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The Commons displays Forum Posts in chronological order, with the most recent post at the bottom. Most often when you reply to a post, it is right above yours or perhaps only one or two before that. There are times, however, when it is handy to reply to an old post. When this happens, it helps to refer back to the old post, which you can do by “quoting it.” Simply find the post that you need to reply to and click the quote link as shown below.

Linking social media profiles to groups

Social and you know it? If you’re an admin, you can link your group to your non-Commons social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Flickr, YouTube and Delicious! You’ll find these option in your group Manage tabs under Social Media Accounts:

SM

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t need to “log on” to the Commons to respond to group email notifications.  Participate in group discussions by simply clicking Reply in your email client.  Our plugin Reply By Email takes care of the rest!

Respond to personal messages in the same way, and in both cases, you can attach files, and those files will be available to your group or friend.

You can even post a new topic via email.  Make sure you send from the email address shown in your Commons settings and use the group’s quick link appended by “@groups.commons.gc.cuny.edu.”  For example, if the group’s quick link is cuny.is/omeka, post your topic to:  “cuny.is/omeka@groups.commons.gc.cuny.edu”.  The  subject line will become the new topic’s title. Depending upon your group’s email settings, your new topic can trigger notifications to group members.

A Few Caveats

  • When you receive a Commons email notification, you’ll notice the phrase “— Reply ABOVE THIS LINE to add a comment —“ (circled in red, above). Anything you type above this line will be part of the message posted to the forum, while everything below this line will be ignored But it is vital that the line itself be present in the reply. Reply By Email uses this info to route your reply back to the Commons. (Depending on your email client, when you hit reply, you might see additional address information added. Don’t worry – this will not be part of your response.)
  • You must reply using the same email address at which you received the notification – Reply By Email uses this as a way of matching you up with your Commons username. (Not an issue for most people, but it may affect those who have set up their email client with multiple email addresses.)
  • You can use Reply by Email to reply to discussion threads on group forums, to personal messages and @mentions, and to group announcements.
  • Attachments are allowed for group forum emails.  To attach a file, use the familiar method provided by your email client.  Our attachment size limit is 3MB. Keep in mind that you cannot attach files for daily or weekly group digest emails.
    You can also tell if attachments are allowed by checking the email footer:
  • You cannot use Reply by Email to reply to notification “digests,” Docs notifications (new docs, edited docs, new comments), group file uploads, group invites, or friendship requests.

See here for further technical details.

cal_5374200948_539b10fb1c_m Events Calendar is a site-wide plugin that supports individual, group, and global calendars. Designed to publicize events to the friends you’ve developed on the Commons and to the groups you belong to (and which you choose to notify), the plugin delivers email notifications about events with vital information, including:

  • Event title
  • A rich description, that allows for links, images, etc.
  • Start and end times
  • Venue (including a map)
  • Whether or not this is a recurring event
  • Commons groups who have been invited

The information is also conveniently aggregated with other Commons events and displayed on individual, group, and global calendars. You can browse through your individual calendar, or look through your groups’ calendars to find events, and click to see details.

  • As an individual, you can check out your personal calendar to see all events targeted for the groups to which you belong, and the events that have been entered by your friends.
  • As a group member, you can access your group’s calendar to find events specifically targeted to your group.
  • As a member of the Commons, you can (soon) access the global calendar and see what events are happening in public groups.

my events

Accessing Your Individual Calendar

There are several ways to access your individual calendar once you are logged into the Commons.

  • Hover over your avatar in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Here you will see a new option called “My Events” (pictured at the right).
  • You can also visit your “Commons Profile.” Here you will see a new tab called “My Events.”

When you click on “My Events>>Calendar” you will see events entered by you, your friends, or by members of groups to which you belong. The calendar grid provides a convenient way to plan your schedule.

my cal

If you click on the “Upcoming Events” tab you’ll see a more condensed view, displayed as a list. No matter which view you choose, you can click on each event for its metadata.

upcoming

The “Manage” tab is useful when you have events that are in draft, and that you have not yet published.

Accessing Group Calendars

omekaGroup calendars can be accessed from a new tab in the group menu called “Events” (see image on the right). Group calendars are different from individual calendars in that they display events to which they are specifically targeted.

If you click on “ New Event” from inside your group, the event you enter will be automatically added to your group new groupcalendar.  But don’t stop there.  You can add other groups that you think will be interested in the event you are publicizing.   You can add public, private and hidden groups, provided you belong to them.  And as stated before, the members of these groups will be notified by email, and events will display on their individual and group calendars.

Understanding Privacy

  • Your personal calendar is discrete from everyone else’s and is private to you.
  • Events you enter from your personal calendar are visible to your friends on the Commons. They will be notified by email upon publication.
  • When creating an individual event, you can target the groups you belong to.
  • If the only group your choose is private or hidden, only those members will be notified.
  • If you post from a private or hidden group, no trace of the event will display except on the calendars of those belonging to those private or hidden groups.
  • If you include a public group, those members will be notified, and the event will be added to the group.
  • All “Public” group events will be viewable on the global calendar, but notification emails will not be sent to everyone on the Commons.

Adding Events to Your Commons Personal or Group Calendar via the iCalendar API

The Commons Events Calendar is compatible with other iCalendar APIs. This means that you can either:

  • bring specific events into your group’s calendar via an “ics” file,
  • subscribe to another compatible calendar and add all its current and future events.

If using a group calendar only group admins can add events via this interface.

Adding To Your Personal Calendar

In your Commons Portfolio, click on Events:

Click on “Manage.”

Adding To Your Group Calendar

This option is only available to admins of the group. Click on the Events tab on the group sidebar.

Then click on “Manage.”

Managing Your Calendar

From this point, interface for personal calendars and group calendars is the same. You have the option to either import a specific event from a downloaded “.ics”file or to subscribe to a calendar “feed.” See below:

 

Adding Events to your personal iCal, Google, MS Outlook, or similar third party iCalendar APIs

If you use Apple iCal, Google Calendar, MS Outlook, or a similar iCalendar API, you can automatically add an individual event from your Commons calendars.  Click on the event to add it by clicking the “Download iCal file” hyperlink (highlighted below).  It will be added to your third party calendar.

Alternatively, if you would like to synchronize your third party calendar with your Commons calendar or your group’s Commons calendar, you can “Subscribe.” Scroll down to the bottom of the calendar and find the Subscribe section, pictured below:

This example is from an individual member who belongs to both public and private groups. If it was a group calendar, only one link would be available.

It is important to note that if you click on the subscribe hyperlink, you will only get the events that are currently in the calendar.

Depending on your needs, it might be better to synchronize your third-party calendar.

Synchronizing Your Third Party Calendar

Instead of clicking on the hyperlink, hover over the link and copy the URL and then paste it in the appropriate place in your third-party’s calendar. Each API is different.

Apple iCal

  1. Open Calendar API
  2. click on File>>New Calendar Subscription
  3. paste in URL
  4. Adjust settings as needed

Google Calendar

  1.  Open Google Calendar
  2. Click on Other calendars
  3. Click on From URL and paste in the URL

Please Note that Google Calendar sometimes takes up to 24 hours to refresh

 

 

Site-Wide Calendar

The Commons site-wide calendar is a great way to see what’s happening all over CUNY.  It shows events added to public groups, but will not display events only associated to private or hidden groups. You can access from the Commons home page, on the “Events” tab or at https://commons.gc.cuny.edu/events/

 

There are hundreds of groups on the Commons, and you’ll probably want to join a bunch. For public groups, when you click the join button, membership is immediate. For private groups, you’ll need to ask to join, and the admins of the group will need to approve your membership. There are also hidden groups on the Commons, and to join these, you’ll need to receive and accept an invitation.

So What Next?

If you are new to the Commons, you might wonder about groups and their purposes. Some are very very casual, and have sporadic activity. Other “working” groups are very active, and many members share information and collaborate on projects. Here are some examples of how groups are used on the Commons:

  • Department or program administration. For example, The College of Staten Island English Department has a private group with a private blog that facilitates communication between faculty, students, and staff members.
  • Committees. Groups on the Commons provide fantastic ways to share files, minutes, organize meetings, discuss plans, and collaborate on projects.
  • Conduct graduate classes. Group forums are a great place to bounce around ideas, discuss issues, and post class announcements. Private group blogs can be used to publish syllabi and post writing assignments and course reflections. Class members can work collaboratively on projects using Docs feature. Check out the Digital Praxis Seminar for an example.
  • Projects. ePortfolios @SPS – a private working group and group blog for the “Connect to Learning at SPS” project)
  • Conferences/events/seminars. Plan, organize and advertise upcoming group events.

Group Tools

group optionsThere is a lot more to groups than the group forum. Here is a quick review of all the tools that are available to group members:

  • On your group’s Home page, below its summary statement and avatar is the group activity stream, a rich log with links to everything that’s happened in the group – new members, new forum topics, replies to discussion threads, announcements, etc. Browse the group’s Activity Stream to stay current with your groups news. (If your group subscribes to any external RSS feeds, that content will appear here as well.)
  • The Announcements page lists all the announcements posted by the group’s admins and moderators.
  • If your group has a group blog, you can access it via the Blog tab. Read and post to the Group Blog. (This option will not appear if your group does not have a blog.) For more info, see Groups and Groups Blogs.
  • The Files page lets you upload and share files. Members can upload files to the group site, and make them available to everyone. By default, group members are notified when a file is uploaded, but you can choose “Silent Upload” and not disturb your colleagues if you are making some small changes to a file or if it is not ready to be reviewed by the whole group. For more info, see Working with Group Files.
  • Read and contribute to the forum. As a member, you can start new topics and comment on existing threads. By default, you are notified by email when other members post to the forum, and you can either reply by email to the thread, or click on the link embedded in the email, and log into the Commons to reply. These two options make it extremely easy to participate in a discussion. You also have the option to start new topics in one of two ways. You can log into the Commons or you can send and email to the Commons.
  • Collaborate with other members using Docs. You can think of Docs as your group’s private wiki. It has granular privacy settings which allow subgroups to work together and collaborate confidentially, and keeps a record of changes. Docs can be tagged and grouped hierarchically. (Docs can be enabled or disabled by your group admin – if you want this functionality and don’t see it, ask your group admin to enable it.)
  • Find out who is in your group by clicking the Members tab.
  • Send Invites to your colleagues to join your group. (Invited members need to be members of the Commons.)
  • Configure your email notifications with Email Options page. tab provides access to your notification settings. For more see Managing Privacy on the Commons.

The Commons’ powerful email notification system lets members of a group know when other members post content. Used in conjunction with a group blog, it lets you set up a nice place to share content and get feedback.

Read More About Group Email Notification Settings

Each time a member does something in a group, such as join the group, add an item to the Group Library or the add a topic or reply to a topic in the Discussion Forum, the action is added to the Group Activity stream and an email notification is generated.

Individual members of the group can choose how to “read” the particular group, that is, when should they be notified (if at all) when some activity takes place. Some settings are available on the group level, others pertain to all the groups a member belongs.

How Do You Want To “Read” This Group

Members can easily control how they get group email notifications. Go to your group, and click on Email options tab, highlighted below.

This same setting can be changed from the Group Page – you will see the current way you are reading the group and you can simply click on the “Change” button to switch to another of the five options.

Additionally, you can select what kind of activity you want to be notified about. This applies to all groups to which you belong.

To do this, go to your Commons Profile, and click on Settings, or simply hover over profile photo and select My Settings>>Notifications.  Here you can also set  Email Subscription Options (see above), on a group level.

 

Since the model presented below involves group blogs, here’s a quick look at what they are.

Group sites are not appropriate for every group, but for many, they can provide a platform for members to post ideas, embed media, announce events, and aggregate category and tag based content.

The Group and Group Site Model

So here’s how a group admin might use a group site to make a space where members can create content, and read and comment on each other’s work:

  • The group admin creates a group and attaches group blog
  • When members join the group, they are automatically signed up as authors on the group blog
  • They write and publish posts
  • Each time a post is published, an email notification is sent out to the group
  • Members click on the link, read the post, and can comment

Members of course still use the discussion forum, and each time they post to the forum, a notification is sent out. For these they can reply by email, without even logging into the Commons. (See “Reply by Email.”) Members can use BP Docs to collaborate on projects, and similarly, when a major edit occurs, members are notified by email.

This pedagogical model is often used on the Commons to teach courses: students join a group with their classmates. The group has a private site attached to it, and they are automatically added as users to the site. They do their assignments as blog posts. Whenever a student publishes a post, an excerpt automatically shows up on the group’s activity stream, and each group member is notified by email (depending upon their notification settings), that one of their peers has posted some content. If the content is a site post, they can click on the link, read the rest of the post, and comment. If the content is a forum post, they can read it in its entirety, and reply by email, from the comfort of their inbox.

 

The following instructions pertain to an existing group. You can create a Connected Group + Site in one action. See How To Create A Connection Group + Site.

A group admin can connect one site (aka, a “website”) to a group.   On the group home page, and click “Manage” to display the group’s settings.  Then click on “Group Site link. Check the box next to “enable group site”:

Decide to start a new site or connect an existing one to your group. Enable member posting if you want your group members to be authors on the blog. You will also be asked to set WordPress roles for administrators, moderators and members.

Click “Save Changes” and the “Site” link should now appear on the left navigation area of the group.

 

The URL is now confirmed, and you also have the option to uncouple the site whenever you want.