‘Groups’ Can Mean a Lot of Things

From the last post a few thoughts cropped up in the comments that I wanted to address before I move on to ‘Groups’.

First off, you’ll notice that Matt Gold dropped in to talk about Facebook comparisons and I thought there’s probably a good number of members who have no idea how the Commons works.  Not ‘works’ in the poetic sense, but in the day to day run of things and I thought I should take a moment here to talk about that.  Matt has the ominous identifier of @Admin.  Matt’s the designated ring leader here who is charged with the sometimes operose task of keeping things moving.  There are always updates to work on, people to reach out to and all sorts of snags to fix along the way. Matt directs the Development Team that handles the back of house issues made up of Boone Gorges @BooneBGorges and Chris Stein @CStein with our friend Andre Pitanga @APintanga at the Grad Center who makes sure our servers don’t explode.  Matt also oversees the Community Team made up of myself, Sarah Morgano @Sarah_Morgano , and our Wiki Wrangler Scott Voth @ScottVoth.  The Community Team is here to answer any questions you have, help you set up your blog or group and make sure we feel like a community.

The whole project is monitored by the Committee on Academic Technology with representatives from each school.

Clandestine meeting of the CAT.

Annual meeting of the Committee on Academic Technology.

Anyhow, seeing as this is a meta-blog on the Commons, I thought it’d be nice to introduce everyone.  I think we do a pretty good job of making ourselves available but in case you were wondering why I like to write the Footenotes rounds-ups each week, or who it was who writes all of the how-to blogs, now you know.

‘Groups’ is a feature we’re really proud of here.  Blogs can be entertaining and informative, but when it comes to connecting people and giving them a space to share documents and work on projects together ‘Groups’ is the perfect solution.  Meeting in person isn’t always practical and depending on size it can be impossible.  You’ll notice we have lots of groups here from small projects to big ones, but lately we’ve been trying to work with whole departments to get them set up on the Commons.  The Commons makes sense for departments across CUNY that have lots of information to share but a difficult time getting everyone together in the same place.  Often, with adjuncts’ schedules and staffs’ various professional commitments the only way to send out memos or make announcements is through email and office inboxes.  The problem with email and inboxes is that it’s a static environment.  Replying can be cumbersome, there are privacy issues, and there’s often no way of bringing suggestions to an entire department to get feedback.  The evolution of an idea in a group setting can be exciting and lead you to some places you didn’t expect.

Currently we’re working with the English Department from The College of Staten Island and the Program in Religion at Hunter College to set them up and support their work.  That being said, we don’t exactly have a protocol for bringing in groups.  In fact, we’re big fans of letting everyone learn as they go, with our support in case there are features people don’t understand or would specifically like built in.  The Do It Yourself ethos has always been about the discoveries you make in the mistakes as well as in the victories.  Bringing on an entire department requires a little more care though and from time to time here on Ground Control I’ll be checking in with both groups and sharing what we on the Commons staff learn in the process.  For every new group, or member, or blog we add we learn a little more about what this thing can do.


  1. Academic Commons News » What We Did Last Summer - August 27, 2010

    […] you might know from Brian’s ( @brianfoote ) excellent post on the Ground Control blog and from our About page, the CUNY Academic Commons is administered by several groups: The […]

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