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National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education: an assessment

23 Aug 2016

The National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) was formed in 2001 to "stimulate collaboration between selected liberal arts colleges and to act as a catalyst for the effective integration of emerging and newer digital technologies into teaching, learning, scholarship, and information management." In July 2015, NITLE migrated its operations from Southwestern University to CLIR. In conjunction with this migration, CLIR initiated a rigorous analysis of NITLE's current condition and the needs of its constituents. CLIR engaged a six-member team of consultants to conduct the assessment.

Drawing on a review of NITLE’s history, and interviews and surveys of past and current stakeholders, the assessment team identifies ways to build thoughtfully on NITLE's legacy to support the use of digital technologies in liberal education.

Six consultants, all current or former CLIR Postdoctoral Fellows, conducted the assessment, which drew on historical records, interviews with NITLE stakeholders, and a survey of the broader community of professionals in technology and liberal education, to develop the following recommendations for any entity seeking to serve constituents similar to those served by NITLE:

  • Maintain a liberal arts focus.
  • Do market research to determine how a future organization should support members at the local or national level, or both. Such research could identify gaps that might best be addressed through regional initiatives, and those that require national coordination.
  • Clearly articulate the organization’s mission, primary audience, and value proposition. Pay particular attention to whether faculty members will be a key part of the audience.
  • Ensure that membership fees are in line with members’ perceived return on investment. Have a robust and well-communicated business plan.
  • Develop a culture of ongoing assessment to demonstrate the return on investment for members.
  • Regularly communicate with members.
  • Distinguish the organization from others with a similar audience or mission.
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