Project Aggregator

We are designing a Project Aggregator to make it easier to see and locate projects in CoolHub. One of the hardest things to do right now is to see all the projects that are available. The only view that is dynamic is in My Projects, found by clicking the Go To Projects button and viewing "available" projects.

A better way to view and search projects is being developed. A prototype may be found at

This view is not yet dynamic and only shows 4 projects (because they have to be added manually). But we are moving toward making it dynamic and searchable. If you are interested in seeing all the "biology" projects, or "stage 3" projects, or "open" projects, or seeing when a project was launched and who the owner is, that will all be possible. If there are other features you would like, please leave your comments here or on the link above.

Chineses Ministry of Education Visits IMSA

Eighty-one delegates from the Chinese Ministry of Education visited IMSA today, July 20. Jim, Carl and senior Mitch Bieniek presented information about CoolHub, using several projects (United Nations of Youth, IBio and Global Science Seminars) to showcase how CoolHub is being used for transformation of STEM teaching and learning. The presentation was translated into Mandarin by Li Jing, a member of the International Sustainable Energy Project and assistant principal at RDFZ high school in Beijing.   Newspaper Article...


Chinese Ministry of Education

Who's Going to be 1,000?




IMSA student Maggie Daly is CoolHub member 1,000!

Expect Occasional Resets Today

under constructionWe are having to perform some site maintenance today, which involves restarting CoolHub. If you are editing information during a shutdown, you may lose unsaved work. We'll try to keep the restarts to a minimum, but it's a good idea to save your work frequently as you edit.

Updated Help Topics

We went through the Help Topics today to add a few new guidelines and make sure the information is current. These are step-by-step guides that are completely text-based. Not everyone prefers to read, so there are also video guides (which we will review next).

A tip for using the Help Topics is to open a second tab and go to, you can be logged in to CoolHub in two windows or tabs running at the same time. Toggle between the two views to complete the actions described in Help. Or, print out the instructions using the print icon in the upper right portion of the Help Topic.

Help and Tools now on the Control Bar

To make it easier to find Help and the CoolHub Toolkit, we've moved them to the top Control Bar. This way, Help and Tools now appear on every page in CoolHub. You no longer have to search for just-in-time help!

coolhub control bar features Help and ToolKit

Welcome TalentSparks! Teachers

talentsparksYesterday IBIO launched a new project on CoolHub for teachers enrolled in their TalentSparks! program. They are using the project as a central place for their document library, online discussions and journaling. You can visit the project's public page here.

TalentSparks! is described as workshops that help teachers develop skills in biotechnology through hands-on activities. Through exciting tours and presentations by Illinois industry, TalentSparks! workshops provide visibility to potential career opportunities available in the sciences, which teachers can share with their students.

New Elluminate Links

As of July 1, 2011, we have upgraded our CoolHub CoolJam room from 25 seats to 100 seats.  Therefore there are new links for the Elluminate room which are posted on the member ToolKit page.  The recording link has also changed and both the new and old links are aslo on the ToolKit page.

At ISTE in Philadelphia

Poster Session at ISTEThanks to everyone who stopped by our table during the Monday morning poster session at ISTE in Philadelphia. It's always great to talk to old friends and meet new ones.

We handed out over 50 sets of earbuds to new account creators, from district coordinators to classroom teachers. We look forward to many new projects. Many more people picked up our new flyer to examine later.

Jim and I are ready to facilitate your project work. CoolHub is not just a space and a tool set for working collaboratively--it's a support group as well.

Architect the Future



IMSA ignites global collaboration and accelerates results by archthefuture

Jim and Carl joined Mark Hattas from Architect The Future and recorded a segment on blogtalkradio discussing CoolHub and global collaborative innovation.  To hear it, click here.

Living on a new server

Starting June 10, CoolHub is hosted at OmegaBit instead of NCSA. We are deeply grateful to NCSA for taking us from Alpha to Beta over the course of two years. We knew this day was coming and this move gives us an opportunity to continue to grow the site. We are also installing the Enterprise Edition of Liferay which will give us added capabilities. Stay tuned!

CoolHub Model Projects Tour

I'm including my email response to a new CoolHub member who is asking:

Can you point me to any "model projects" that would help me see what is possible with Coolhub? (thanks to Matt Sears for this question)

There are a number of projects that demonstrate use of Web 2.0 tools in progressing toward the goals of the project.  Many of these are Restricted, so you'd have to be granted clearance to take a look around. 

However, there are some projects in the OPEN category that may provide examples of how the space and tools are used. These include:

Global Science Seminars
(this is an older version of the project created by the Field Museum) There's a more recent version of the project here.
Beyond Web 2.0
(this is the project I use in my workshops -- it's only active during conferences but you are welcome to join and see what we've attempted to do in conferences)
International Collaborative Sustainable Energy Project
(this is an OPEN version of the project that was created to solicit proposals for further study--which are now part of a restricted project)

Matt's question prompts the need for a Project Tour of some kind. I've added that on my to-do list. One approach could be a few live tours via Elluminate. A self-paced approach could also be developed.

Where are the Students?

perplexedWe set a goal of 1,000 members by last fall. Obviously, we haven't reached that goal yet. Membership is steadily increasing, but not at the rate we had hoped. One reason is that students have not shown up.

We were on track for that 1,000 last fall when the ILIT projects were launched. But teachers in those projects never invited their students. One reason is that ILIT teachers weren't comfortable enough with CoolHub and used other online resources for sharing information with their students (e.g., wikispaces, etc.). Changing practices--learning how to use new platforms or applications--does take time and work. It's something we as CoolHub administrators need constantly to work on: facilitating change for our members.

There may be another reason why invitations are not going out to students. In most projects, students are afforded the same amount of control as teachers. This is by design -- students become peers with other collaborators regardless of their title or age. Empowering students means less control over student behaviors. For some teachers this is a deterent. For others this could be seen as an opportunity to give students control over meaningful learning.  It is possible for us to create classroom projects where students have no invitation permissions; this could be particularly useful for classes for younger students. But compartmentalizing students this way is not the big vision for CoolHub or collaborative innovation in STEM teaching and learning.

If you have thoughts on the role of students in CoolHub, we'd like to hear from you. 

New Members Home Page


newsKevin Wang (IMSA class of '12) suggested we simplify the "landing" page when members sign in. So now you'll see four buttons as the main feature of the page:

Go to Projects (including your Projects)

Start a Project

Invite a Friend

CoolHub News (shown above)

These are the top-level activities in CoolHub, so it makes sense to start the user experience with one of these choices. While the look of the page may not be what we use in the long run, we wanted members to give it try.  There is a comment box on the landing page ( if you want to give us your feedback, or you can comment to this blog post.

Another idea we may try, this one from IMSA student Mosab Elagha, is to send users to their personal web pages upon log in. Personal pages can be configured just about any way a member wants.  But we would provide a template (see my example) that includes a Wall Application, Announcements and Project Navigation (the buttons). Any thoughts?

Are you using Safari?

safariSafari users, there are known issues that prevent the Liferay platform, on which CoolHub is built, from working with Safari. Uploading documents, saving work and a number of other problems ensue. These are solved by using a different browser.

Try Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer before you tear out your hair.

Innovation on CoolHub

CoolHub Projects can accomplish four types of innovation in STEM teaching and learning. The chart below is based on information from Charles Leadbeater. Innovation is generally conceived as two types: sustaining ("coming from the inside") and disruptive ("coming from the outside"). Improvements and supplementation tend to result from sustaining innovations. Reinvention and transformation tend to result from disruptive innovations. Transformation of a system or practice tends to happen best when innovation is introduced from outside the system or practice.

Types of Innovation

What type of innovation is happening in your project?

Welcome to CoolHub Liferay V6

V6  not that kind of v6

Welcome to Liferay 6!  Liferay is the platform on which CoolHub is built. This upgrade presents a slightly different look for CoolHub and includes a number of significant improvements:


  • BreadCrumbs to improve navigation
  • Controls added to the top toolbar for better access
  • Project Owner template interface that makes it easier to add, configure and edit a new project
  • Ability to add pre-formatted pages with applications such as blogs, forums, help, search
  • Improved Invite portlet
  • New portlets such as a List of Projects and descriptions (coming soon)
  • A cleaner look and feel to the site

We'll have to update all our FAQ and Help materials as a result of the change, but these site improvements may reduce the need for those materials.


New projects may now be created

  • Use the ADD PROJECT button under "My Projects"
  • Name Your Project
  • Add a description
  • Select Project type: OPEN is the most common, allowing any CoolHub member access
  • Select Categories (the closest topic to your project)
  • Select Tags (keywords that aid in searching for your project)
  • Select CoolHub Public Pages for the Public Pages
  • Select CoolHub Private Pages for the Private Pages
  • Save
  • Once the project is saved, you will find your new project in your "My Projects" section
  • Open the project using edit controls edit control image to edit the public description, change your project banner image and describe what's happening and what's coming next.

Furnishing a CoolSpot

CoolSpot FurnitureLooking into B103 on the IMSA campus, you can now see the first wave of furniture for a CoolSpot. The clutter of office chairs around a conference table has been replaced by sleek, modular chairs and 'crushed cans' both pictured to the left.

Each CoolSpot--there's another one in B101--has a similar configuration: a relaxed, flexible seating group for 8 arranged around a low worktable (this piece has not arrived yet) with easy access to a CoolPort, the large LCD display, netbook and audio-video system that allows collaborators to enter the CoolSpot from afar.

At present, we're trying two different configurations to see how they work. The first is in B103 and consists of 6 modular seats and 2 crushed cans in fairly conservative colors. The space is not particularly large, so we didn't want to over-excite it with color. In contrast is B101, the Mac Lab, where the other IMSA CoolSpot is located. Four bright colors combine to make this a dominant feature of a large, high-ceilinged space. The plum and turmeric wedges shown actually belong in B101.

We agree with John Kao that innovation is facilitated by a sense of space. Our first CoolSpots are experimental by design. We will use the data gathered from participants to ensure that big ideas, breakthrough thinking and impossible solutions feel at home here.

There's more to come: watch for oval worktables, writable walls, special lighting and manipulatives to round out the space.

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