An Ed Tech Community of Practice Case Study

Stumbling Forward Together


  • Paul Ratte Northwestern Health Sciences University
  • Dung Mao Northwestern Health Sciences University


community of practice, education technology


Come hear a grassroots adventure story about creating an Educational Technology Community of Practice. It has a zany cast of characters including a nurturer, a thinker, a scientist, a bunch of early adopters, and even a laggard. The setting is a small health sciences university with a diverse student body and a wide range of learning opportunities. Class sizes range from 8−108 and learning happens through face-to-face, hybrid, and exclusively online content. With the guidance of a wise elder, our protagonists embark on a journey to tame the technology beast. They discover the beast is actually a shape-shifter who somehow remains beyond the reach of the individual travelers. The elder knows the solution exists within our heroes and is only accessible through passion, shared interests, and a willingness to fail. The initial quest of technology implementation is transformed into a personal reflection on the quality of teaching. It is not about serving technology to their students, rather, about how technology serves their educational goals. Once our heroes discover their journey is shared by many, they learn to work together, share their passion, and embrace their failures. The beast is harnessed. Some of the ongoing themes shared in this story include: trust, wasted time, connection, obsolescence, honesty, codependency, brainstorming, troubleshooting, existentialism, camaraderie, and teaching philosophy.

Author Biographies

Paul Ratte, Northwestern Health Sciences University

Dr. Paul Ratte is a faculty at Northwestern Health Sciences University. 

Dung Mao, Northwestern Health Sciences University

Dr. Dung Mao is an instructional Designer at Northwestern Health Sciences University.