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groups, Online Collaboration

Have you checked out groups on WebJunction lately?

By SharonS | October 26th, 2010 | 1 Comment

I’ve been putting Facebook’s new groups functionality through its paces this week for a non-work-related writing project. What I have noticed is that the improvements they have introduced are very similar to those we added to WebJunction groups functionality this summer. Since it occurred in July, you may have missed our announcement about it:

To help WebJunction members stay better connected around topics of shared interest, we’ve just rolled out some improvements to how Groups function. Those of you who are members or creators of groups on WebJunction should have received an email explaining some of these updates, but here’s the scoop for all.

Email notifications. For any group you join or currently belong to, you can now elect to receive an email alert when

  • new members join the group
  • new documents are added
  • new discussion threads are started.

You can choose to receive these alerts hourly, daily, weekly–or not at all.

Group administration: If you have created a group, you have now been designated as Group Admin. This role gives you the power to

  • edit your group (e.g., title or description)
  • remove members from your group
  • send an email to everyone in your group
  • delete your group.

Groups directory: This new directory lists all of the groups created on that particular WebJunction site, in alphabetical order and including the description and number of members in the group. If you use a state-specific version of WebJunction, you will want to check out both the directory on that site and the central WebJunction site. When signed into WebJunction, you can join or create a new group right from the directory. The directory also features the most recently created groups and spotlights a particular group to check out. You can still use search to find groups, regardless of where they were created, but we hope you enjoy browsing the directory.

The Groups User Guide has been updated to include the most current instructions for how to create, join, and manage groups. If you encounter any issues with groups, please contact support@webjunction.org.

With these new enhancements, we expect we’ll see even more innovative uses of the groups feature. We look forward to seeing you connect and collaborate using these free tools made available to all in libraryland.

I gotta say, for both WebJunction and Facebook, this is pretty cool. Before, it was difficult to know when something happened on your group unless you remembered to go look at the page. Now, you get an email. Before, you couldn’t easily send a message to everyone in the group: you had to compose a message by hand in your email program; now, you can send one out with little effort. And, it was hard to find groups before, since they don’t appear in the navigation menus. Now there is a whole page dedicated to a directory of groups (plus you can use Search to find them too). Finally, as a group administrator, you are now better equipped to manage the content and members of your group page.

Granted, this is really complex functionality and we haven’t gotten it all figured out (ahem, nor has Facebook, I must say!). But, for your library-related group projects, we’d love you to try creating a WebJunction group to bring everyone and their content together on the same page. We’ve seen some great examples of groups in action, but with 62,000 members, we think there is room for more!

For more tips on how to use groups and other features of WebJunction, I’d like to suggest you view the archived webinar How to Make the Most of WebJunction, during which Jennifer and I take you on a tour of the site through the eyes of a librarian working on readers advisory.

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