In order to allow all Institute participants to share their experiences and to foster a community both within and between the five Institute tracks, we created an interactive website called the Institute Commons. The Commons was created using an online service called Ning which effectively allows one to build a private social networking site. As a result, the site is very user-centered and it is the involvement of the users who help to make the site engaging and interesting. The Institute Commons will be our primary communications vehicle with those participating in the Institute for the next two years.
We are using the lessons learned from the Commons to help us develop the community aspect of the new COIL website which we hope to unveil in early 2014. Below is a screenshot of the Commons homepage.