Using SERC Tools Effectively

Running a workshop, coordinating a working group, facilitating faculty professional development? This guide will help you choose wisely among the tools that SERC has to offer.

The Tools

E-Mail Lists

SERC Staff can set up a mailing list for people involved in your collaboration. By using an e-mail list you ensure that no-one is left out of the loop on important information and also have access to a web archive of past messages. SERC staff can set up an email list for you. You just need to provide a name and the email addresses of the initial members.

Project or Workshop Websites

Serckit allows folks running projects to easily create public websites to support their programs. The web-based editing system allows the site to be created on-the-fly by a distributed group of authors. An explicit separation between development and live versions of each site allows a simple site to be put up quickly and have it grow smoothly as the project progresses.

The SERC project page provides examples of a wide range of websites that have been built using Serckit.

Submission Forms

Websites can include familiar web-based forms where participants can respond to questions and upload files. The results can be viewed (and exported to spreadsheets) by project managers through an online queue. A set of standard forms for common situation are available and new forms can be created in collaboration with SERC staff.

Learn more about working with submission forms.

Mini-Collections and Search/Browse Pages

Mini-collections are sets of web pages that share a common format and where each page stands on its own. Common examples include collections of activities, course descriptions, or participant profiles. Often these collections are made accessible through a browse interface in a project or workshop website.

Serckit makes it possible to present a search and browse interface across sets of pages within a website . The tools allows the materials to be organized based on terms in a controlled vocabularies. Visitors can explore the collection using both full text search as well as browsing based on those vocabularies.

Learn more about Searchable Collections

Templated Pages

SERC has developed a number of standardized formats for sharing information about teaching activities, courses and datasets. The templating system ensure that contributors generate web pages in a consistent format designed to stimulate the author's thinking about their contribution as well as act as a strong resource for those learning from the web page.

Examples of the activity template, course template and a description of the datasheet template

From Form to Searchable Web Collection in Zero Steps

Project websites can include web forms that prompts contributors for the information needed to create a templated page such as a teaching activity (just follow the included instructions to fill in the blanks). After submitting the form submissions are automatically made into web pages which the contributor can immediately view and revise further. If an appropriate browse is set up these contributions can be available in a searchable mini-collection. Project coordinators can control when particular contributions are made public.

Example submission forms for activities, courses and profiles andguidance on how to get started


A workspace is a wiki area where participants can create and edit web pages directly from the web pages themselves. Based on the same tools as our regular website editing tools, workspaces expose the editing interface more directly and eliminate the development/live distinction to simplify collaborative editing for small group work. Workspaces can be made private and include a file archive for easily tracking files uploaded by the participants.

Guidance on using workspaces

Discussion Forums

Serckit includes a threaded discussion forum tool that allows you to embed a space for discussion directly into an existing web page. Discussions forums can be public or private and can allow files to attached to discussion posting. Discussions are structured around individual discussion threads each of which lives on it's own page and contains a single chronologically ordered stream of posts and replies. Groups of threads are reached through a thread spool which list all the individual threads, provides an interface for starting new threads and can be embedded directly in a web page in Serckit.

An example discussion space

References and Useful Links

Serckit has a number of tools for enhancing lists of references, both those in print and on the web, that are often an important element of project websites. Authors can draw on our existing catalog of resources and larger collections can be organized with controlled vocabularies and made searchable.

Getting Started with References in the CMS, an example hand-picked collection, and a searchable collection.

Choose which tools are right for your project

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