There are many ways for members to communicate with each other both on the Teachers Network site as well as off. On-site methods include both direct (private) as well as indirect (public) methods. Off-site methods include instant messaging, social networking, and electronic mail.
This How-To guide is meant as an introduction to member messaging and not an exhaustive covering of all features and capabilities. It is assumed that many of the more common features are intuitive enough that extensive documentation is not required. Features and configuration of related Teachers Network applications are covered in separate How-To Guides. Finally, this guide (as are most) are written with screen images taken from a computer desktop web environment. The Teachers Network site has been designed to work across devices of all sizes and the display will vary as the size changes. All functions described below work across device dimensions although do not always display exactly as shown below.
Private messaging is the direct exchange of messages between two or more people on the Teachers Network site. Every member has their own private messaging mailbox on the site where messages between members are received and read. Messages sent to other members are delivered to their private messaging mailbox.
To send a private message to another member, go to their member home page. You should see something similar to:
Under the header image (or placeholder if one has not been uploaded) click on the PRIVATE MESSAGE button. In this example clicking here will bring up a page to send a message to Bart Simpson (not a real member – just a test account). The message will be composed in the account of the logged in member (not Bart) and look similar to :
This screen prompts for the member name to send to (already filled in, but can be changed), the message Subject and then displays the rich text editor to create your message. Be sure to include a Subject or your message may not get the attention it deserves by the recipient. When done composing your message simply click on the SEND button to deliver the message. The RESET button can be used to clear the message in case you want to start over again.
After clicking on the SEND button, the message will be delivered to the recipient, and your screen will be redirected to your Sent Messages. You should see a screen similar to the following:
After the message is sent, the recipient (Bart in this case) will receive a Notification in his member status display and the unread message count in his home area will be incremented. If email notifications are enabled (this is the default setting) a short message will be sent to their registered email account informing them of your message (see below).
Receiving and Replying to Messages
When a new message is received, three potential actions take place. The first two take place within the member area and include an email notification message and an increment to both the notification and unread message counters. If the member has email notifications enabled (this is the default configuration) a short email notification message will also be sent to the member. Please note that we are considering removing the on-site notification messages in the future as they are considered redundant with the unread message counter.
Member Notification Message
Members are sent special notification type messages for a variety of reasons on the site. One is when a private message has been received. This notification is displayed in two places:
In the image above the member status block is updated in red to indicate Notify (1). At the same time the Notifications count in the member navigation bar has been updated to indicate one unread notification message. Both of these indicators are links to the actual notification message. To display, simply click on either and a screen similar to the following will come up:
This is a list of your Unread notification messages. To view any older notification messages just click on the Read link at the top of the list. To to read a given message click on the notification title and you will be taken to the specified message. To remove a notification message click on the X button in the Actions column.
Member Email Notification Message
If member email notifications are enabled a short email notification message will be sent to the member registered email address. The message will appear similar to the following:
To disable the sending of this message go to Settings -> Email -> Messages in your member area and disable the entry and save. See the How-To Guide Account Settings for a more detailed description.
Reading Private Member Messages
You can get to your private messages several ways. If you are viewing your notifications (see above) just click on the message you wish to see. You can also click on the Messages link in the member notification bar (there should be a numeric unread messages indicator present) or on the Messages link in the member status block. After clicking on any of these links you will be taken to the private message list and should see a screen similar to the following:
This will list your private messaging INBOX in the middle of the screen and on the bottom a preview of the selected message. To delete the message click on the X icon. To view the entire conversation or to reply click on the green conversation icon (next to the X and star icons). You should see a screen similar to the following:
This brings up the rich text editor where you can compose your reply. When you are done just click on the SEND REPLY button to send your message.
Public messages can be sent to your own activity stream or any group you have access to. When the member name (in the format ‘@membername’) is included, the message will be posted to the designated activity stream (your own profile stream or a group stream) and the member notified. They then can either ignore the message, reply privately, or reply to the profile or group activity stream directly.
Post to Profile Activity Stream
The easiest way to post a public message directed to a specific member is to go to their member home page and click on the PUBLIC MESSAGE button under the profile header image. This will bring you to a page that should look similar to the following:
Enter the message you wish to send in the text box. Be sure to leave the @username in the message so the other member (Bart in this case) knows it is written for them. You can attach gallery objects (images, audio and video) by clicking on the appropriate icon under the text box. When you are done click on POST UPDATE to append the message to your Activity timeline. If you check your Activity stream you should see something similar to the following at the head of the timeline:
Similar to the Private Messages described above, both on-site notifications and email notifications (if enabled) will be sent to Bart to let them know they were mentioned in a public message, with a link to the public message.
Post to Group Activity Stream
Posting to a Group Activity stream is almost the same as posting to your member activity stream. The only difference is when preparing the message, instead of selecting the default Post in: Profile, select Post in: Group instead. This will bring up an additional selection box where you indicate which group you want to post in. As you type the system will try to match the available groups and provide a short list of names you can choose from.
After selecting the group, prepare the message just the same as for posting on your own activity stream and click on POST UPDATE to send the message. Message notifications work exactly the same as for posting public messages on your own activity stream.
Most areas of the site optionally allow for members to comment. Teachers Network was designed for member created content and collaboration so it is natural that options for commenting exist almost everywhere. This includes galleries, forums, activity streams, blogs and documents. Anywhere a comment block is found you can provide your feedback. An example of a comment block on a member gallery image:
Depending on the application the reply options can range from a simple text box as above to a full rich-text editor. The inclusion of a reply capability for a given piece of content is usually up to the original content creator. Most site applications allow the original author to turn on and off comments, and also to control who can comment (friends, group members, logged in users, etc). The methods for controlling permissions are specific to each of the Teachers Network applications and are outside the scope of this document. For more information on specific applications, please check out the How-To Guides and site support forums.
Instant Messaging Apps, Social Networking, and Electronic Mail
The discussion of ways for members to communicate up until this point has focused exclusively on tools provided within the Teachers Site itself and does not include any member to member communication outside of the site. There are of course many other ways people communicate across the Internet including Instant Messaging Applications (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and others), Social Networking sites (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram just to name a few) and electronic mail (both free web based solutions as well as private). At the time of this writing, the Teachers Network site does not facilitate the exchange of messages between members on the site and any external systems other than member notification messages. Depending on member feedback we may consider one or more external connections in the future, but none are actively being planned.
With that said, while we do not encourage external communication between members, we also do not discourage it. It is important however to realize that there are risks associated with making external account information public. Anytime you publicize the existence of other accounts, it can put them at risk of being exploited by people or organizations other than whom you intend. Email address for instance which are advertised to the world can be harvested and used by spammers and other criminal elements along with those who you actually want to reach. Similar intrusions are possible with leaked identity information regarding instant messaging and other social networking accounts.
The risks associated with providing personal contact information to the world is why Teachers Network by default does not divulge any information of this type at all. We realize however that networking and communicating with peers, both existing and potential, is a huge reason many of our members are here. If you wish to advertise your contact information, there are several places in the member profile area where specific information can be kept (email addresses, company info, website addresses, social networking connections, etc). If you choose to make your contact details public, please do be aware however of the potential risks so you can make the deliberate decision if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. More information on how to configure your member profile for this information can be found in the How-To Guide Account Settings.