Groups Documentation

Groups Documentation Guide

Groups on the Oregon Educator Network (OEN) are a great way to organize and connect with educators who share an interest, have a common teaching assignment, or belong to an organization. OEN Groups also have a private setting that makes them perfect for professional development cohorts or professional learning communities to work collaboratively and discuss their learning.

Before you create a new group, you should have a plan for what purpose the group will serve and who the intended audience is. You should also be prepared to write a brief description to let others know the intended purpose and audience for the group.

It’s a good idea to do a couple of keyword searches in the groups section to see if someone has already created a group that serves the same purpose and audience as the group you want to create. For example, if you want to create a group for CTE teachers to connect, you might want to try searching for “CTE,” “Career,” and “Technical Education.” Look at the groups returned from your search to determine if any of them share the same intended purpose and audience that you are looking for. If so, join the group and start connecting! If not, it’s time to create a new group! Decide on a name that others will recognize as connected to your purpose and audience.

You will also need to decide on the settings for your group.

Public or Private

  • Public groups may be joined by anyone who is a member of OEN and the group content is viewable by anyone visiting the site.
  • Private groups require that members are added or approved by the group owner/facilitator and the group content is only viewable by members of the group.

Non-Facilitated or Facilitated

  • Non-Facilitated groups do not have a designated leader or facilitator. This setting is best for groups with no formal structure, such as networking groups.
  • Facilitated groups typically have a leader or facilitator who is responsible for organizing content for the group.

Optional Settings

Collaborative Workspace: This setting allows you to provide a link to a space outside of OEN. If your group will be collaborating on documents, you should decide on a platform such as Google Drive, OneDrive, or DropBox and prepare a folder for the group to share work. In order for others to access it, you will need to set permissions on the folder that allow the appropriate people to use this space.

Group Image: This is your opportunity to give your group some character! Choose a photo that either (a) you own the rights to and do not mind publicly sharing, or (b) is covered under a license that allows you to share, such as one of the Creative Commons open licenses. Images on OEN are displayed in a 4:3 aspect ratio. It is easiest to leave your photo uncropped and use the cropping tool on the photo uploader inside your OEN profile page.

Tagging your Group: Tags are important for making sure that searches on the site return the best results. Be as specific as you can, and only use the tags that are pertinent to your group. For example, let’s say that you’re creating a group intended to help special education teachers at all grade levels share literacy strategies. For the grade level tags, you would want to choose “spans all grade levels” but not check every box. For the content area tags, you would want to choose “special ed” and “reading.” This means that a search for any one of those tags would return your group.

Custom Tagging: The District/Organization field allows you to add a school district or an organization if there is one connected to the group. The Topics field allows you to add a more customized tag or topic that might help others find your group.

Step by Step Instructions to Create a New Group

  1. Go to the Groups section of OEN by clicking Groups on the home page or on the navigation bar from any page.
  2. Click the ADD NEW GROUP button on the right side of the page.
  3. Enter your Group's name in the Name field.
  4. Set Public or Private
  5. Set Non-Facilitated or Facilitated
  6. Add your description that lets others know the intended purpose and audience of the group.
  7. OPTIONAL:
    1. You may link to a collaborative workspace or other materials and resources on the web.
    2. If you have chosen a Facilitated group, you may set an additional link to materials on the web under the Course Link Title and URL fields. This is ideal for a group that is taking an online MOOC style course, or for any group that needs to direct their group's attention to another link on the web.
  8. Set your group image:
    1. Click Upload to use a photo saved on your computer. View the Image Editing Tips page for information about editing your photo or image to prepare for using it on the OEN.
    2. Click Remote URL to use an image located on the web.
    3. Click Select One to choose a photo from a library of photos available in OEN.
  9. Select the appropriate tags for your group. Remember to be as specific as possible and only select tags that are pertinent to your group.
  10. OPTIONAL:
    1. Add custom school district or organization tags, if applicable.
    2. Add custom topic tags, if applicable.
  11. Click save and you're finished setting up your group!

Editing Group Profile and Preferences

Click here to view video instructions for editing a group profile or preferences.

Settings and options on your group profile can be changed at any time by the group owner. This is helpful if you notice that was something was entered incorrectly, if you decide to make a change to how the group is used, or if the scope of your group needs to be narrowed or expanded.

Step by Step Instructions to Edit a Group
  1. Go to the Groups section of OEN by clicking Groups on the home page or on the navigation bar from any page.
  2. Click My Groups on the sub-navigation bar.
  3. Find the group you wish to edit and navigate to it.
  4. From your group's page, click Edit on the right side of the page.
  5. Scroll down to the field you wish to edit.
    1. Consider any other sections of the group profile that your edit may affect and make changes to these as well, if necessary.
    2. For example, if you wish to expand the scope of your group from a specific grade level to all elementary grade levels, you may also need to change your group's name and/or description in order to let others know.
  6. After you have made your changes, scroll to the bottom of the page and click save.

Group Member Management

As a group owner, you have the ability to add members, approve membership requests (for private groups), remove members, and designate group administrators. Understanding your options and how best to use them will help you more efficiently manage your group.

Adding members to your group

Click here to view video instructions for adding OEN members to your group using the group settings.

Before adding members to your group, it helps to understand the difference between public and private groups. Public groups can be viewed and joined by anyone on the OEN. When someone visits a public group, they do not join unless they click the Join Group button. Private groups can only be viewed by members. When someone tries to visit a private group page, they will receive a message telling them that only members can view the content and a link to request membership in the group.

There are a couple of ways to add members to your group. The first option is to send an email to everyone that you want to add with a link to the group and ask them to join. This allows each individual to decide to join the group. Tip: Along with the URL to your group page, it is best to ask them to click the “Join Group” button to become a member of the group. The second option is to add them through the Group settings. To add group members this way, they must already have accounts on the OEN. If you cannot find someone on the OEN, you will need to ask them to create an account before they can join your group. There are step by step instructions below to add group members through the Group settings.

Step by Step Instructions to Add an OEN Member to Your Group Using Group Settings

  1. Go to your group page.
  2. Click the "Group" button on the right side of the page.
  3. Click the "Add People" link.
  4. Type the full name of the person you would like to add in the "User name" field. As you type, the OEN will search for members with that name and a list of matching users will appear as a drop down below the field. When the correct person appears in the list, click their name.
  5. Click the "Add users" to add the person to the group.
    1. OPTIONAL: You may add a group member and give them an administrator role at the same time by checking the "administrator member" box below the "User name" field.
  6. You will see a green confirmation box at the top of the screen stating that the user you selected has been added to the group.

Approving Group Membership Requests

When someone finds your private group on the OEN and requests to join, you as the group owner or manager, will receive a notification of their request. There are step by step instructions below to approve these requests.

Step by Step Instructions to Approve Group Membership Requests

  1. From your group's page, click Group on the right side of the page.
  2. Click People.
  3. Check the box next to any names with Pending in the State column. Select all the names you would like to approve membership status.
  4. Above the list of names, select "Modify membership status" from the pull down menu, then click Execute.
  5. Select Active from the pull down menu, then click Next. (You may also block users from your group from this screen, if you ever find that necessary.)
  6. The OEN will provide a message showing you which members are being added to the group. If this information is correct, click Confirm. (Note that you may click Cancel at this point if the information is not correct.)

Adding Discussion Posts in a Group

Anyone who is a member of a group can start a discussion post or reply to disucssion posts. Discussions are a great way to connect with and get input from other educators.

Step by Step Instructions to Add a Discussion Post to a Group

  1. From your group's page, click the purple Start Discussion or Start Conversation button on the right side of the page.
  2. Add a title for your discussion post in the Title field.
  3. Type your discussion post into the Body field.
    1. You can use Markdown text to format your discussion post (see instructions below the Body field).
  4. OPTIONAL: You can attach documents to your post in the Attachments section. Click the "Choose file" button to attach a document to your post.
  5. OPTIONAL: If you are a group owner or administrator, you can use the "Make Sticky" checkbox to keep this post at the top of the discussion list (the post most recently marked "Make Sticky" will show up at the top of the list, posts previously marked will be displayed below it). If you are not a group owner or administrator, this option will not be available to you.
  6. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click save.