Requesting help with help pages
December 9, 2020 at 10:54 am #8691
Hello OpenLab team,
A graduate student working with me, Stephon, has been working to build help pages for faculty and students who want to use OpenLab (we’re really still in a pilot phase of use–it’s not advertised widely). We just discovered an entire section in the admin area (“help” and “help glossary”) that we didn’t realize existed and we’re wondering if there are admin resources for setting up help pages. If no resources are available for this, would it possible to set up a time to discuss via zoom so we can show what we’ve done (it’s all been done in pages, I’m ashamed to admit) and ask questions about what we should be doing?
-MaryDecember 9, 2020 at 10:58 am #8692
We have the same issue and we would love to get in on the reply!
Also sharing this link; Ed asked something related recently and did get some assistance and make some progress:December 9, 2020 at 11:17 am #8694Ed BeckParticipant
One of the things I learned from my exploration of the help pages was that City Tech uses a couple extra plugins on their server that seem to be required to make the OpenLab Help pages work properly.
For example. We couldn’t get the help pages to show up in the same order in the body and in the sidebar.
Later Bree comments on that thread:
<div>Just to follow up on Charlie’s message, these are the plugins we use for City Tech OpenLab Help:</div>
- Ambrosite Next/Previous Post Link Plus – for next/back navigation
- Category Order and Taxonomy Terms Order – to determine the order of categories (which are used for the sidebar menu)
<div>And I’m happy to answer any other questions I can!</div>
<div>What we decided to do at Oneonta was to create a project site, and manage our help pages as a separate subdomain. This is what my intern Jade came up with this semester:</div>
<div>We were happy that we could find a theme that was created for a knowledge base, and that we could build and elaborate from there.</div>December 10, 2020 at 9:36 am #8696
Thank you, Ed and Syelle! This is very helpful. I’ll share our process in case it helps others. We started with a subsite (a project within OpenLab–Stephon taught himself what a new user would need by being a new user and noting all of his questions). We then realized that the help system on the main page might be better and tried to replicate what CityTech has in place. Stephon did this by creating pages in our admin dashboard and then struggled to figure out how to make them navigable in the same way as CityTech’s site. We discovered the “Help” section only after that task was underway. I think what you’re both saying is that even if we were to recreate those pages within the “Help” section of the admin area, we’d still need to add plugins to make it work as it does on the CityTech site (and even then, it might not work?). Since we’ve already poured considerable time into this, what I’m dreaming of is a zoom call where we can show what we have and get recommendations on the simplest path forward. I’m very happy to share our mess and we could even record it to share with others. If you’d like to join, Syelle and Ed, I’d be delighted. An impromptu OpenLab workshop via zoom?December 10, 2020 at 9:44 am #8697GregParticipant
I’d like very much to attend the above-referenced zoom call regarding help screens whenever scheduled. Thanks!December 10, 2020 at 1:22 pm #8698
Ed, actually, we had already gotten that plugin info Bree. Those plugins are sort of the least of our Help issues….
Mary and Greg, yes me too: If there is a Zoom call, *please* let my team attend!December 10, 2020 at 6:21 pm #8699Charlie EdwardsMember
Thanks for this discussion! As we mentioned in the other thread the City Tech OpenLab’s Help relies on customizations that don’t exist in CBOX OpenLab. (Unfortunately, creation of member-facing help was out of scope when CBOX OpenLab was developed.)
We really like Ed’s approach of using a standalone site with a knowledge base theme, and we’d like to pursue something like this for CBOX OpenLab. Fortunately, we have just received our award letter (today!) for the CUNY OER funds I mentioned in the other thread. This will allow us to do two main things: a) create a site export/import tool so we can share content across installations and b) build a Community Hub for CBOX OpenLab – i.e. a CBOX OpenLab for CBOX OpenLab-ies such as you! 🙂 The idea is to create a more robust community space where people can share their experiences, discuss best practice uses, try out new features, and collaborate on projects.
We are now thinking to put these two things together to tackle Help – i.e. build out a Help site following Ed’s approach on the Community Hub (if you are willing, perhaps even with your help!). We would then be able to export that site as a nice package so that others can import it and tailor it for use in their own OpenLabs.
Of course, the above solution relies on work we haven’t yet done, so it will take some time to put in place – i.e. it doesn’t help you right now. So, in the meantime, it seems like a great idea to have a conversation about the most productive way for you to move forward (plus this larger project). We would obviously love to be part of the discussion!! The only issue is that the calendar isn’t our friend: next week is tricky and the following week is right before the holidays, so not sure what everyone’s availability will be?
CharlieDecember 10, 2020 at 6:43 pm #8700
This is all very exciting–congratulations on the funding! We are not in a rush, so a meeting in the new year would work for our needs. We need a help system in place by May, so we have time to collaborate with you on a help site that could be imported and further customized for our installation. Stephon and I have had many conversations about our needs for such a site, so if you’d like the perspective of CBOX OpenLab-ies who are not IT/instructional designers, we’re happy to be involved.
Many thanks for all you do. The instructors who are piloting OpenLab in their courses this semester (myself included) are reporting great experiences!
-MaryDecember 10, 2020 at 6:49 pm #8701Charlie EdwardsMember
Thanks so much, Mary – something in the new year would definitely be easier to wrangle. We would love to hear from you and Stephon – and are so happy to hear that you and your colleagues are enjoying using the OpenLab!!January 4, 2021 at 9:53 am #8740
Hi Mary et al.,
I just wanted to let you know that our integrated cbox ol Help system has suddenly started working for us. Chris and I suspect the last update (to 1.2.3) may have triggered it working, but we can’t be sure.
It seems we we don’t need the Ambrosite Next/Previous Post Plus plugin because the cbox help system has “back” and “next” links built in.
For the ordering issue that Bree mentioned, our help does not show in a list in the sidebar, so we did not install the Category Order and Taxonomy Terms Order plugin either.
However, I did need to re-order the list of help docs in the main web page, so I used the Simple Custom Post Order plugin.
Mary, I think you wanted to know the basics of how to set it up, so here are the steps:
We finally figured out that you create Help a category and assign it to Help pages. Then, we put the main Help category we created in our main menu. At that link, the system automatically generates a sidebar with a list of our help categories, a search box, and a tag cloud. To get that sidebar to show properly, we went to db > appearance > menus and created a menu called “Help Menu.” We put nothing in the menu itself, but when we assigned the new menu to the menu location “Help Menu,” the sidebar was automated (though I know it sounds a bit circular!).
Because I had used Google docs when the help system seemed not to be working, I embedded the Google docs in the Help pages for now, to save us time.
It’s a small work in progress, but anyone is welcome to use it; each Google doc comes with a link where you can download the doc, and, a lot of the docs have been forked from CityTech (all such docs are attributed to them with the cc license at the bottom): https://openlab.bmcc.cuny.edu/blog/help/help-category/help/
Mary, I don’t know much, but I’m available to show you what I can, if you like, by email or Zoom–let me know!January 5, 2021 at 12:22 pm #8754
Thank you, Syelle! This is incredibly helpful. We will try this out and be in touch if questions emerge. I really appreciate you reaching out.
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