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How To: Use Groups

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A Verizon Thinkfinity Community group is an excellent way to connect with colleagues at your school, educators within your state, or community members with a common interest.

 

Groups can be created by any member on any topic. Since this community is primarily focused on education and technology, we are hoping your groups will address one or both of these topics. We also encourage teachers to create a group that is solely for one or more of their classes.

Table of Contents

 

Finding a Group

 

Select Browse All > Groups in the gold navigation bar, and use the search filters to locate a group that interests you.

 

Joining a Group

 

Groups can be open to everyone, open to members only, private, or secret. To join a group:

 

  1. Locate a group that interests you.
  2. Select Join this group from the Actions sidebar.
    Note: In open groups, you will immediately appear as a member on the Members tab. In members only or private groups, the owner of the group will need to approve you as a member.
  3. Confirm your action and choose whether or not to receive email notifications when someone posts to your group. Remember, you can always edit your email preferences at a later date.

 

join_group.jpg

 

Starting a Group

 

Before you start a group, it is a good idea to see if there is a group already created that meets your needs. Select Browse All > Groups in the gold navigation bar and search our listings using key words that describe the kind of group you are interested in starting. If there is no such group available and you wish to start your own group, select the light grey Create New Group button in the right column. From the gold navigation bar, you can also select Create New > Group.

 

When you start a group, you will want to invite friends to join you, begin Discussions, and upload Documents. We ask that group owners be willing to actively maintain their group by answering members' questions and posting fresh content. Visit your group frequently to answer questions and post new material.

 

When you start a group, a Community Host will contact you to answer any questions you may have.

 

Types of Groups

 

Depending on the purpose of your group, you may wish to limit membership. There are four types of groups, listed below.

  • Open: Membership is open and non-members can view content and post.
  • Members Only: Membership is open and non-members can view content, but must join the group to participate.
  • Private: Membership is by approval/invite only and only members can view the content and participate.
  • Secret: Membership is by invite only, only members can view the content and participate, and the group is not listed in the Groups directory.

In order to change the type of group, select Edit group details under the Manage sidebar. Scroll down to group type and select the best choice for your group.

 

Attracting Group Members

 

Some ways to increase membership in your group include:

  • Select Invite people to join this group in the Actions menu within your group, to ask others to join.
  • Choose a group name and post a group description to help communicate your group interests.
  • Post an appropriate, copyright friendly image that represents your group.
  • Enter appropriate tags to help others find your group easily.
  • Link to your group in your replies to related Discussions around the Community.

 

invite_people_group.jpg

Tagging Groups

 

In order to help members locate resources of interest to them, make sure to tag your group as well as your blog and discussion posts.

 

Keywords

  • Select keywords, or tags, that represent your group, discussion or blog post.
  • Place an underscore between words that belong together, example 21st_century
  • When deciding on keywords, think about what words people might use to search for your group, discussion or blog post.

 

Changing Your Group Tags

  • On the right side of your group page, select Edit group details under the Manage sidebar.
  • Select tags that represent your groups or that others may use to search for your group.

 

Adding an Image to Represent Your Group

 

Adding an image that represents your group is a good way to get people's attention as they browse the groups within the community. We highly recommend that you use copyright free images. Copyright free images can be found on various sites. Pics4Learning.com is a great one.

 

Once you have selected and downloaded an image, follow these directions:

  1. Open your group's main page.
  2. Select Edit group details under Manage in the right navigation pane.
  3. Scroll down about halfway, until you see the Image section.
  4. Use the "browse" button to locate and select an image stored on your computer, click "open"
  5. The image should appear as the current image.

 

Posting Group Announcements (Create a Blog)

 

We have found that blog posts are a great way to make announcements within groups. Just follow these directions:

  1. From the main group page, select the Overview tab, then select the customize link. Note: If you do not see this link, contact the owner of the group to get permissions to make changes to the overview page.
  2. From the light blue Widgets menu, choose Content, > Recent Blog Posts. Drag the green Drag to Add button into your page layout.
  3. In your page layout, select the small grey box at the top right of your new Recent Blog Posts widget. Select Edit this widget. We have found these edits to be helpful:
    • Change the Custom Title to Announcements.

    • Change Show Full Content to No. Note: This will ensure that only headlines appear.

    • Change Show Legacy Blog Mappngs to No.

    • Select Save Properites.

    • Important: In the light blue Widgets menu, select Publish Layout.

  4. Consider these additional tips.

      • Tip 1: Advise your group members to select the "Receive email notifications" on the blog page so they get an automatic email with every post. Please note: Every time you edit a blog post, a new email will be sent. To avoid email overload, be sure your post is final before you select Publish!

      • Tip 2: Note that the blog posts appear in the widget in reverse chronological order (the latest post shows at the top of the widget.) To rearrange this order, you can back-date a blog post. At the bottom of your blog post, select Extended options, and set an earlier publish date/time to make it show up in the order you want.

    blog_tab.jpg
    Facilitating Virtual Discussions

     

    As the group owner, you want to facilitate and monitor group discussions. Here are some tips that may be helpful to you:

    • Provide a "Virtual Coffee House" or "Lounge Area" for participants to get to know each other.
    • Provide guidelines for discussions and remind participants that if the group is Public, the information is searchable on the web.
    • Do not just post, "good idea" or "nice job" in discussions. Add to the conversation.
    • Respect your own ideas and opinions, and express them. However, also be respectful of others' opinions.
    • Post to discussions regularly to maintain your own interest and involvement and that of your members.
    • Follow basic rules of Netiquette.

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