using dgroups in all its features

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DCommunities webinar series

25 March 2015Using Dgroups in all its featuresHello and welcome everybody to this first Dgroups Communities Webinar, organized by Dgroups with ECDPM and Euforic Services.

Today we will be discussing about Using Dgroups in all its features.

1Meet the facilitation team My name is Pier Andrea Pirani and Im very happy to be your host and presenter today.

Together with me in the facilitation team are Lucie Lamoureux and Ivan Kulis. Lucie will be managing chat while Ivan is our technical host for the session. So in case you experience any technical issue, you can get in touch with him, also using Skype as a back channel.2Why DCommunities webinar series?Response to Dgroups partners request

Engaging members requires care, skills and time

Pilot - 3 free webinars to learn Dgroups platformOnline community building basicsFacilitation tips and tricksWhy are we doing this pilot webinar series?

Its a response to Dgroups partners demand to support their admins and users to use the platform at his full potential.

Setting up a community its easy - But engaging members requires care, skills and time.

So together with ECDPM weve planned this pilot series of 3 webinars that will help users to understand the ins and outs of the dgroups platform, learn the basics for online community building, from planning to design to animation, and finally some key tips and tricks that are at the heart of online facilitation.

3Todays programme 90 minutesFor todays webinar, well start with brief introduction about Dgroups and the terminology well use, to make sure were all on the same page and understand what were talking about.

Then well cover few key things about using email for moderating discussions, and few other useful things that you may want to know as administrator, to support your users in making the most out the dgroups email.

Finally, well spend the most of the webinar looking at what you can do with the website of your Dgroups community as this is the part of the system that is less used by moderators and administrators.

Well have a Q&A session after each presentation block, when well open up the floor for your contribution. However, if you have questions during the presentation, please record it in the public chat so we can start with those questions during the Q&A.4Dgroups isDgroups means (at least) three different things:1. Partnership of development organisations, striving for international development and social justice2. web based platform, with email at the core and as killer app3. Global public good, inclusive and free to individual users, hosting a family of discussion groups on international development So lets look at these three things more in details.5Dgroups partnership

Starting in 2002 as a joint project between IICD, is established as Dgroups Foundation in 2009 in the Netherlands.

It now counts 21 partners between full partners, whose logos youre seeing in the slide, and associate partners. Members are all development organisations: international, bilateral, think tanks, NGOs, private sector

The membership is diverse - some of the founding members are still involved and actively support the platform. New organizations have been joining over the years. In 2014, 6 new organizations joined as Full or Associate Dgroups Partners [THET; UNCDF; The Broker Online; Enda Energie; Euforic Services; Access Agriculture]6Dgroups platform Key data700+ active communities

150,000+ active users, working inInternational & intergovernmental organizationsGovernment agenciesNational and international NGOsICT- and knowledge focused institutesInterested individualsProfessional groups

400,000+ email messages delivered each day over 50% of emails exchanged with & within African countries

Heres some key figures about the Dgroups platform, to give you a sense of its scale. Im not going to spend a lot of time on this slide but you can see for yourself that the volume of users and traffic is quite significant.7Dgroups platform Key featuresSimpleMultilingualFlexible and scalableNon commercialRespectful of privacyTargeted at low bandwidth users in the SouthHosted, maintained and developed by WA-Research in Switzerland

What are the key features of the Dgroups platform?Simple - e-mail-based communication is the core of Dgroups; email forums have been shown to be more effective, more dynamic and more useful to users than web-based tools such as web-based forums and wiki (eg KM4Dev study showed 73% Dgroups vs 13% Ning); extremely low learning curveMultilingual - User interface available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian Flexible and scalable Well see this in details in the course of this webinar, for example how to: customize individual profile, customize email delivery preferences, use basic stats and usage reports, use custom tools (calendar, library, members page, discussions), Open/closed groups, Public/private discussions, Custom home pages, RSS and API Non commercial - No advertisements. Members pay the annual fee to cover hosting, maintenance and development costsRespectful of privacy - Data and information are not sold to third parties, Content belongs to users, Members own the platformLow-bandwidth - designed and developed to perform in low-bandwidth environment, email as core, light web interface - essential and functional8Dgroups as a global public goodDgroups make platform available to actors across the development sector

Dgroups hosts a large 'family' of discussion groups related to international developmentDgroups partners support Dgroups as a global public good, making it available to actors across the development sector

The strength of Dgroups is to hosts a large 'family' of discussion groups related to international development9Key concepts Email and webOk so this was a bit of background about Dgroups, lets now look at the key concepts so were all clear on what well talk about today

The Dgroups platform combines email and web space. In other words, each community created on Dgroups has a unique email address and a related web space hosted at

Email is the core technology and killer app; every user can contribute to a community simply by sending email. This is the most inclusive way of participating in an online community, because every one has an email and theres no learning curve. It just works.

But the system also offers you a web space where you can see the archive of the discussions, see members profiles, define settings etc

[Optional: So lets do a quick poll here how many of you are using the webspace of your communities] 10Key concepts CommunitiesCommunity (or group) Members + content (discussions and resources)Unique email address and web address ( name = email subject prefix [groupname]Moderated, unmoderated, invisible to other system users, invitation only

A bit of termonology here you may have this already clear but I guess it may be useful for some participants a quick recap

So community or group indicates the combination of members and content

Each community has a unique email address and related web address.

The short name of a community is included in the email prefix- and this is very handy to quickly recognize in your mailbox the messages coming from Dgroups.

Each community can be moderated, unmoderatedetc so very flexible, as we saw before.11Key concepts- Hierarchy Parent and sub-communitiesurl

Membership goes up-stream

Administration goes downstream

The system allows you to create parent and sub communities. The hierarchy is determined and organized through the url, in that a sub community will include in its url the parent community.

In terms of membership, when you add a member to a sub community, this will also be automatically added to the parent community, so you can have general messages circulated through the parent community, and more specific conversations in the different sub-communities

Administration works the other way around, so an administrator in a parent community is also administrator in the sub-communities created under it.12Key concepts Users, members and adminsFew more concepts.

So whos a Dgroups users? Everyone with a profile on the platform.

A member is instead a user that has access to a group so he/she can post content to the group

Finally, an admin is a member that has full control on a group - Can add content, invite or add members, moderate messages, change groups settings.

OK, lets stop here for now and open the floor for Q&A. Im going to change the layout of the virtual room and Id like to pass over to Lucie to see if we have any questions we should take from the chat. Otherwise, please raise your hand if you would like to have the floor and ask your question, or share your comment.

13Your turn now!

B. Working with email

So lets start al looking at email how to moderate messages, key email commands you have to know as group admin and user, and few other tips and tricks that hopefully are new to you and will help you in managing your group and the flow of messages.15Email moderation

As we said, in dgroups, all can be done via email. If you have a moderated group, as the one in the image here, and you are a moderator, youll receive an Action Requiredemail to approve each contribution posted to the group even your own contributions.

So from the email you can approve or reject the contribution, reply directly to the sender or preview the contribution online (more on this last point later on).