Tools in ALAConnect and how we use them
Below is a summary of the tools on this site and a brief assessment of how we have used them. Below that are suggestions for how we might make better use of them.
Posts - like a blog post, this tool was probably meant for one-off topics, announcements, quick questions, etc. Good uses of this have been our brief discussions of the submission of names for the ALA group on Digital Content, sharing and posting information from Committees, and posting information such as reports or proposals from other groups. Each post can have any number of comments left by group members, and posts can have documents attached to them.
Online Docs - Like a word-processing document in Google Docs, or like a wiki page, this is a collaborative tool. When creating an online doc, we put the content on which we want to collaborate into the Body area, then all group members can edit. Anyone can comment, anyone can include attachments. To date, we have used this capability only to post attachments (i.e., to share documents, not to collaborate on them).
Discussions - Simply put, a place for organized, threaded discussions among members. As of now, we have one "Forum" - General Discussion, to which any of us can start "Discussions." Currently there are many threads inside our General Discussion. Group Admins (LITA Staff, possibly Colleen?) could create new "Forums" here, if we needed.
Calendar - self-explanatory. We don't seem to use it much?
Polls/Votes - we have used this several times. Comments on a poll can serve as discussion; a poll serves as a Board vote.
Files - this is a place where files can be posted for download by others. Files can be organized into folders. We don't use this, either.
I would recommend that we:
- Post announcements only to "posts."
- Create other "Forums" in which to create related discussion threads ("2011 - 2012 Board votes" or "Budget Task Force," for example)
- Use "Files" for distributing documents prior to meetings, organized by folder
- Use "Online docs" for collaborative writing. We could have used it for our "Guiding Principles," or the three Task Force people could use it for our groups' mission statments/charges. (I seem to remember there being an issue with permissions; we will have to work with Jenny Levine to get this working as it should, if so).
- Polls - we've done pretty good with this one. :)
- Calendar - I'm not sure we have a use for this, unless we want to make it the LITA master calendar (Aaron?) and put *everything* in it.
I also recommend that we create a folder in Files to put the Board orientation stuff and any other things that we want incoming people to have, including perhaps a "Connect Best Practices" for our group. :)