I am heavily invested in the connectedness model of online communities and teaching students how to understand these communities as well as how their cultures operate—where and how learning takes place, ideas are grown, and collaborations begin. One example exists through the work I have done as the Special Projects Developer, and formerly as Outreach Coordinator, for the CUNY Academic Commons academic social network. This network was created by and for CUNY faculty, administrators, staff, postdocs, graduate students, and alumni. The site offers members the chance to connect to and collaborate with thousands of colleagues from our twenty-four campus system.
The site has been recognized by numerous organizations and media outlets for its innovation and leadership in creating a model private social network built on free open-source tools shared with the entire world. With the support of a Sloan Foundation grant, we were able to create Commons In a Box – a means of replicating the project elsewhere, with maximum ease and minimum expense. As a result, thousands of other organizations have been able to build their own sites outside the confines of the overly commodified world of for-profit social networks. In fact, the project won a Digital Humanities Awards – Highlighting Resources in Digital Humanities, 2013.