Joule Social offers an environment where all institutional users can choose to befriend each other, communicate, join groups together, or create new ad-hoc groups. Community tools allow users to share links, multimedia, status updates, blogs, forums, and questions and answers.
Joule Social supports collaboration, networking, crowd-sourced knowledge, and ad-hoc groups. Every learner can also participate as an informal teacher.
While Joule Social benefits a community of students, it also supports communities of alumni, parents, and other constituencies who desire to connect and learn from each other.
Open-source Moodle was designed as a tool to support Social Constructionism. Martin Dougiamas, Moodle's founder and lead developer, followed these tenants in the creation of Moodle:
Joule Social was designed by rethinking these same tenants through the lens of contemporary social networking, rather than through the lens of a traditional LMS. We see Joule Social as a powerful companion to the LMS – a place where informal learning can be fostered and celebrated.
Joule Social can be used in a variety of ways:
Users can enter the Joule Social environment by clicking the link within the Joule Social block.
The community "stream" allows you to see aggregated activity within your community of friends and groups. When you befriend someone in Joule Social, their activities are added to your community stream. When you join a group, those activities are also shown on the community stream. When you are in a Joule course, the recent course activity is added to the stream as well. This aggregation of activity and updates makes staying connected much easier, because you do not have to visit every person, group or course in order to view activities.
If you do not want to see evidence of all activities for groups or friends, you can click the filter (funnel shaped) icon in order to filter out streams.
Identify which content and streams you want to view by checking them appropriately. Click the Update button to confirm your decision.
As your community grows, these filters will help you focus on your favorite things.
If you want to add an activity to the stream, you can type a status update in the stream box.
If you want to attach items to your post, click on the appropriate icon. Attachment choices include:
If you want to cancel the attachment, click the Cancel button.
You will notice that the resulting post includes your icon (so that others can identify you), a time stamp and the ability for others to click on the Comment link to post a note about your post.
On the left side of the screen is a list of user information.
You can use this list to quickly navigate to different Joule Social activities within your profile.
To view friends, click the Friends link in the header navigation or in the User Information column.
Any of your existing friends will appear in this list.
To find a friend, click the Find People link. A list of people within the institution will appear.
Find the user that you want to add as a friend, hover the mouse over the corresponding wrench icon until it reveals two additional icons:
Click the Add Friend (silhouette shape with a plus sign) icon to make a friend request. If they choose to accept your request, a notification message will appear in the Notifications list.
Click the Mail (envelope) icon to send a message to that person.
When someone requests to be your friend, the request goes to their Notifications area. Click the Notifications icon to view all alerts.
Click the Accept link to add the person as a friend. Click the Decline link to ignore the request and remove the notification.
When you view your friend list or add friends (see above), you will see the people who are your current friends. Hover the mouse over the wrench icon until it reveals the additional icons:
Click the Remove friend (silhouette shape with a red X) to drop the user from your list.
Once a friend appears in your list, you can click on his or her name and visit their profile page.
A friend's profile page reveals everything about his or her activities. Click on the Actions link to view those activities.
One of the central concepts of Joule Social is that both people and groups offer "centers" of activities. Compared to other Web activities, people-based activities include personal updates, personal media albums, etc. (think Facebook). Meanwhile, groups are more like informal Web communities (think Ning), where users can share blogs, forums, etc. with a specific group. Rather than distinguish the activities of people and groups differently, we instead provide the same activities within both contexts.
To view groups, click the Groups link in the header navigation or in the User Information column.
Any existing groups will appear in this list.
Click on the Group Name link to visit the group.
The group page displays recent activity in the stream, as well as a list of group members.
Click on the Actions link to view all activities, sorted by activity type.
Click on the Edit Group Settings link to manage/edit the group settings.
To find a group, click the Find Groups link.
You will see a list of current and available groups.
After you have found the group you want to join, click the Join Group link.
Joining groups adds you to a smaller community of users. Some of those users may not be your formal friends.
Click the Groups link in the User Information column.
Identify the group you want to leave and hover the mouse over the wrench icon.
Hovering will reveal the Leave Group (silhouette with a red X) icon:
Clicking the icon will remove you from the group.
To create a group, click the Create Group link.
You will be asked for to provide the following information:
Next, a group leader needs to determine who will have access to join the group. The following three methods are available:
Save your changes to this new group by clicking the Create Group button at the bottom of the page.
Groups, like user profiles, offer a series of activities that are shared with the community of people belonging to the group.
Users can post status updates and attachments within the group's activities stream.
Users can click the Actions link to view group forums, media albums, answers or blogs. Likewise, users can view members of the group and send messages to individuals within the group.
If you are a group manager, you can re-visit the group's settings page by clicking the Action link and choosing Edit Group Settings option.
Alternately, when you want to return and make changes to the group settings, click the Groups link in the header navigation or in the User Information column. Find the group that you want to manage, hover the mouse over the wrench icon next to your selected group until it reveals the additional icons:
Click the Edit icon to navigate to the group management page, where you can change the group's name, description, image and access settings. Moreover, you will see a series of links to manage invitations, membership, ownership and (ultimately) whether the group should be deleted.
When you want to invite someone to a group (especially if group access is limited to Closed or Hidden), click the Invite link within the group management page.
You will then see a list of all your current friends. Select the friends (by checking the corresponding box) that you would like to invite to the group. Then click the Send Invitations button.
When you want to manage members of a group, click the Members link within the group management page.
You will be able to remove members from the group by clicking the Delete (red X) icon corresponding to their name. Additionally, by checking the Admin box, you can designate them as a manager/admin of the group.
When you want to resign as the owner of a group, click the Resign Ownership link within the group management page.
Click on a group member's name in order to designate that person as a new owner/manager/admin of the group.
Alternately, you may transfer management of a group through the following method:
When you want to delete a group, click the Delete link within the group management page.
Joule Social will present a warning and require confirmation prior to deleting the group.
To view your messages, click the Messages link in the User Information column.
The inbox contains all of your messages. Click on the message's subject line to read it and reply.
Mark a message for the trash by checking the corresponding box and clicking the Move to Trash button.
When you are reading a message, you can click on the author's name to visit his profile, post your own reply, or click the Close or Move to Trash buttons.
To write a new message, click the Compose link in the User Information column.
Messages can be sent to any of your friends. Begin typing their names to see them in the To Friend field. Add a subject, compose your message, and then click the Send Message button to send.
To view your media albums, click the Media Albums link in the User Information column.
Next, choose the album you want to view by clicking on its title. You may also edit or delete the album by clicking on the links.
Upon clicking on an album title, you will see all of the media within the album. You may also edit or delete the media by clicking on the links.
Click on individual items to see them alone.
On this page, you can view the number of comments and views as well as add your own comments. Further, clicking the navigation arrow will take you to the next item in the media album.
To create a new media album, click the Create Album link in the User Information column.
To add media to your album, click one of the three media buttons: photos (.jpg, .tif, .gif, .png), movies (.avi, .mov, .mp4, .wmv) and sounds (.mp3, .wma).
Prior to uploading the file, Joule Social will offer information about maximum file sizes and types, as well as require the user to claim authority to post the media items.
If you want to "community-source" answers to various questions, use the Answers activity. This system allows you and your friends to post various questions, then allow others to provide answers to them. Favorite (or most accurate) answers can be voted upon by the community.
Begin by clicking the Answers link in the User Information column.
Next, you can pose a new question to your community of friends by typing your question in the text box and clicking the green check mark button to post it.
Your questions will be added to a list that can be sorted by clicking the Most Recent Questions link. You may also sort by the Most Popular Questions, and Questions without Answers.
Your list of questions will indicate how many answers are associated with each. You will also know the time of last activity associated with each question.
Once questions have been raised, you can offer answers to them. You may also add comments to the question, offering contextual layers.
Within your answer, you can use text, photos, attachments and links to craft your response.
Example of an answer:
You may comment on someone's answer. Click on the Dialogue icon to start.
You can also vote for the answer you think is best. Click on the one of the three star icons. The three stars represent: Good answer, reasonable answer, and flawed answer.
Forums are activities that allow a deeper conversational flow then common Joule Social media comments.
To view forums, click the Forums link in the User Information column.
Forums are organized as a three-level system. First, you have a forum title, then you have a topic, then you have posts to that topic.
Click on a forum title to view its various topics.
Click on a topic to view its various discussion posts. Or you can click the green plus sign to add a topic or the red X to delete any checked topics.
Add a post by replying to a topic or an existing post. Discussion posts are displayed as nested conversations so that you can reply to individual posts.
Click on the folder icon in the forum bar to create a new forum. Give the new forum a name before clicking on the Submit button.
Users can navigate back to the main forum page by clicking on the Forums link in the breadcrumb nav. To go to a different forum, click on the Change Forum drop-down menu and select the forum you'd like to visit.
The author of a post can hover over the wrench icon of a post and see the following three options:
The owner of a forum can erase one or more forums by marking the corresponding forum, then clicking the Delete button.
The owner of a topic can erase one or more topics by marking the corresponding topic, then clicking the Delete button.
To view blogs, click the Blogs link in the User Information column.
A list of current blogs will appear in the center of the screen. You will be able to see, at a glance, the number of comments and views per post. Click on the Comments link to view or make comments.
Click on the title of the blog to see its full length. Note the ability to add photos to your blog posts.
The new blog will require a title, and could include an image attachment. The body of the post is composed using a WYSIWYG HTML editor, which allows users to toggle between WYSIWYG view and source code view, depending on their preferences.
Click on the Browse Blogs link to see a list of most recent blogs from the entire community (not limited to your friend community). Click on the title of the blog to see its full length.
Click on the Group Blogs link to see a list of most recent blogs from your groups.
By browsing blogs, it is possible to learn about interesting writers on the site who may be potential friends.
Numerous actions within Joule Social send notifications to the user. These are available by clicking on the Notifications icon, which looks like an exclamation point in an orange circle. A red number will appear on the icon to indicate you have the many new notifications waiting.
You will be prompted to accept actions or dismiss them. Notifications will disappear from the list only when you click on one of their links (e.g. to Read or Dismiss).
An institution/organization can post news articles to Joule Social that appear one of two ways.
News articles that are marked as "featured" will appear in the top of the header. Clicking on the article title will open the article in the main page. Clicking the left and right arrow icons will scroll through the list of featured articles.
Click on the News link in the User Information column to view the news summary in the main page.
The News summary is a quick view of the featured and regular articles on the site. Click on article titles for the full story. Some articles allow for commenting or voting.
Note: Only Joule Social managers can submit and curate the news articles.
Click on the Links icon in the header for a list of quick links for the organization.
Note: Only Joule Social managers can submit and curate the links.
Click on the Search (magnifying glass) icon in the header to search for keywords. You may filter your search to include the entire site, news, blogs, groups or users.
Search results will present summaries of matches. Click on the link within the summary to visit the source.
Along the footer of Joule Social is a bar that supports individual user chats, as well as chatrooms.
Clicking on the gear icon in the Chatbar opens some user options, such as setting an availability status and enabling/disabling sound and popup notifications of new chat messages.
Clicking on the Close (downward arrows) icon will collapse the long bar into a single chat icon.
Clicking on the Chatroom icon will open a panel of existing chats, as well as provide the ability to create new chats with friends.
Managers have a Manage Site link in their User Information column.
The Manage Site page provides six important tools:
When users type words that are on this list, the words will not appear on the page. Instead, regular users will have the words replaced by a line of asterisks. Further, the incident will automatically be sent to the Reported Content page (see below), so that a manager can respond appropriately.
Managers can create a list of quick links for the institution. They can also toggle whether the links are enabled or not. Links can be deleted, as necessary.
Managers can create news articles for the institution. They can toggle whether the articles use comments or ratings. The status of articles can be marked as "published" or "unpublished." Finally, managers can determine whether a news article should be "featured" prominently before the regular, standard news.
When users flag content throughout Joule Social, the reports are aggregated on this page. Moreover, if users write words that are censored, a report is also captured here.
The report results can be explored by clicking on the Subject (to navigate to the place where a dirty word was found, or to navigate to a post that was flagged as inappropriate).
Each report result indicates whether an action has been taken on it.
Managers can then delete reports after the corresponding issues are resolved.
The theme for Social can be changed by the managers on this page. The header can include either text or a logo image.
More than 17 stylesheet elements can be changed within this panel, including backgrounds, fonts, colors and buttons.
All of the activities in Social are modular and can be turned on or off with a toggle.
Activities can be turned off temporarily. When they are are enabled again, their data will still be present.
Joule Social managers can view all content – even content that has been deleted (deleted content is dimmed and a Delete notice is present in red letters).
Managers can also view all user profiles (even when a user has not been "friended") as well as view all groups (even hidden ones), even when they are not members.
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