KQED QUEST Regional Hub Collaborative Year 1 Evaluation Report
For the NSF ISE QUEST Regional Hub Collaborative project, KQED's QUEST series Executive Producer Sue Ellen McCann assembled teams from six public media organizations around the country. The project was founded on two deceptively straightforward goals: the adaptation of a successful multi-media production model and the creation of a content-sharing collaborative. Yet, when one dissects the elements required to achieve these goals, a complex set of questions emerges. These questions uncover how and why public media organizations create 21st Century STEM content, and the answers to these complex questions lead the regional hubs through a multifaceted process of institutional change. Throughout the first year of this project, each regional hub was introduced to the opportunities presented by the QUEST model, as well as the challenges inherent to organizational change. Within traditional media organizations, cross-platform content production requires shifts in cultural norms, adoption of alternative work patterns, and the development of new skills. As the hubs take on this challenge, the experiences of KQED's QUEST team offer a successful model and lessons learned. Still, each organization has to find the best ways to adapt the model given their current structure, resources and barriers. Collectively, the hubs have laid the groundwork to pilot the content-sharing collaborative, an initiative that brings to the fore its own set of editorial and technical challenges. Historically, public broadcasting stations work independently from one another. While a number of stations may contribute content to PBS's Nova television series, for instance, they all work within that program's established protocols for content, style and format. For this project, the hubs will need to work together to shape those protocols across multiple platforms and to secure funding to develop the pilot content in Year 2. At present, the hubs have decided that KQED will have editorial control of the project and that any pilot content funding will be distributed based on the number and types of pieces a hub agrees to contribute. The hubs still need to determine what their content focus will be and whether they will develop a national presence for QUEST or share content to be distributed locally in each region. Directly related to the editorial and technical challenges outlined above, the regional hubs have undertaken a process of change and adaptation. Thus, Rockman et al, the external evaluators for this project, have implemented a process evaluation to document and analyze each hub's journey. To begin this process evaluation, researchers broke down KQED's QUEST model into a number of components. Through a variety of evaluation activities, they then tracked the ways in which each hub adapted those components to their unique circumstances. During Year 1 of the project, researchers participated in webinar meetings and a project symposium, led teams from each hub through the creation of a logic model, conducted extensive interviews and site visits, and communicated regularly with the KQED QUEST staff. Researchers coded observation notes and interview transcripts for themes both within and across hubs. Out of this process, they extracted the following set of critical issues or questions that each hub was asking within its own organization and of KQED: What is QUEST?, What does it mean to work cross-platform? What is multi-media production?, What does educational media mean? What role does Education play in the production process?, What does it mean to be a QUEST community partner?, How will each hub raise funds and sustain the project?, What roles will each of the hubs and KQED play in the content collaborative? To adapt the KQED QUEST model, each participating organization needs to answer these questions in a way that fits with its unique circumstances and goals. To date, each hub has made progress in these areas; however, each one also faces continuing challenges. Their participation in this project has already fostered growth in cross platform production, moving these stations toward 21st Century media creation and distribution. As the second year begins, the project has reached a crucial juncture. The stations must transition from learning and planning to concrete actions, which will require leadership and resources. Overall, the hubs have achieved a significant level of buy-in from both staff and management, but resources remain a key concern. Without the financial support to build teams and create content, the momentum gained in Year 1 may fade in the face of more immediate work demands. The hubs are working together to secure funding for pilot content creation, which will allow them to continue to adapt the QUEST model and develop the content-sharing collaborative over the second and final year of the project.