I have been asked by many to share my Thinkfinity Community Tips and Tricks, selected from my online course Thinkfinity & Social Networking for Educators, with you in this public venue, the Help Center. I hope these suggestions will be of value to you, but feel free to reply to my posts with comments or questions.
Thinkfinity Community Manager
Tips and tricks 0: Do NOT use your email address as your community username.
Your username is how you are known in the community. While you may choose in your Profile to keep your full name or email address private, your username is always public, available to both members and non-members from your profile page. By using your email address as your username, you are making it public, and you may have an increase in spam (unsolicited email).
Members cannot edit their own usernames.
If you have accidentally entered your email address as your username when you registered, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let Thinkfinity Staff know what you would like your username changed to. We will be happy to assist you in making the change.
Note: Usernames must be a minimum of 6 characters, must start with a letter. Allowed characters are A-Z, a-z, 0-9, special characters (such as !#$%%), _, - (dash), and .(dot). You can NOT use spaces, and we advise against using the @ symbol.
One way for trainers to create a memorable username for the community is simply to use just the information before the @ in your email address.
Tips and tricks 1: Join a Group that interests you.
Select Browse > Places on the dark red navigation bar at the top of the page, and browse for groups with similar interests as your own. Alternately, select Places on the main navigation bar, and use the search filters to locate a group that interests you.
Found a group you would like to join, click on Join this group. This may place your profile in the Recently Joined listing so everyone can get to know you.
Once you have joined, the Join this group link changes to Leave this group. Now you know you can join and leave a group at will.
Here are two ways to keep important things on your radar: you can follow activity or track it. Following is for keeping up in a looser sense. Tracking is for crucial need-to-know.
Note: Selecting Follow in the group navigation bar will change the word to Following and updates (within this group) will appear in your stream. Now you know you can Follow (or select Following to turn off streaming) for a particular group.
Note: Selecting Actions > Track in Communications will change the words to Stop tracking and the item will be tracked in your Inbox, internal to the community.
More: Look under Actions for Receive email notifications link. Selecting this option to receive email notifications will send you an email every time someone posts in this group. Once Receive email notifications is selected, the link changes to Stop email notifications. Now you know you can start and stop email notifications at will in any group or community you may wish to follow closely for any given time.
Tips and tricks 3: Join your State Group
Are you looking for educators in your state to meet up with? Search by state name.
The State Groups are all Open groups so membership is optional; however, I think it would be a good idea to join the group so others may find you there.
Tips and tricks 4: I love Spell Check
As you venture out into the general community, you will want your discussion posts to look professional. Please remember to Spell Check your response right before you select Add Reply. You may be so glad you did.
Look for your Spell Check icon (the green checkmark next to abc) in the right corner of your Reply to textbox.
Note to some: You can even toggle your Spell check to eight languages from the drop down arrow beside the Spell Check icon.
Tips and tricks 5: Remember Who, not Where
Have you ever forgotten the location of a file, but remembered who worked on it? In the Thinkfinity Community, you can easily get to all of the content that someone has worked on. Just navigate to his/her profile and select the Content tab there. Then you can select the type of content, like Blog Posts, Documents, Discussions, or Polls.
Note: The general membership can NOT see your document if you have left visibility set to Just you, but you can Open it to anyone or Just specific people. The general membership can NOT see your bookmark if you have marked it Private. This is always a good idea for a favorite recipe or some resource not related to the professional focus of the community.
Tips and tricks 6: Your Reputation in Thinkfinity Community
All new members start with a status of New User. You can increase your reputation in the Thinkfinity Community by contributing in several different ways. One of the best ways to increase your reputation is by answering questions. When the member who asked the question marks your answer as helpful or correct, you get a boost in your reputation. Other ways to contribute are creating documents, publishing blog posts, and posting to a discussion. Your total number of points will increase by the following:
For more information, please read How To: Earn Points in the Verizon Thinkfinity Community, one of our many helpful documents in the Thinkfinity Community Help Center.
Tips and tricks 7: What else can you tell me about bookmarking favorite resources?
You may bookmark any website, document, or discussion that is useful to you. Your Bookmarks live within the Thinkfinity community.
I hope you have read the document, How To: Add add a Bookmark and know the three ways to save a bookmark in your space. In this document, you also learned that when bookmarking a personal website, you can mark it as Private. A personal site might be a recipe, travel information or favorite sports page that you want to keep but which is not an educational site for sharing within the Thinkfinity Community.
Why is there a cog wheel after each bookmark when you are looking at the Browse All > Favorite Resources list? Clicking on the cog wheel will allow you to Follow, Send as email, or save the Bookmark in your own list of Bookmarks. It also is interesting to note the # of Likes, # who have Bookmarked the resource, # of Replies to the bookmarked resource, and the # of Views of the favorite resource. These numbers can quickly tell you which resources others are finding of value.
Tips and tricks 8: How can I edit my Profile/Privacy Settings?
Your Thinkfinity Community Profile is all about you. Your profile can contain a short bio, pictures, and your recent activity. Through Privacy Settings you can decide how much information you share with the community.
Tip 2a: You set up your profile during the registration process, but you can always modify your information. Please read All About: Profiles and click on your name on the dark red navigation bar at the top of the page to locate your profile (select Actions > Edit profile & privacy) and make appropriate edits.
Tip 2b: Once you have your Profile set up the way you want, you will want to read Privacy Settings and establish your appropriate Privacy Settings.
Tips and tricks 9: Enhance your Profile
Your profile is your identity in the Thinkfinity Community. Your colleagues will go to it to learn about you, understand your expertise, and read content you have written. Make sure it is up to date. At a minimum, you should make sure to do the following:
Tips and tricks 10: Let people know what you are doing
Have you moused over people's avatars and, while reviewing a summary of their profile and seen their latest update, a chunk of information appears telling what they are doing? You may even click on the avatar and see that person's profile page to locate his/her personal update history.
Staying connected is as simple as posting short, quick messages (updates). Perhaps you may let everyone know you are "Training today" or "Attending a retreat." You can post a chunk of information as frequently as you want.
To create an update:
Tips and tricks 12: Get Notified
You can have Thinkfinity send you an email when content you care about is added or changed. This is an alternative to feeds, which require a feed aggregator.
To begin receiving email notifications, navigate to the content you care about - a discussion or blog, for example - and select Receive email notifications under the Actions menu. To stop receiving email notifications, select Stop email notifications.
Note: You can manage all of your email notifications by selecting Preferences under Personal Settings on the drop down menu next to your name (see tiny arrow).
Tips and tricks 13: Reply Using Email
If you subscribe to receive email notifications on any community content (check the Actions menu), you can NOT post a reply in the discussion simply by replying in your email client to the notification email.
For example, imagine you are subscribed to notifications on a discussion thread. When someone posts a reply to the discussion, you will receive an email about it. Replying to the email, typing your discussion reply just as you would type a reply to any email and sending it, will NOT work in the Thinkfinity Community. Replying this way to the email notification that you would like to respond to goes to a email@example.com and it does NOT appear in the Thinkfinity Community.
You will need to click on the View the Full Discussion link and log in to the community in order to respond to the discussion notification you received.
Tips and tricks 14: Help! How can I stop receiving so many email notifications?
A member wrote asking if there is a way to stop the influx of email messages that she is receiving. She simply cannot manage several dozen email messages a day coming into her work inbox. Do you have this problem?
Numerous email notifications can become a problem. First, there is a document in the Help Center called How To: Manage Email Notifications, compiled by our wonderful Community Hosts. This document warrants a careful read if you are wanting some serious control of your email notifications.
You can go to the email notifications in Preferences as described in the initial section of the document and set them all to "No." However, the settings there will only apply to content created going forward from the time you changed your settings. Any content previously set to receive notifications will remain unchanged, and you will continue to receive notifications on that content.
What to do?
Please read the section in the document on Removing Notifications for Specific Content. This should help!
After you have these under control, another thought is to choose in your Preferences to receive an email summary from the community. This step is described under the section in this document on General Email Preferences.
Email notifications is a wonderful feature, but it can get out of hand. I want you to be able to manage your own account and any email notifications to your satisfaction.
Tips and Tricks 15: How can I manage my Activity Stream?
Sign In and select Activity on left in the dark red navigation bar at the top of the page.
Your Activity page may look intimidating: select All Activity and you can see all the activity generated in the Thinkfinity Community. But as you continue working, you will start personalizing your stream. As you begin following people, places, and content, toggling to Followed Activity shows you only activity from the sources you follow.
Selecting Matters Most in the Followed Activity view allows Jive Genius to trim down your stream to relevant items in your followed stream.
At any time, you can click the Status Updates Only to catch up with status updates from the entire membership stream (if you are in All Activity) or your followed people (if you are in Followed Activity). This is a great way to see what other people in the community are excited about.
Another way to see what is happening in the community is to check out Trending Content and Trending People widgets in the right pane.
After you have been using the Thinkfinity Community for a while, Recommended For You (see right pane) can show you activity you might have missed based on its popularity and relevance to you and your interests. You can help the Recommender learn about what you want to see. If you see a useful recommendation, click Remove. If what you see is something you are not interested in, select Not interested.
How does the Recommender determine what shows might interest you?
There is an algorithm based on these three features:
Tips and Tricks 16: How can I add a link to my discussion, blog, or document?
Linking is one of the key elements that makes our website valuable. You can include links in anything you post in the Thinkfinity Community by highlighting the text you want to convert to a link and selecting the link button in the editor tools to activate the Link Picker.
The Link Picker gives you the power to link to any web address (URL), search for something in the Jive Community to link to on the All Content tab, or choose from your recent browsing history on the Browse History tab.
You also can link to documents using @mentioning. Just type an @ followed by some text to start searching for a document. For example, type @Weekly to bring up a picklist of documents with Weekly in the title.
Tips and Tricks 17: Make great resources colleagues have bookmarked your own.
Several Thinkfinity trainers conducting Professional Development sessions have tipped me off to a trick that many people are using to find terrific resources: they check to see what their friends have bookmarked, and save the ones they can use for themselves!
Here's one anecdote:
"I observed a group of California school teachers using the community to save resources that they were going to use the first month of school. There was one teacher who was finding resources quicker than his grade level team members. The other 5th grade teachers were so excited to see that they could just find the teacher’s profile from within the Community and “steal” all his cool resources and add them to their bookmark list. It saved the other teachers time.
The “fast clicker” didn’t seem to mind that they were “stealing” all his stuff because he was the “techie” guy in the group and his group members would have come to him anyway, asking for ideas. This also saved the “fast clicker” time because he didn’t have to help each of them individually. The helpful teacher also tagged his stuff with the school name so teachers in the school could search that way to find his resources."
—by Tammy Dewan
1. Find someone you think might have great resources bookmarked.
2. Click on their username to see their Profile.
3. Select the Bookmarks tab in their profile.
4. Select the cogwheel icon to bookmark the ones you like to your own space.
Tips and Tricks 18: Filter your search
Learn to filter your searches to easily quickly find what you need in Thinkfinity.