Career Step’s Student Community | Forum Features

You may or may not be aware that Career Step recently updated our student and graduate online community site to provide a more attractive, intuitive, and social community experience. We think our student and graduate community is one of the best resources available to our student and alumni population.  Here are some of the features of the new community and ways to get the most out of it.

Basic Navigation
Our community has easy-to-use, intuitive navigation features. Let’s start with the Sign-In Bar.

The Sign-In Bar is the main quick-reference information center for your community profile and is visible from every page in the community.  Here you will see a few buttons and functions:

Quick Search: This quick search bar allows you to type a search term in while you are on any page in the community.  This is a basic search, so if you need to further refine your search, you can do so from the Search tab.

Alerts: You can set your notifications to give you an alert in community, or send you emails, depending on which you prefer. This button will turn pink when you have alerts waiting.

Dialogs: In our old community, these were called Private Messages. Private dialogs are your way to communicate privately with other members of our community. If you have a question for a member, but don’t want to ask it publicly, private dialogs are a great option. This button will turn pink when you receive a private dialog and will indicate the number of dialogs waiting for you.

Profile: To access your profile, hover over your picture with the gear next to it, and then click on your name. This will take you to your profile page. There you will find your Wall, your Activity Stream, and your Edit Profile functionality.

The Community Menu is the main navigation method in the community and always appears on each page. The tab you are currently on is highlighted in blue, so you always know where you are.

Home: This takes you to the community homepage where announcements are displayed, along with some community widgets for quick navigation.

Announcements: This tab is where all community announcements are collected.

Forums: This is where all of our community forums are.  You can click on Directory to go to an overview of all the categories. You can navigate to specific forum categories from the Directory, or from the jump list that appears when hovering your mouse over Forums.

Chat Events: This tab is where you find a directory of the active, upcoming, and past chat events. Chats are a great place to interact with instructors and other community members.  Open chats run 24 hours a day so you always have a place to pop in and chat with other students and graduates. Scheduled chats are more topic or program specific and usually last between 15 minutes to an hour.  They do not currently support the ability to see who is in the chat events, but that feature should be coming in an update in the next few months. For now, don’t be afraid to pop in and say hello. Someone else may be just waiting for you to ask the right question!

Career Step Blogs: This links you externally to our blogs, so you can read great blog posts from your instructors, the graduate support team, and other Career Step personnel.

Search: The Search tab has more detailed search features than the quick-search box on the Sign-In Bar. Here you can search the forums, chat archives, specific members’ posts, and much more.

Manage: Here you can manage your notifications and personal account settings.

Notable Features
We have a number of really cool widgets set up on our new community. These widgets make it easy to jump to topics of interest (Recent Comments, Topics, and Tags), quickly check your time zone against the community’s time zone, and look at Career Step’s RSS feed. More widgets will be added in the future.

Like This Topic
This is a great new feature many students and graduates have asked for. This feature allows you to simply “Like” a topic to follow it, or if you don’t need to make a comment but want to show your support. Your likes will appear in your activity stream.

Activity Stream
The activity stream is a new feature of this community.  Anytime you post, reply, or like a topic, it goes into this area on your Profile so you can quickly jump back to topics you have been interested in.

Member Walls
A member wall is a great place to post public content on someone’s profile. It is similar to the Facebook wall.  This feature is a great way to ask questions or make a public comment directly to someone without cluttering up a forum topic thread.  You can deactivate the wall in your Settings area if you don’t want to receive questions and comments this way.  Community members and moderators can search wall content at any time.

Member Snapshot
The member snapshot is a quick way to see information about another student or graduate in the community. Just click on the tiny person beside or below the member’s display name.  In the snapshot, you can follow the member, block the member, start a private dialog with them, or display all posts by them.  The tiny person will be yellow if the member is online, or grey if the member is offline.

Making the Most of this Community
– Read through the New? Read Me First forum. It provides some valuable information on our community’s features, policies and etiquette.

– Read the Terms of Service (link at the bottom of any page in the community). Our Terms of Service are in place to help all members of the community have a safe, enjoyable time.

– Configure your Settings, Notifications, and Profile. Click on Manage in the community menu. You can select your privacy settings and then click Update Settings to make the changes.  Next, click on Your Notifications. This will allow you to set how many emails and alerts you want to receive.  If you want to follow specific forums, scroll to the bottom of the notifications and click on Show All Forums, then check off the ones for the specific forums you are interested in.  Be sure to click the Update Notification Settings button when you are finished to save your changes.  Lastly, click on Update Profile. Here you can update your location information, display email, homepage URL, course progress (if you want to track that on the community), and your signature. Click Update Profile when you are finished.

– Be kind, friendly, and helpful to your fellow students and graduates when posting and chatting.  Kindness can go a long way in making study buddies, graduate contacts, and friends. If you are in the chat events, try to be as inclusive as possible with others. Different insights into a question, problem, or conversation may benefit you significantly. Some feel as though they can be less courteous when hiding behind the keys of a message board. Our community is meant to be a positive, informative, and fun place for all students and graduates to hang out. We firmly believe that anything can be discussed within the bounds of respect and courtesy. Our community moderators are committed to this. Our students and graduates are diverse and come from many backgrounds. We welcome you all!

– Don’t be afraid to ask questions to the moderators via private dialog if you are unsure how to navigate something or if you need assistance in any way. Our moderators are kind, fair, and approachable. They will help you in any way they can.

– Study groups have been formed in the MT/E Student Forum. They are called the Keep On Keepin’ On group and the Study Buddies Group. Please feel free to pop in and join in on one of those groups.  They are a good source of peer feedback and support.  Studying an online independent course can feel lonely at times. These groups are a great place to feel connected.

– The community contains a wealth of information about a variety of topics.  The search functionality turns this community into large database. If you aren’t sure about something, try searching it first to see if the answer has already been provided.

– Explore!  There are many features and areas not discussed here. Feel free to wander around in the community and discover them. If you ever think you might be lost, just click the Home tab and it will return you back to the main page.

We are excited to welcome you to the new community! We hope to see you all over there soon!

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