Return to Consortium Homepage Frequently Asked Questions


Q:    Who is eligible to apply?
A:    Any CIC Institutional Member may apply except institutions that are participating in the current Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction. Institutions with successful experience in online education in fields other than the humanities are especially encouraged to apply. Institutions with limited experience in developing online learning options for students should describe in detail the resources they plan to commit to online instruction and the level of campus support.

Q:    Can institutions apply as part of a multi-institution team?
A:    Institutions should apply individually. However, CIC may consider proposals from two or more institutions to develop courses in collaboration—for example, courses team-taught by faculty members from different institutions or paired courses with related content. Please let CIC know in advance if you are considering a collaborative proposal.

Q:    Can institutions apply if they are already part of another course-sharing consortium?
A:    Yes. CIC welcomes applicants that can share best practices in institutional collaboration learned through membership in other consortia. However, enrollment in online courses developed for this Consortium will be limited to students from the participating institutions during the term of the project.


Q:     What subject areas are eligible for participation in the Consortium?
A:     The Consortium is intended to explore online instruction in the humanities. According to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the humanities include, but are not limited to, “the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; [and] those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods.” Courses that focus on artistic performance (including creative writing) rather than interpretation of the arts are not eligible.

Q:    What kinds of courses are eligible for participation?
A:    The focus of this project is upper-level courses in the humanities that are required or strongly recommended for majors. CIC is especially interested in courses that are potential substitutes for courses in the same major at comparable institutions. One could imagine, for example, that most English majors require a course on Chaucer, yet few colleges are able to enroll an adequate number of students in the course to make it cost-effective to offer. Courses on highly specialized topics that reflect the particular teaching or research interests of individual faculty members and are unlikely to satisfy major requirements in programs at other institutions are not appropriate for the Consortium. Applicants should explain how the proposed courses contribute to the curriculum for undergraduate majors as well as the general education curriculum, if applicable. Graduate and professional courses will not be considered regardless of subject matter.

Q:    What types of online instruction may be offered?
A:    Consortium members are expected to develop and offer credit-bearing undergraduate courses to be taught during a standard academic semester. These courses may be in a hybrid format or wholly online and may include synchronous or asynchronous components. Other forms of online instruction, such as self-paced tutorials, social media-based learning communities, or competency-based education, are not eligible. Courses developed as part of wholly online programs are not eligible. Non-credit courses developed for public use are not eligible. Proposed courses should be adaptable to the enrollment of students from multiple campuses.

Q:    Can an institution propose two courses from the same department?
A:    Yes, and in this case CIC suggests that applicants provide an explanation of how the department might be transformed as a result.

Q:    Do the proposed courses have to be offered in English?
A:    No, so long as the language of instruction is integral to the humanities content of the course (for example, an upper-level course on Spanish literature that is offered in Spanish). Courses that focus primarily on the acquisition of language skills are not eligible.

Q:    Should applicants include a minimum or maximum enrollment size for the proposed courses?
A:    While it may not be possible to guarantee a certain enrollment in advance, CIC is looking for approaches that use technology to create efficiencies while offering equivalent or improved instructional quality. Efficiencies are most likely to come from enrolling more students than usual for an upper-level course, providing more flexible scheduling options for students, and helping institutions allocate their teaching resources more effectively (e.g., by using Consortium courses to substitute for courses usually taught by a faculty member on leave). Each institution will define eligibility criteria and establish enrollment limits for its own courses. Please note that CIC’s experience with the first Consortium is that too few students enrolled in online humanities courses is a more likely concern than too many students.


Q:    Who should be on the project team?
A:    Each application must include a project team of four people, including two faculty members, a senior administrator (such as the chief academic officer or a division dean), and the campus registrar or other representative from the registrar’s office (such as a transfer coordinator). Applicants are encouraged to identify other staff members, such as instructional designers, librarians, and IT staff, who will provide direct support for the proposed courses.

Q:    Do the instructors need to be full-time or tenure-track?
A:    Instructors must be full-time, permanent members of the faculty and likely to be continuing members of the faculty beyond the end of the project in 2018.

Q:    What is the role of the academic administrator?
A:    The role of the administrator is to provide project leadership, to encourage campus-wide discussions of the role of online learning, and to provide feedback to CIC on lessons learned. Participation in the Consortium is an institutional commitment, so the administrator’s role includes coordination of institutional resources (such as IT support) needed to participate successfully in the Consortium. The administrator also will help monitor instructional costs and savings.

Q:    What is the role of the registrar?
A:    The Consortium involves the development and assessment of online courses and the development and assessment of consortial relationships, including the sharing of students and courses during the final year of the project. Registrars are essential to effective inter-institutional collaboration, from identifying campus resources and interpreting policies about course listings and student enrollments to building campus support for online learning.


Q:    What kinds of technical support should applicants have in place already?
A:    There are no specific requirements. However, CIC will look for evidence in the application of capacity to integrate new online materials into existing infrastructure. The applicant’s IT department should be involved in the planning of this project and be willing to work with instructors and students to set up the technology and handle related issues.

Q:    How will evaluations be conducted?
A:    Ithaka S+R will work with each team and the Consortium as a whole to conduct appropriate evaluations of the impact of the project on student learning and costs. The Consortium also will take advantage of the expertise and experience of participants from the first consortium, who have helped develop standard assessment rubrics. Peer reviewers will be recruited to assess student learning outcomes. Ithaka S+R will collect anonymous background data on students and conduct student and instructor surveys. In addition, Ithaka S+R will collect data on the time and costs needed to develop and deliver each course. Instructors will be asked to keep track of the time spent on these activities.

Q:    Who will own the courses developed as part of the Consortium?
A:    Ownership of course materials developed as part of the Consortium will depend on the policies of the individual institutions at which they are created. However, institutions may have to negotiate some terms of ownership or use of existing content with technology or digital content providers. Under the terms of the grant, CIC expects that courses or course materials created as part of the Consortium be made available to the other members of the Consortium during the life of the project. In all cases, the original authors or creators of online materials should be credited appropriately. CIC, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Ithaka S+R will not assume ownership of any course materials created as part of the Consortium.

Q:    Can CIC help us negotiate with technology providers?
A:    Ithaka S+R can facilitate contacts with some providers of education technology and digital content, but Consortium members are expected to work directly with any technology provider. There are many different technology platforms for online instruction and CIC does not favor one platform or technology over another. However, CIC expects that any course developed as part of the Consortium will be in a format that can be shared with other institutions during the term of the project

Q:    When is the first workshop for Consortium participants?
A:    Team members from the selected institutions are expected to participate in three face-to-face workshops during the term of the project, beginning with a workshop in Alexandria, Virginia, on August 7–9, 2016. There also will be online workshops or conference calls for faculty members and administrators in fall 2016.