For Instructors: Common Ground Frequently Asked Questions
The Common Ground for Computing Education is a cross-cutting initiative focused on broadening computing education by supporting collaborations between departments and programs. The Common Ground helps departments work together to co-develop and co-deliver computing-infused curricula within their specific domains by connecting faculty and providing a limited amount of seed funding. Learn more about the Common Ground.
Generally, Common Ground subjects:
- have core computational content that is broadly applicable, cross-fertilized across disciplines, and blended with discipline-specific material;
- are new subjects or reworked versions of existing subjects;
- involve serious collaboration between two or more departments; and
- have or plan to have a significant role within the curriculum of a department or program.
One or more of the subcommittees of the Common Ground Standing Committee reviews subjects (proposed by MIT faculty or lecturers) to determine whether they meet the criteria for the program. Learn more
No. Common Ground subjects can be offered by any combination of departments. It is not required that Course 6 be involved, nor is Course 6 excluded from collaborating.
The Common Ground for Computing Education and Social and Ethical Responsibilities in Computing (SERC) are both cross-cutting initiatives within the Schwarzman College of Computing and are both intimately tied in with the MIT curriculum; however, each has a distinct focus. The Common Ground focuses on bringing departments together to teach new interdisciplinary, computing-intensive classes, while SERC is concerned with embedding ethics into MIT’s existing computing subjects.
Common Ground subjects can be aimed at both undergraduate and graduate students.
No major, minor, or other credential will be offered by the Common Ground. Common Ground subjects are intended to fit within the curricula of MIT’s academic departments.
A list of current and past Common Ground subjects is available on the Schwarzman College of Computing website, and workshops open to all interested faculty are held occasionally throughout the year. Faculty are encouraged to reach out, at any time, to the co-chairs of the Common Ground Standing Committee’s subcommittees to learn about what’s happening and exchange ideas. If you have an idea for a class but do not know where to start, the subcommittees can help connect you with the appropriate people. Send email to email@example.com.
Teaching in the Common Ground
By offering a Common Ground subject, departments form meaningful connections that might not have otherwise occurred. Other benefits will vary depending on the subject and department. For example, a department might collaborate on a Common Ground subject that allows it to reorganize content in its other subjects which frees up space in the major.
The Common Ground is able to provide a limited amount of funding to new, or newly reworked, classes to help cover teaching support or other expenses during their development and/or first year. Instructors interested in teaching a Common Ground subject are encouraged to reach out to the Common Ground Standing Committee which makes decisions on what pilots will be funded. After the initial startup phase, the departments should be willing and able to support the class in its steady state.
In Fall 2021, the Common Ground Standing Committee held a call for pilot proposals. A second CFP is not currently scheduled; however, interested faculty and lecturers are encouraged to reach out to the committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss ideas and for help identifying potential co-instructors and partnering departments. Learn more
The collaboration continues and the Schwarzman College of Computing continues to highlight the subject as part of the Common Ground.
Focus areas are intentionally broad. The Common Ground is relatively new, and it is expected that foci and their definitions will change with time. Pilot subjects do not need to fit neatly within any of the present areas. Faculty are encouraged to be creative and think about what would best meet the needs of their majors.
Not all Common Ground subjects teach programming, nor are they restricted to a particular set of computing programs.
In general, existing classes are not considered part of the Common Ground. However, if you are interested in working with one or more departments to co-develop and co-teach a revised version of the subject, it could be eligible for Common Ground.
No! Departments are the authority on teaching their students. If a class is already working well, there is no need to change it.
The Common Ground’s goal is to develop classes that have core computing component, that is generalizable across other disciplines, and also contain discipline-specific material. Multi-department collaboration is Common Ground’s key vehicle for achieving these objectives.
Faculty and lecturers are encouraged to reach out, at any time, to the co-chairs of the Common Ground Standing Committee’s subcommittees to learn about what’s happening and exchange ideas. If you have an idea for a class but do not know where to start, the subcommittees can help connect you with the appropriate people. Send email to email@example.com.