Rather than tracking data at a course or program level, Collaboratory focuses on Activities. An Activity describes the key elements - who, what, where, when, and to what end - of what faculty, staff, and students do in and with community.

Activities are at the central unit of analysis in Collaboratory, and allow faculty and staff to report on the specific details of what happened while also connecting the Activity to a network of collaborators as well as the course, program, or initiative through which it was offered.

The Collaboratory collects both Community Engagement Activities and Public Service Activities.

Activities can be contributed by Faculty and Staff, and in some special cases, by Students. Learn more about who can contribute content here.


Administration Panel

The Administration Panel helps Administrators manage their institution's Collaboratory settings and content. The Administration Panel consists of four main sections: Internal Content, External Content, Settings, and Vault.

Accessing Administration

The Administration Panel is accessible through the Collaboratory Manager - select the three horizontal lines on the Collaboratory's top navigation and select Administration.

Internal Content displays all content that is internal to your institution, including Courses, Units, Members, and Programs/Initiatives.

External Content displays all content that is external to your institution, including Community Organizations and Institutional Partners.

Settings displays all administrative settings for your institution's Collaboratory, including the homepage content and branding.

Vault displays all content that has been archived from your institution's Collaboratory.


Campus Partner

Faculty and staff can affiliate Units with Activities as Campus Partners. It is common for activities to have more than one affiliated Campus Partner as interdisciplinary collaborations continue to increase.


Collaboratory Home

Each institution's Collaboratory homepage introduces the institution and its commitment to community engagement, and is viewable to anyone with the url. From an institution's homepage, visitors can view Activities that the administrator chooses to feature, and can do a search for content of interest (e.g., Faculty member, Community Partner, Course, focus area).


Collaboratory Manager

The Collaboratory Manager is a management feature available to Moderators and Administrators in Collaboratory. This feature is accessible by selecting the three horizontal lines on the Collaboratory's top navigation. You can easily switch between the Collaboratory view, Moderation view, or Administration view.

The Collaboratory Manager is divided into three sections:

  • Collaboratory: Navigates back to an institution's Collaboratory Homepage
  • Moderation: Allows Moderators to moderate content like Activities, Courses, Organizations, and Institutional Partners.
  • Administration: Allows Administrators to manage content and settings for an institution. Administrators can create Units, Programs/Initiatives, Courses, Community Organizations, and Institutional Partners; and manage the appearance of an institution's Collaboratory homepage.


Community Engagement 

Community Engagement requires collaborative, reciprocal processes of co–planning and co–implementation that recognize, incorporate, and value the knowledge, perspective, and resources shared among academic and community partners. The exchange of expertise and ideas leads to co–creation of knowledge and activities that generate benefits to teaching, learning and research for the academic institution as well as beneficial outcomes articulated by the external partners.

source: Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement, hosted by the Swearer Center at Brown University.


Community Organization

Community Organizations are broadly defined to include external groups, organizations, agencies, neighborhoods, and other formal and informal collective entities from any sector (such as private or public, for-profit or nonprofit). In Collaboratory other institutions of higher education are recorded separately from Community Organizations.

Community Organizations may be affiliated with Activities as either CommunityPartners or Community Participants.

Each Community Organization page displays general contact information and Activity affiliations. When a Community Organization is affiliated with an Activity, they receive an alert that they have been included in your Collaboratory.


Community Participants

Community Participants describe Community Organizations or members of the general public who receive or benefit from Public Service Activities provided by institutions of higher education. While Community Participants may invite, host, or participate in the activity, the primary activity and its delivery are provided by the higher education institution to or for the community. Public service activities typically serve the public, generally, rather than an organization or population, specifically.


Community Partners

Community Partners describe Community Organizations that have mutually beneficial and reciprocal relationships with faculty, staff, and students at institutions of higher education. Community Partners are involved throughout the planning, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of Community Engagement Activities.


Core and Co-Administrators

Each Collaboratory institution assigns a Core Administrator who:

  • Communicates with TreeTop Commons, creators of Collaboratory
  • Identifies unique institutional branding and messaging
  • Recruits and oversees Collaboratory Administrators and Moderators who manage content
  • Gets to know Collaboratory well enough to answer questions from institutional Members
  • Ensures that foundational content (i.e., Units, Programs/Initiatives) is entered before announcing Collaboratory
  • Educates the institution about how to submit content to Collaboratory
  • Leverages the data and provides others, i.e., President/Chancellor, Institutional Research, Alumni Relations, with ideas on how to use the data collected

The institution and TreeTop Commons rely on the Core Administrator to ensure submissions, usage, and resolution of issues.

Each Core Administrator is encouraged to recruit up to three additional Co-Administrators to assist in the ongoing management of your institution's Collaboratory portal.



A Course is an academic offering in which students receive academic credit towards an institutional degree or certificate.

Oftentimes an Activity will occur as part of a Course, and it is beneficial for reporting purposes to understand details about that Course (e.g., term offered, format, or level).


Faculty/Staff Partner

Oftentimes Activities are conducted as collaborations between multiple faculty and staff across an institution. Faculty/Staff Partners are identified as part of Activity creation and allow Activity owners to identify other collaborators at the institution involved with the Activity.


Institutional Partner

Institutional Partners include other higher education institutions that collaborate on Activities. Collaboratory collects institutional partners separately from community partners or participants.


Institutional Profile

When a Faculty or Staff Member is successfully authenticated with Collaboratory -- generally the first time they log-in -- a Profile is created for them. The Member can edit the Profile to share contact information and details about their interests and scholarship around Community Engagement and Public Service.

Profiles are viewable and searchable in Collaboratory to showcase engagement and service work to multiple stakeholders.



A Member is a faculty, staff, or student affiliated with a higher education institution who has registered for an account with a specific institution's Collaboratory portal.

Faculty and Staff Members can:

  • Contribute their own content (e.g., Activities, Courses, Organizations)
  • Contribute content on behalf of another Member (Proxy)
  • Edit Activities and Courses with which they are affiliated, alongside the content owner
  • Manage their Profile, if a Faculty or Staff Member

Student Members can:

  • Contribute content on behalf of another Member (Proxy)

All Members have a Member Home where they can view the status of their efforts.

Members may be given permission by their portal Administrator to assist with administrative tasks as Moderators or Administrators. 


Member Home

Member Home is your personal workspace in Collaboratory. To access Member Home, select My Content in the top left corner of the top navigation. In the bottom right corner of the dropdown, select Member Home.

From Member Home, you will see an overview of your Collaboratory memberships, and any content that is in progress or that has been submitted. You will know when you are in your Member Home by the Collaboratory logo in the top left corner and the burgundy color in the top navigation.

Member Home contains Track, which helps Members review the status of and manage their content submissions and invitations.

Member Home also contains Account, which helps Members manage their Collaboratory account information.

There are two ways to quickly navigate back to your institution's Collaboratory Portal at any time:

  1. Select Collaboratory Home or My Collaboratory Profile under your profile image.
  2. From the top right corner of the top navigation, select My Account and then Institutional Profile.



Moderate allows a Moderator to quickly approve or deny content contributed to their institution's Collaboratory.

There are different types of content a Moderator can approve:

  • Activities
  • Courses
  • Community Organizations
  • Institutional Partners


Moderation Panel

The Moderation Panel helps Moderators review and approve or deny content contributed to their institution's Collaboratory.

The Moderation Panel is accessible through the Collaboratory Manager - select the three horizontal lines on the Collaboratory's top navigation from your portal's homepage and then select Moderation.

The Moderation Panel consists of two main sections: Moderate and History.

Moderate displays all content that is currently pending review and approval. Content is filterable by type using the left-hand sidebar.

History displays all content that has already been moderated for your institution's Collaboratory.



Moderators are approved by Collaboratory Administrators to assist with managing the content for an institution's Portal. Moderators can review and approve or deny content submitted by Members.

If you believe you should be a Moderator at your institution, contact your Collaboratory Administrator.


Mutual Benefit

In mutually beneficial relationships, each party articulates intended benefits and the activities are jointly designed in ways meant to deliver on those intended benefits. Each party also has the opportunity to report on the degree to which the interaction contributes to the goals or outcomes that they were expecting from their shared effort or benefits from its involvement. We often frame mutual benefit as a “win-win” relationship.

My Account

My Account is accessible via Member Home. In your Account you can manage and update your personal information and preferences. You can also change your email and password preferences.

You can also access your Account settings at any time from the My Accountdropdown in right hand corner of the header.


My Alerts

My Alerts helps Members access and manage important Collaboratory notifications. From the right corner of the top navigation, select the My Alerts icon to review or take action on an alert.


My Content

My Content is a shortcut to your data that is accessible from any part of Collaboratory by clicking on the institution's name on the left side of the top navigation. My Content consists of all content that you own, and can be filtered by type. Note that Members will not see content contributed by others at their institution in this space.

A quick search allows Members to query their Content for specific data.

If you are acting as a proxy for an Activity, the Activity will appear in your Content until the Activity is approved by an Administrator for publication.  The Activity will remain in the proxy's Content after it is claimed by the Activity lead, as the Proxy retains the ability to edit and publish the Activity.

If you are acting as a proxy for a Course or Organization, the Course, or Organization will appear in your Content until it is claimed by the owner. Once claimed, the ownership is transferred to the owner, and the Course or Organization will then appear in the owner's Content and be removed from the proxy's Content.

If you are an Administrator and would like to see a complete list of published content associated with your portal, navigate to Administration | Internal.


My Information

There are multiple places throughout Collaboratory for members to manage different aspects of their personal information:

  • My Account: Members can manage their log-in information, update email preferences, and provide demographics.
  • Institutional Profile: Profiles are publicly viewable and searchable in Collaboratory to showcase engagement and service work to multiple stakeholders. They display information about your position at your institution and provide a space for you to talk about your approach to your work.



Collaboratory enables faculty and staff to track the Programs and Initiatives through which Activities take place. These Programs and Initiatives are customizable, identified by your institution to reflect your unique programming and priorities, and can be selected by those completing Activities in Collaboratory. This allows Administrators to report data on a program-by-program basis, without losing the specific details of each individual Activity.

For example, interdisciplinary teams may collaborate on community-based research grants, which are reported in Collaboratory as five separate Activities, each of which provide the specific details of who participated, who was served, and what impact areas were addressed. Each of those five Activities may be affiliated with the Community-Based Research Grant Program.

Activities may also be affiliated with Initiatives, such as a Quality Enhancement or Strategic Plan, Capital Campaign, or curricular tracks.



A Proxy is a faculty, staff, or student Member who completes an Activity on behalf of another Member that owns the Activity.

Faculty and staff can volunteer to proxy an Activity for another Member ("Be the Proxy"). They can also invite other faculty, staff, or students to complete an Activity on their behalf ("Invite a Proxy"). Lastly, they can invite multiple proxies at once to complete Activities on their behalf (Invite Multiple Proxies).

All content contributed by proxies must be claimed by the Activity Lead before it is made public in Collaboratory.  After the Activity Lead claims the content, Proxies may continue to edit the content and submit it to the Activity Lead for further review and publication, or the Proxy may submit the Activity directly to the portal for moderation once all required fields are complete.

As an administrator you'll have access to Proxied Activities from Administration | Internal | Activities. Since administrators have access to all activities it's important that each Proxied Activity is started and submitted by only one account. We highly recommend that administrators interact only with the content that they create - which can easily be identified via the My Network dropdown.

If you are unsure of who owns a particular piece of content, you can confirm the owner via Administration | Internal | Activities.


Public Service

Public Service (also known as Outreach or Community Service) intends to serve a public purpose by providing expertise, resources, and services to or for community individuals, groups, organizations, and the public in general. While these organizations may invite, host, or participate in the activity, the primary source of expertise, delivery of content, and form of the activity is shaped by the academic institution which is providing services and expertise to others.



Reciprocity is the recognition, respect, and valuing of the knowledge, perspective, and resources that each partner contributes to the collaboration. This is achieved through an exchange of knowledge and/or expertise between community and institutional partners throughout the activity, and through a sense of equity and fairness in the level of effort and contribution each party contributes to the shared work.



Track is accessible via your Member Home and provides a centralized view of your submissions and contributions within Collaboratory. Listed below are the following tabs located on Track.

  • My Content: My Content shows all of the content that you Add or create. From My Content, you can view, submit, edit, or send the content to the Vault. Content can also be filtered by type.
  • My Submissions: My Submissions shows the content you contributed or that you completed as a Proxy on behalf of another Member.
  • My Vault: My Vault allows Members to see content that they archived. Members can view the content or restore it.

As you contribute content for approval, you can view and track its progress here in a single, concise view.



Units are the organizational structures that comprise your institution:

  • Division: An institution's highest organizational level (e.g., Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Financial Affairs). They are comprised of other institutional Units - such as colleges, schools, offices, co-curricular units, etc. - which generally manage and host community engagement and public service activities.
  • College/School: These units are the highest organizing level within a division dedicated to Academic Affairs or Programs. They are comprised of academic departments and programs, centers/institutes, and other supporting institutional units.
  • Academic departments/program: A teaching or interdisciplinary unit with a faculty which performs the regular duties of instruction, research, and service.
  • Office: An administrative or co-curricular entity that provides support and programs to the academic core of the institution. These are typically service-learning offices, provost's/chancellor's offices, offices within Student Affairs, offices within Research and Economic Development, etc.
  • Center/institute: Interdisciplinary programs typically involving faculty, students, and staff from various academic departments or other structural units. Often a center's or institute's activities involve the general public or public agencies.
  • Co-Curricular: Programs, services, or groups that complement curricular activities, and facilitate intellectual, emotional, social, and moral development in students. Examples may include formally recognized student organizations, Greek life, or athletic teams.
  • Clinic: Specialty services facilities within the institution that are offered to the general public. Services often focus on healthcare, mental health, counseling and consulting, education, clinical research, and/or practice training.
  • Museum: Permanent cultural, artistic, historical, or scientific exhibitions within the institution that are made available to the general public.
  • Network/coalition: Often formed around a common theme, such as STEM education, children and families, or violence prevention.

Units may be nested to reflect hierarchical relationships (for example, 9 departments, 3 offices, and 1 center report to a Division).

Units are set up by Administrators and are made available to faculty and staff in Collaboratory. They have publicly visible landing pages that automatically aggregate and share activities, courses, and collaborators that are affiliated with that Unit.

Key Facts:

  • Any Unit an Admin creates (including colleges/schools, which are likely created as divisions) will have a landing page created for it.
  • A Unit landing page will only appear publicly in the Search once that Unit has been affiliated with an active, published Activity.
  • The Activities that appear on a Unit landing page will reflect where a Member has identified that Unit specifically as a Campus Partner on step 2 of the Activity edit flow
  • There isn't a nested view to reflect the hierarchical organizational structure that is set up using the reports to field on the Unit Form.
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