Mutual Commitment to Vision, Purpose, and Mission

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In addition to participation guidelines it helps to provide an explicit agreement about mutual commitment to the purpose of your online learning event. For example, for eight months during 1996, online pioneers Peter and Trudy Johnson-Lenz hosted an online event attended by a group of 60 consultants and executives of major corporations as part of an experiment in developing an online learning community, which they called the “Community of Inquiry and Practice” or CIP. FutureU principle Claude Whitmyer helped provide technical support and facilitation. You can learn more about this experiment by visiting The following community covenant was used to define the mutual commitment to the project for all participants.

Community Covenant

We must be the change we wish to see in the world. – Gandhi

To provide a context for authentic participation, we need sanctuary-a safe place to share what is on our minds and hearts so we can tap the creative wellsprings of who we are together.

To that end, we have a covenant of confidentiality and community norms. All CIP participants are asked to agree to it.

A covenant is an agreement or compact among two or more parties. The word covenant comes from Old French and Latin roots meaning “to come together” or “to be of one mind.”

Our norms may evolve as the community develops. To begin, participants are asked to agree to:

    • keep confidential other people’s items (unless permission is explicitly given by the author to do otherwise); each person’s words are his or her own
    • recognize that together we are creating shared meaning which belongs to all of us
    • participate thoughtfully and respond on time, usually checking in 2-3 times a week
    • if possible, use Who’s Here to let others know when you will be away or unable to participate fully for whatever reason; for example, some people will be traveling or on vacation during parts of the CIP
    • operate in the spirit of inquiry, knowing there is no exclusive right answer, but everyone has part of the answer, so it’s important to hear and consider all points of view and examine our deeply held assumptions
    • listen with care and compassion to what’s behind each person’s words, as well as the words themselves (active, compassionate, and reflective listening)
    • be willing to be open to new ideas, possibilities, and ways of being
    • engage in a personal practice of your own choice for the duration of the CIP
    • be responsible for asking for what you want and need and for agreeing or not agreeing to others’ requests
    • clear up any issues as they arise with the person or people directly involved
    • express your truth as clearly and gracefully as you can in the moment, without blame or judgement
    • where appropriate, speak from the heart as well as from your mind, bringing more of yourself to the conversation
    • follow your own inner wisdom and guidance

To further create a safe environment, we each complete an on-line Personal Profile so that all members are better known to each other.

Finally, all communications are encrypted so that people outside the Community cannot read them. (For more information, double-click on Design Commentaries: Security.)


Guidelines for the 1996 Awakening Technology On-Line Community of Inquiry and Practice (CIP). Content and Groupware Design ©(c) 1996 Awakening Technology. Licensed for use by individual members of the CIP only. All rights reserved.

Academic Version, Release 3.0