About The Commons

The Academic Commons is hosted by the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) All content on the Academic Commons is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Authors who submit content for distribution via the Academic Commons, attest that their submissions are original, that they are the author, and that they grant permission to NITLE to distribute it under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Creative Commons License

“Sustained collaborations are extensible; they are inclusive and expansive to a larger community, beyond that of the founders. Successful collaborations go beyond the individual and the immediate. When thinking through problem definition and scope, planners do well to include the means to create a conduit to present the work to the world through case studies, articles, essays, workshops, summer institutes, etc. The NITLE program will help planners build this potential into the program plan and schedule the resources to execute a communication plan.” (“NITLE Principles of Collaboration”)

About NITLE’s Academic Commons

The Academic Commons is a platform for sharing practices, outcomes, and lessons learned. The community can use this platform to advance specific collaborative efforts toward stated strategic goals and concrete outcomes and to facilitate the collaborative development of knowledge. The Academic Commons provides studio space for developing ideas, presents a portfolio of experimentation, and serves as a platform/tool that institutions and organizations can use strategically to share their own and learn from each other’s work in an open, collaborative way.

In hosting the Academic Commons, NITLE seeks to minimize barriers to exchange and to encourage and promote open, collegial exchange, constructive feedback, mutual learning, professional quality, and strategically sound collaborations. Via the Academic Commons, NITLE

  • helps institutions and organizations report on and share practices, outcomes, and lessons learned in ways that build the liberal education community’s capacity for purposeful, sustainable, successful collaboration;
  • facilitates access to and use of platforms for sharing that help contributors’ achieve strategic goals;
  • helps contributors connect with like-minded colleagues in the liberal education community as they develop articles, case studies, seminars, and other forms of sharing; and
  • enables people, institutions, and organizations to build an active learning network around shared purposes and similar goals.

How it works

  • Institutions and organizations developing concrete, collaborative initiatives and programs use the Academic Commons to report on and share practices, outcomes, and lessons learned. The Academic Commons provides a channel for developing and distributing content that helps them advance toward specific strategic goals and extends their work beyond its immediate boundaries to others in the liberal education community.
  • NITLE helps contributors use the Academic Commons by providing structured processes, tools, templates, guidelines, and shared platforms, and by connecting them with colleagues able to contribute additional review and feedback, as appropriate.
  • The broader network learns and benefits from the knowledge shared via the Academic Commons, further connecting people and institutions and building a collegial network with an increasing capacity for purposeful, sustainable, successful collaboration.

A note about content preservation: The Academic Commons is not an archive. Sponsors and contributors continue to own their own content, even as NITLE facilitates distribution and hosts content online. A networked/federated approach to preservation (rather than a single, central archive) ensures preservation of content.

Submitting Articles

Those interested in developing articles for distribution via the Academic Commons can do so as follows.

  1. Notify NITLE. Let us know that you are developing an article for the Academic Commons. Our e-mail address is contact@nitle.org. If you provide a brief synopsis of your article, we will provide feedback about whether it will be a good fit for distribution via the Academic Commons.
  2. Write your article. Read our content-submission requirements before you write your article. You are responsible for ensuring that your submission is error-free and conforms to requirements. Once your article is ready for distribution, send it to contact@nitle.org.
  3. Publicize your work. Within five business days, NITLE will publish your article under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and send you the URL and a .pdf file for your archives. We encourage you to publicize your published article via NITLE’s LinkedIn group, NITLE-IT e-mail list, and any other channel of your choosing. We publicize selected articles via the NITLE News e-newsletter on a regular basis. If we have additional suggestions for appropriately promoting your work, we will share these with you.

Keep in touch. Within six months of initial distribution, NITLE will follow up with you to find out how publication of your article has impacted your work.

Submitting Case Studies

Those interested in developing case studies for distribution via the Academic Commons can do so as follows. NITLE is especially interested in case studies that illustrate effective approaches to collaboration.

1. Send a short prospectus—about 200 – 500 words in the body of an e-mail message—to contact@nitle.org. Describe the initiative or program on which you’d like to report, including its strategic goals. Briefly outline the practices, outcomes, and lessons learned that you would like to share. Along with your prospectus, include the following information as well:

A. The institution(s) and/or organization(s) sponsoring the initiative or program.
B. The names, job titles, institutional affiliations, and e-mail addresses of the authors.
C. An estimated date by which a polished first draft will be submitted.
D. Whether you would like assistance with identifying reviewers willing to provide you with constructive, substantive feedback on your first draft.

Within ten business days, NITLE will let you know whether your proposed content is appropriate for distribution via the Academic Commons. If so, we will send you a tentative publication timeline. We may also send substantive recommendations for developing the prospectus into a case study.

2. Develop your case study. Use our case study guidelines and content-submission requirements to develop your case study, and send a polished first draft to contact@nitle.org. The first draft should be error-free and conform to content-submission requirements.
3. Work with your reviewers. NITLE will send you a final publication timeline. If requested and secured, we will also send you a short list of reviewers willing to review your draft along with our peer review guidelines. Authors are responsible for coordinating work with reviewers and revising the draft for final publication.
4. Submit your finalized case study. Once your case study is ready for distribution, send it to contact@nitle.org. You are responsible for ensuring that your submission is error-free and conforms to requirements.
5. Publicize your work. Within five business days, NITLE will publish your case study under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and send you the URL and a .pdf file for your archives. We encourage you to publicize your case study via NITLE’s LinkedIn group, NITLE-IT e-mail list, and any other channel of your choosing. We will publicize your case study via the NITLE News e-newsletter. If we have additional suggestions for appropriately promoting your work, we will share these with you.
6. Keep in touch. Within six months of publication, we will ask you for feedback regarding the impact of publication on your initiative’s ongoing development and your progress in achieving strategic goals.

Submitting Calls for Proposals

Those interested in distributing calls for proposals via the Academic Commons can do so as follows. Please allow sufficient time between submitting the call and the call’s proposal submission deadline. NITLE is especially interested in calls that will result in concrete case studies focused on strategic, collaborative initiatives that describe effective approaches to collaboration.

1. Notify NITLE. Let us know that you would like to distribute a call for proposals via the Academic Commons. Our e-mail address is contact@nitle.org. Please provide a brief synopsis of the call and tell us about the strategic goals and expected outcomes you hope to achieve by sponsoring it.
2. Develop your call for proposals. If you would like feedback during this process, please feel free to send us drafts. In your call, we recommend that you clearly state or describe:

a. The title of the call, its sponsoring institution(s) and/or organization(s), and the name, job title, institutional affiliation, and e-mail address of the project lead.
b. The reason for issuing the call, the focus of the call, the types of proposals you seek, the venue for delivering final content (e.g., a conference, print or digital publication, Academic Commons, etc.), and any other expected outcomes of the call (for authors and sponsors).
c. The process, timeline, and deadlines for submission and review of proposals, a mechanism for submissions, and criteria for acceptance.
d. The process, timeline, and deadlines by which you will work with your presenters or authors and support development and delivery of final content.
e. If your call will result in additional content to be distributed via the Academic Commons, please model it on the processes described above under “Submitting Articles” or “Submitting Case Studies.”

3. Submit your call. Once your call is ready for distribution, send it to contact@nitle.org. You are responsible for ensuring that your submission is error-free and conforms to our content-submission requirements (not all requirements will apply).
4. Publicize your call. Within five business days, NITLE will publish your call under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and send you the URL and a .pdf file for your archives. We encourage you to publicize your published call for proposals via NITLE’s LinkedIn group, NITLE-IT e-mail list, and any other channel of your choosing. We will publicize your call via the NITLE News e-newsletter. If we have additional suggestions for appropriately promoting your work, we will share these with you.
5. Keep in touch. As you receive proposals and develop your project, let us know how your work is progressing. Within six months of distributing your call via the Academic Commons, we will ask you for feedback regarding its usefulness in achieving the stated strategic goals and expected outcomes that you articulated at the time of submission.

Scheduling a Seminar

Those interested in leading a seminar via the Academic Commons can do so as follows. Please submit your seminar for publication no fewer than 25 business days prior to its earliest proposed date.

1. Take time to think about your purpose and audience. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to share, what you will achieve by sharing it, and who will find it interesting, important, and useful. Answer these questions before deciding to lead an Academic Commons seminar:

a. What outcomes do I expect to achieve for my institution/organization in leading/sponsoring this seminar?
b. What outcomes will this seminar help participants achieve?
c. Who will most benefit from engaging my seminar?
d. With whom should I collaborate to develop this seminar? Who are my seminar leaders?

See our YouTube channel for examples of past seminars. If you have questions about whether leading a seminar is an effective way to achieve your strategic goals and promote your work, or whether the focus of your seminar is appropriate for the Academic Commons platform, please contact us (contact@nitle.org) with a basic sketch of your idea. We will reply within three business days and may request a follow-up call.

2. Check your technology set-up. Academic Commons seminars take place online, using one of two videoconferencing platforms – WebEx or Blue Jeans. The platform selected will depend on the needs of the seminar. In order to lead a seminar, you must have/use

a. a reliable computer
b. a wired Internet connection with upload and download speeds suitable for video
c. a video camera and microphone
d. a headset for audio and echo cancellation
e. a setting with good lighting

All seminar leaders must meet these technology requirements in order to lead a seminar. Contact your local IT staff if you have questions about your technology.

3. Establish a timeline for developing your seminar. In consultation with your colleagues, select both a target date and a back-up date for the seminar. NITLE must receive the text and files for your seminar announcement no fewer than 25 business days before the earliest of these to allow sufficient time for marketing, recruiting participants, and other preparations. A longer lead time between submission and delivery may be warranted if you would like participants to engage in pre-seminar preparations. Make sure your timeline accounts for

a. time for development, preparation, and coordination with colleagues and with NITLE
b. a 1-hour practice session, with a technology check
c. 1 ½ hours for seminar delivery: 30 minutes for final set-up, coordination, and technology check; 1 hour for seminar delivery.
d. time for follow-up with participants in subsequent weeks

4. Make a reservation. Reserve your seminar date by sending at least two possible dates (with times) for the seminar (a first choice and a back-up choice) to us at contact@nitle.org.We will confirm a seminar date and registration deadline with you within three business days. If there is a scheduling conflict with another seminar, we will let you know.

5. Select a format. The most effective format for your seminar will depend on the outcomes you wish to achieve. We strongly recommend an emphasis on interactivity with and between participants. Some options include:

a. introductions, a 25-minute presentation (with breaks for questions), 25 minutes of discussion, summary and closing
b. introductions, shorter segments of presentation focused on targeted points, pervasive discussion, summary and closing
c. introductions, roundtable discussion, summary and closing (best for small, highly targeted seminars)

6. Develop your seminar announcement. Use our seminar announcement guidelines. Seminar leaders are responsible for ensuring that their seminar announcement is error-free and conforms to the template included with the guidelines.
7. Submit your seminar announcement. Once your seminar announcement is ready for distribution, send it to contact@nitle.org, per our seminar announcement guidelines. At this time, each seminar leader must also complete and submit our speaker agreement and video release form. All Academic Commons seminars are recorded and posted to NITLE’s public YouTube channel.
8. Publicize your seminar. Within five business days of receiving all materials, NITLE will schedule/publish your seminar under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. We will send you the URL and a .pdf file for your archives, information about your scheduled practice time(s) and delivery platform, and a link to the spreadsheet that tracks incoming registrations. We encourage you to publicize your seminar as soon as possible via NITLE’s LinkedIn group, NITLE-IT e-mail list, and any other channel of your choosing. NITLE will publicize your seminar via the NITLE News e-newsletter within five business days of publishing it. We recommend that you re-publicize your seminar 7 days before the event date and 1 day before the registration deadline. If we have additional suggestions for promoting your seminar, we will share these with you.
9. Learn about your participants. As your registrations roll in, take some time to review your participant list, including responses to any special questions you included on the registration form.
10. Practice and prepare. As necessary, continue your preparations for the seminar, including conducting a full run-through during your scheduled practice session(s). Give yourself time to test your computer setup, get comfortable with the technology, practice recording, and think through how to manage potential interactions with your audience. You may wish to record your practice session for review.
11. Deliver and record your seminar. Enter the virtual seminar room 30 minutes early for final set-up, coordination, and technology check. Begin to greet participants approximately 5 minutes before start time. Begin recording as you bring your seminar to order; stop recording after discussion wraps up. If additional time is needed to wrap up discussion, feel free to extend the seminar for up to 15 additional minutes.
12. Submit your recording. If you are using the WebEx platform, we will collect your recording and post it on our public YouTube channel. Otherwise, please send the video footage of your seminar to contact@nitle.org within one week. We regularly share information about recorded seminars via the NITLE News.
13. Submit a follow-up brief. Within two weeks of delivering your seminar, use the Academic Commons to share a brief report (500 words) with the community about the seminar’s key outcomes. (Please see the process described under “Submitting Articles,” above.) We recommend that you include a list of participants (with institutional affiliations) and links to the seminar recording, original seminar announcement, and your presentation slides (if any). Be sure to list your contact information so that people can follow up with you about your work.
14. Keep in touch. Within six months of your seminar, NITLE will ask you for feedback regarding its impact on your initiative’s ongoing development and your progress in achieving strategic goals.