The EDUCAUSE Constituent and Discussion Group Program supports online group dialogue among members and others with common interests and experience in special topics and most groups meet at the EDUCAUSE annual conference. Through e-mail listservs, communities form around ongoing, focused IT concerns, with individual subscribers contributing or listening in on news, issues, policies, practices, questions, and solutions in the topic areas.
- Constituent and Discussion Groups are driven by member interest and energy. While trying to meet members' needs, staff aim to strike a reasonable balance between an overly restrictive definition of group categories and a confusing plethora of overlapping special interests.
- Volunteer group leaders, often the individuals who expressed interest in starting a specific group in the first place, serve as liaisons with EDUCAUSE staff, plan and facilitate group meetings, and help staff resolve discussion list issues where necessary. They must be employed at member institutions.
- Web pages for each group identify the leader and provide access to subscription information; discussion archives, including minutes of group meetings; related resources; and to the EDUCAUSE Constituent and Discussion Group Participation Guidelines.
- Group listservs are self-subscribed and are open to both members and non-members.
- Corporate members and representatives of the media are welcome to participate and contribute to professional understanding of issues under discussion. Lists are not to be used as marketing forums. In case of competing interests, priority will be given to those of institutional members.
- The level of interest in most groups will fluctuate from year to year. Staff periodically review activity patterns and encourage elimination or consolidation of inactive groups or those whose interests have merged.
The most common communication among group members is through an unmoderated listserv. The group's volunteer leader may direct and encourage discussion but does not regulate postings; he or she also works with EDUCAUSE staff to resolve any administrative or philosophical issues. General characteristics of these lists include:
- Open, self-subscription to encourage wide involvement of interested professionals
- Fully searchable archives of list postings accessible from each group Web page (NOTE: Postings to a Constituent Group listserv are indexed and archived in a publicly searchable format in keeping with the association's commitment to open sharing of ideas, issues, and practices involving information technology in higher education. This allows quick review of past discussions on the listserv.)
- Related resources list, consisting of a variety of links recommended by the subscribers, leader, or staff posted to each group Web page
Meeting at the Annual Conference
Time slots and meeting space are allocated for meetings of constituent groups at the EDUCAUSE annual conference. In the rare situation that the number of meeting rooms at a conference site is insufficient to meet the demand, priority will be given to groups showing the highest level of interest among association members based on participation levels at previous meetings, activity on the discussion list, and/or focus on new subjects that reflect important, strategic current issues. General guidelines are:
- Prior to the conference, staff invite group leaders to express their interest in holding a meeting at the conference and arrange meeting logistics.
- The group leader develops a meeting agenda based on communication with list members and awareness of relevant issues, facilitates meeting discussion, prepares or arranges for meeting minutes for the group's archive, and works with staff for any requested follow-up activities.
- At the meeting, the group leader is encouraged to provide, either personally or through invited participants, sufficient expertise in the subject to ensure that discussion at the meeting will be educational for the less-experienced attendees and will provide useful exchanges among those with more background.
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