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Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

When should I post something as a Discussion/Online Doc/File or something else?


Keep in mind that there's no one "right" way to use the tools in Connect. That said, here are some guidelines we've heard work well for groups.



 Discussions - Are you posting something to get feedback about an idea? Do you have some news to share or some other item that others might want to ask a question about? If yes, post a Discussion Thread in a Discussion Forum. If you're not sure which Group Heading to use, put it in "General News & Discussion" or click on the "Add Heading" link in the list of Group Headings in the left-hand column to create an appropriate subject heading for your content.

Start a Discussion thread when you want to:

  • Get feedback about something
  • Post some news that others might want to comment on or ask questions about
  • Brainstorm ideas


Online Docs - Think of these as wiki pages or Google Docs. This is the only type of content everyone in the group can edit directly on the screen without first downloading a file, making changes, and then re-uploading a new version. You can even see revisions ("track changes") to see what changed from version to version. Another good name for these might be "collaborative documents."

Use an Online Doc when you want to:

  • Post an agenda or minutes that anyone in the group can edit right on the screen
  • Collaobratively work on a report or other document
  • Track the revision history of changes made to a document the group is working on


 Files - Just want to upload a PDF, Excel spreadsheet, or Word document? Use the "Files" tool to organize those files into folders, just like you would on your computer. File size is limited to 20MB, but you can add almost any type of file.


Use Files when you want to:

  • Upload a single file, such as a PDF, Excel spreadsheet, Powerpoint presentation, etc.



 Polls - Use this when you want to ask the group a single question with multiple choices. Group members will be able to vote to select one of the options from your list of choices. A good way to use polls is to take official board votes because you can see the final outcome and how each person voted. Note that polls aren't like surveys, so there's no fill-in-the-blank or ranking option.

Use a Poll when you want to:

  • Take a board vote on a particular proposal or issue
  • Let group members indicate a single choice from a list of options
  • Ask group members to vote for their favorite choice



 Events - Each of your groups has its own calendar where any group member can add an event such as a meeting or deadline. You can also download Connect calendar events to your Outlook/Google/ics-based calendar.


Create an Event when you want to:

  • Put something on the group's calendar
  • Let group members download the event to their Outlook/Google/iCal calendars


 Pictures - Formerly known as "images," pictures are a good way to display an individual picture. Think of your "Pictures" area as an image gallery. If you just have a logo you want group members to be able to download, you might want to upload it as a "File" instead. If you want someone to be able to see the image itself on the page, upload it as a "Picture."

Post a Picture when you want to:

  • Publish an image that you want group members to see on the screen, rather than asking them to download it first.




 Chats - There's nothing fancy about chats, but that's one of their selling points. Your group's chat rooms allow for synchronous, text-based chat to discuss whatever you want to discuss. There's no video, no extra software to download, no audio to set up ahead of time, but you do get an automatic transcript you can archive for future reference. Only your group's members can join in the chat.

Start a Chat session when you want to:

  • Get everybody together at the same time in a chat room to have a meeting
  • Let group members take advantage of "office hours" or community time to ask questions or discuss specific topics


Rebecca Schreiner (non-member)'s picture

I am organizing files around in my committee's ALA Connect page.  But every time I put something into a file, it appears in the News and Discussion section on the landing page of the committee site so now I have a long list of files of minutes, agendas, etc. that I only want to be in the "files" folders.  How do I stop every file I'm moving around from appearing as a "new" document in the General News and Discussion?

Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

Hi, Rebecca --

I answered part of this question on your first comment, but every piece of content uploaded needs to be associated with a group heading or in your case, a file folder name. If you use the "Add a heading" link in the left-hand column, you can create better headings for what you're uploading and select them instead of "General News and Discussion." You can also create headings by entering a folder name when uploading a file (folder name = heading).

If you need more detailed help, please feel free to contact me directly at jlevine [at] ala.org.