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myUMBC Groups-a-Go-Go

Almost on Schedule.... Like Any Good IT Project. 🙂

If you're reading this, the group works!

Thanks for taking a second to check out the myUMBC Fan Club group.  We're going to use this group as our way to stay connected to you UMBC community.

So What's Going On With myUMBC?

I'm glad you asked.  A lot.

First off, let me apologize for any inconvenience over the past few weeks as we had to turn some features of myUMBC off in order to upgrade them for the Fall.  The new myUMBC is about a bazillion times more complicated than the old one and we're trying to ensure that when students flood back in late August that everything is going to work smoothly.  We're still expecting a few hiccups, but we're working hard to minimize them.

We have an official launch window: Aug 14th - 15th.  Its called a window because we're going to try and do it on the 14th, but if things go wrong (and they will), it may take until the 15th to get things back up and running.

There is still a ton of things left to do, though. Until the start of the semester, every day or two we will try and push out new features, content and bug fixes.  If you run into any problems with the new myUMBC, let me know as soon as you can.  We'll try and get the bugs squashed ASAP.

What's This Groups Thing?

Groups are the biggest and most ambitious new feature of myUMBC.  They will hopefully provide a simple and easy way for the UMBC to connect and collaborate.  Groups can be used for student org advertising and planning, simple websites for organizations, or collaboration areas for committees.  We've purposefully made the tools in Groups simple and straightforward, because we don't need to be the best (there are plenty of tools online that are better at any given task), we just need to help the parts of the community that need help.  As the community uses Groups, we'll be paying attention and adding and modifying features in order to best meet UMBC's needs.

As I've mentioned, each group consists of a set of "tools" you can use:

  • Home - a simple page showcasing the latest content from your group
  • Spotlights - spotlights, but just for your group
  • News - a blog
  • Events - a calendar
  • Pages - a wiki

We've recently pushed out the two biggest (and most critical) tools of groups: Members and Discussions.

  • Members lets you manage the members of your group... that's all, but its kinda important.
  • Discussions lets you have discussions with your members.  Its like a forum, but with some added myUMBC mojo.  You can create three types of discussions:
    • General - talk about stuff in a free form discussion
    • Question - ask a question, then select one of the replies as an answer
    • Poll - ask a question and let people to vote on their preference
Going Public

An important function of groups is the ability to make your content "public". Any spotlight, news, event, discussion, media can be marked as public and will appear under their respective section of the Community menu.  This makes it easy for your group to advertise their content to the entire UMBC community.  Once content is made public, it can be pawed and commented on by anyone logged in to myUMBC.

So, if your group is planning an event, post it to your group calendar with tentative dates while you work out the details and when things are finalized, make it public, and then send your group members out to paw the event so it appears on the myUMBC Start page.

Coming Soon

We're now working on the last remaining parts of groups:

  • Media - Share the videos and photos you've posted on various sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr.
  • Categories - Allow you to categorize content within your group.  Think of them as Topics, but just for your group.
  • Subscriptions - Automatically pull in content from external sites, like Blogger or Tumblr via RSS.  You can also pull in content from other groups, which provides a great way for groups to work together to cross-advertise news and events.  You can even subscribe to YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr feeds and the images/videos appear in Media.

Thanks for everyone's understanding and support,


PS - The image is by one of my favorite artists, David Lanham.  I think it accurately represents what the past two years have felt like as we've worked on myUMBC.

Posted: July 31, 2010, 9:08 PM