access to Opendora for OER materials at no cost. 
  • Additional solutions - PALS will work with institutions to find library solutions to meet their specific needs. 

Minnesota State Info Hub 

The Minnesota State Info Hub provides support services seven days a week to current and prospective students seeking information via email, chat, and phone calls received from, Request Information and Ask Us links, and calls received from Minnesota State (800-456-8519). Success coaches are available to assist with questions, find answers, welcome prospective and new students, make referrals to appropriate campus resources. and provide services to campuses with evening and weekend support. 

Student Tutoring Services 

Minnesota State maintains a service agreement for online student tutoring services. Through this agreement, each credit-based student has access to 15 hours of online tutoring support per year. Students can access this tutoring service via their campus D2L Brightspace site. Helpful documentation is available here.

Campus Safety Reporting 

Minnesota State provides campuses with a solution that students can report incidents of sexual violence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to institutional investigators. More information can be found on the Campus Safety product page. 

State Authorization/SARA 

Minnesota State is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Under Federal Law, the state remains responsible for responding to complaints about institutions within state that offer distance education to students residing outside of Minnesota. Therefore, if you are a distance education student and you have a complaint against a Minnesota State school, then you may reach out to our office to file an official complaint against the school. Minnesota State Institutions can find more information about how to comply with federal state authorization requirements.  More information can be found on the State Authorization/SARA page.  

Accessibility and Captioning 

Minnesota State is committed to accommodating the variety of needs and ability of our students.  Listed below are two initiatives to support work in accessibility and captioning, specifically. 

Captioning Seed Funding Program 

A system-wide project to explore options for the provision of transcription and captioning services to Minnesota State institutions for teaching and instructional purposes. More information can be found on the captioning seed funding page. 

Accessibility Committee (Ad hoc) 

Formed under the ASA Technology Council, this committee is charged to develop sustainable campus practices for addressing the creation and adoption of accessible institutional materials. Recommend policies, procedures, or operating instructions that could be adopted by Minnesota State regarding the creation and adoption of accessible materials. More information can be found on the accessibility committee topic. 

Online Strategy Workgroup  

Advancing Online Education in Minnesota State is a report was prepared by the Online Strategy workgroup, an ad hoc workgroup chartered by Minnesota State’s Leadership Council. The ad hoc workgroup convened from January 2017 through April 2018 and was comprised of appointees from each of Minnesota State’s collective bargaining unions and student organizations.  

The report included a total of forty-two (42) action steps aligned with fifteen (15) distinct strategies that support four broad goals to (1) collaborate across institutions in ways that increase (2) access to and the (3) quality of online opportunities that remain (4) affordable for students compared to other higher education providers.  

The workgroup prioritized nine (9) action steps that Minnesota State should act on immediately and recommended implemented teams form during the 2018-2019 academic year to work on how to implement each of the nine prioritized action steps. 

More information can be found on the Online Strategy project site.   

Open Education Resources 

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation: 

Minnesota State promotes textbook affordability for students at Minnesota State colleges and universities by supporting and facilitating the adoption of open, low-cost, high-quality materials. We strive to do through faculty development, adequate resources, and grants. 

More information can be found on the Minnesota State OER project site. 

OER Highlights 

Z-Degree Project (Zero Textbook Cost Degree)


The State of Minnesota 91st Legislature passed Senate File 2415 in the spring 2019 session. This bill includes the following directive for the Minnesota State colleges and universities system:

Three additional colleges must offer the opportunity to earn a Z-Degree by the academic year 2020-2021. A college's course offerings for its Z-Degree program must include at least two distinct courses in each transfer curriculum goal area and at least enough credits in each transfer curriculum goal area to complete the transfer curriculum package. (SF24​15)

The legislation will fund this mandate through a one-time appropriation of $500,000 over the next biennium. ​

Call for Campus Participation

​The Minnesota State system office invites campuses within the system to submit an interest application as the first step to participation in the Minnesota State Z-Degree Project. The system office will select participating campuses from the pool of applicants based upon responses provided in the following readiness categories:

  • Readiness of Campus Personnel
  • Structural Readiness
  • Cultural Readiness
  • Current Open/Zero-Cost Textbook Inventory
  • Proposed Z-Degree and Course Sequence ​


OER Cost Savings 

Each year Minnesota State conducts a survey to gather data related to the cost-saving effects of open educational resources. This data is then shared in aggregate with partners at the University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Network. The cost-saving goal for academic year 2018 was set at $1,000,000. Academic Year 2017 savings was $751,120    


Digital asset management system designed specifically for the searching, storing, and sharing of open educational resources. All Minnesota State institutions have access to Opendora for OER materials at no cost. 

Faculty and Professional Development 

Several faculty and professional development programming opportunities are available to Minnesota State. These programming opportunities have the following goals. 

  1. Introduce and expand awareness to open licensing, open textbooks, and open educational resources. 
  2. Encourage and support faculty to identify, use and/or author high-quality free or low-cost content for students. 
  3. Encourage and support faculty who seek to redesign courses or programs around free or low-cost content for students. 
  4. Build partnerships among faculty, students, librarians, and others committed to reducing textbook costs for students. 

More information about the program below can be found on the Minnesota State OER project site. 

  • OTN webinars and textbook reviews 
  • OER Learning Circle Cohort  
  • OER Learning Circle Leaders  
  • Koffee with Karen  
  • Librarian’s OER Workshop Day  
  • Creative Commons Certification 
  • Statewide OER Discipline Conference  

Innovation Funding (Shark Tank Open)  

The next Innovation Funding round will open in November of 2019. For more information, visit the Innovation Funding page.

Since 2016, Minnesota State colleges and universities have participated in an annual Shark Tank Open event where faculty, staff, and students go before expert panels to pitch their innovations and compete for funding to implement their ideas - and it keeps getting bigger and better each year! View the Shark Tank Open stories page.

Kim Lynch, Ph.D.
Senior System Director for Educational Innovations

Tim Anderson, Ed.D, MBA
System Director for Student Success and Technologies

Scott Wojtanowski, Ph.D.
System Director for Educational Technology and Development

Catherine Ford
Program Director for Educational Development

Lesley Blicker
Director of LMS Learning and Next Generation Technologies

Michael Olesen
Project Manager

Stephen Kelly
Open Education and Innovation Program Coordinator

Megan Babel
Communications Coordinator

LaShawnda Ford
Administrative Coordinator