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How to be an Ascend Community Lead

Instructors usually implement Ascend as a part of a team or “Community.” Communities group Classes and instructors together so that their data can be averaged together in reports and so they can coordinate implementation details, like their survey schedule. Ascend Communities can be small (just a few classes taught by the same instructor) or big (hundreds of classes in a large university). 

Every Ascend Community has one or more Community Leads. Community Leads help the instructors in their Community learn about Ascend, set up their Classes, survey students, reflect on their reports, and test changes. Community Leads usually also plan Ascend implementation and convene members of their community for periodic meetings. 

Community Lead responsibilities can be divided between multiple co-leads. For example, one person might facilitate meetings while another provides technical support. 

If you’re a Community Lead, you and your co-leads will:

1. Set the Stage for Effective Implementation
  1. Familiarize yourself with the Lead an Ascend Community section of the Ascend Support Portal (which you’re reading right now). You’re off to a great start!
  2. Learn about Structures & Cultures that Support Improvement so that you can create a professional learning context that motivates and empowers instructors, and doesn’t burn them out.
  3. Use the Implementation Planning Tool to clarify your plans and to identify premium support options that might be relevant to you, like a planning consultation with PERTS staff.
2. Welcome Instructors into your Ascend Community
  1. Get instructors and other stakeholders excited to join or support your Ascend Community by sharing or adapting these videos, letters, and flyers or invite them to a demo.
  2. Host a Launch Meeting to align on goals, norms, and commitments across your Community. Share the  Checklist for Instructors to clarify next steps.
3. Set Up Your Community on the Ascend Platform

Note: PERTS will do this for you if you opt for a “batch upload.”

  1. Sign up for Ascend at
  2. Create a Community on the Ascend platform
  3. Invite instructors to join your Community by adding them as Community Members.
  4. Ask instructors to create their Classes in your Community and populate their Rosters. Or you can create Classes and populate Rosters for them. 
  5. Schedule your surveys.
4. Facilitate Iterative Improvement over Multiple Cycles.

The following actions should take place each survey cycle. 

  1. Ensure surveys are scheduled according to your intended timeline. Instructors will receive automated reminders with class-specific survey instructions when it’s time to survey students, based on the schedule.
  2. Check the Participation Dashboard to see if instructors are on track, and to offer support if they fall behind.
  3. Facilitate a Community of Practice meeting (or get a volunteer to facilitate). Consult the CoP meeting protocols for suggestions. 
  4. Ensure instructors identify one or more changes they will try out to improve learning conditions and support them to try out these new practices in their classrooms. 
5. Celebrate & Recognize Progress
  1. After instructors complete all survey cycles (we recommend at least 3), host a reflection meeting in which all instructors, or instructors who volunteer, describe what they learned and how their practice has evolved with input from their students and colleagues.
  2. If possible, make a plan to share these reflections with your broader college community and invite other instructors to join you in using Ascend.
  3. If possible, award continuing education credits to instructors who fulfilled participation commitments.

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