Staying in touch - communications as a key to project success

Communication is critical component of a successful education project, yet maintaining open lines of communication with project stakeholders and growing your community can be challenging and time consuming.  Fortunately, QUBES has a variety of built-in tools and mechanism that help you stay connected and use communication to build community around your project.  Over the next month, our conversations in the QUBES Support Community for Partner Projects will focus on communications as a key to project success.       

QUBES Staff Picks: Our favorite ways to use QUBES to communicate

To kick off this series, we’ve asked members of the QUBES Leadership team, “What is your favorite way to use QUBES to communicate?”  Follow along this month as they share a variety of ways to use the QUBES infrastructure to communicate along with some tips and tricks for using communications for building your community.  

Quick Links Page    Project Activity Feeds


Quick Links Page:

A way to assemble your group's frequently used links and info in one easy to find place

Quick Links pages - these are a page that has all the relevant links and other information that the group needs in one place. 

I have seen these used in a variety of contexts including project working groups (NIBLSE RRC), FMNs, Team QUBES, etc.) These have been really useful because it can be pretty confusing to navigate around the various tools and places where information is stored within a group. This provides a single go to spot where everything is accessible. There is often some replication of links to tools that are listed in the normal menus but somehow it is still easier to find it on a well formatted page (see the image to the right).  

I like the way that buttons can be used to create new discussion posts from a quick links page. 

The trick is to "train" the community to go to the quick links page to find what they need. — Sam Donovan


    Get a template to create a Quick Links Page in your group!     

Tell us how your project uses QUBES to communicate and ask questions in the group forum.  


Project Activity Feeds:
An effective communication tool for collaborative groups

Partner Projects generally make most of the information in their groups publicly accessible in order to raise awareness of their project, tell visitors how to get involved with the group, announce upcoming events and opportunities, and disseminate products and resources generated by the project community.  See Northwest Biosciences Consortium’s (NWBC) Partner Project site as an example.  

While a lot of the broader interactions with group members happens in these public spaces, lots of times, the real work gets done in Projects - you can think of it as a workspace within your group.  Projects are a great way for collaborative teams to organize their documents, manage their workflow, and streamline their communication.  Project membership can be restricted to specific group members and multiple projects can be created within a group, allowing for a flexible configuration of smaller, focused working groups to collaborate on different aspects of the larger project.  Projects can be used for a variety of collaborative efforts, such as preparing a grant proposal, collaborating on a research project, and much more.       

Each Project has a Files area to share and store files, a To Do list to organize tasks and responsibilities, and a Notes wiki that can be used to keep a wide variety of information (but is frequently used as a “Quick Links” page), and an Activity Feed that provides a stream of updates about activity within a project.  Learn more about project features here.  Of course, staying in touch is really important when you are trying to get work done (this is a discussion of communications after all).  Below, hear from QUBES Staff, Hayley Orndorf and Drew LaMar, who describe why they like using Project Activity Feeds to communicate within collaborative groups and learn how to subscribe to project activity feeds.        

I really like the Project Activity Feeds for collaborative work, especially when working with your team at a distance. Projects can be set up as narrowly or broadly as you'd like, depending on the topic or working group. Also, membership can be controlled separately from associated group memberships, which can be nice. As to the project feeds themselves - I like that it is a public place to drop notes/updates and have deeper conversations if needed. 

There's an option to sign up for email notification - I have a filter/folder setup in my email to collect all project activity feeds. This really helps to keep conversations and collaborative work in a public space without losing the benefit of immediate notification from email. — Hayley Orndorf 


I want to second Hayley's "thumbs up" for project activity feeds, especially when used in conjunction with broader groups.  We really use projects as the places where "things get done".  An analogy that makes sense to me right now is working meetings.  Just as in a meeting where everyone gets together for a large group meeting, and then breaks up into smaller working groups, the group communication tools (like the Forum) are kinda like the large group meeting, and the projects can be where the smaller working groups go to communicate and work.  This is made possible by, as Hayley said, the control of membership that is allowed. — Drew LaMar

As Hayley and Drew mentioned, there are benefits to using Project Updates to communicate with your team, rather than relying solely on email communication.  The conversations that are relevant to the project are visible to all members of the project and collected and archived in one place, rather than being distributed across dozens (or hundreds?) of email threads scattered throughout your email inbox.  This makes it easier to find and reference previous conversations.  Plus, as Hayley mentioned, there is the option to sign up for email notifications, so you still get the benefit of receiving immediate notifications about project updates.  Learn how to subscribe to receive project activity feeds here.   

    Learn how to subscribe to receive project activity feeds here!     

Tell us how your project uses QUBES to communicate and ask questions in the group forum.