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Introduction to Connexions

Module by: Mark Husband. E-mail the author

Summary: An overview of Connexions, the Connexions home page, and navigation tools.

Overview

Connexions is a web-based document creation and management system for educational and research materials. There are two parts to Connexions: a content repository that contains these materials, and the software tools necessary to create, manage, and access these materials. The software underlying Connexions is called Rhaptos and was initially developed by the Connexions project specifically for Connexions.

From its inception, Connexions was designed to allow the collaborative development and free availability of material. Instructors and authors can modify this material for any educational purpose. Connexions offers free and open source software tools to help students, instructors, and authors manage these information assets for sharing and advancing knowledge to benefit the global educational community. All of this is accomplished through the use of the Creative Commons Attribution license.

There are several general categories of Connexions users:

  • Students - who use Connexions to access information on-line, to prepare for their classes.
  • Authors - who enter content into Connexions in document files called modules.
  • Instructors - who build collections, which are documents created by linking related modules together in a specific order.
  • Organizations - who endorse quality content, or highlight content affiliated with their organization, in a post-publication vetting system called lenses.
An individual or organization may, of course, fall into more than one of these categories.

The Connexions Home Page

The Connexions home page is the starting point for your use of Connexions. It contains the following items:

Some of these items also appear on the other Connexions web pages.
Figure 1: Connexions home page.
CNX homepage.

Home, Content, Lenses, About Us, Help, and MyCNX Tabs

On the upper left of the Connexions home page are tabs labeled Home, Content, Lenses, About Us, Help, and MyCNX. Clicking on these tabs display the following Connexions pages:

  • Home returns to the Connexions home page.
  • Content takes you to the Content landing page, where you can search for modules and collections of interest or browse the repository by subject, author, popularity and more.
  • Lenses is a portal to all user and organization-created lenses.
  • About displays the "About Us" page that contains a general description of Connexions and links to more detailed information about Connexions, how it works, ways to get involved, the people behind it, and a list of contacts.
  • Help displays the "Help" page that contains links to installation, reference, and other information to answer your questions about Connexions.
  • MyCNX displays your member dashboard if you are signed in. This page includes links to your Work Areas, your lenses, and content you've recently visited.

Search and Quick Links

You can search the repository for a specific module or a collection using the Search button and text box in the upper right of the Connexions home page. Type in a name, keyword, collection title, module title, text string, or object ID in the Search text box and click Search. Connexions will display a list of all the content that matches your entry. To view a module or collection, click on its title.

Above the search box is a toolbar with some quick links for your convenience. These links vary, depending on whether you are logged into the system or not.

Figure 3: Personal toolbar before login
Search box while not logged in.

If you have a Connexions account and are logged into the system, you can perform the following actions by clicking on the links in this toolbar:

Figure 4: Personal toolbar after login
Search box while logged in.

My Account and Login Sidebar

On the right side of the Connexions homepage is the My Account sidebar. Its display depends on whether you are logged in or not.

Figure 5: My Accounts sidebar
(a) (b)
My account.My account.

The image on the left is displayed if you are not logged into Connexions or do not yet have an account. If you have a Connexions account, you can log into the system using this sidebar. In addition, there is a link to the page for requesting a new Connexions account, and a link to reset your password (if you forgot it).

The image on the right is displayed if you are logged into Connexions. It features links to your MyCNX dashboard, a link to change your account settings, and a link to modules that you have marked as your favorites. If you have any pending role requests or suggested edits, these will also be displayed in the My Account box.

Featured Content

The Featured Content portal is located on the left side of the home page. It is used to showcase Connexions' most popular and outstanding content, ranging from math and science collections to academic lenses.

Figure 6: Featured Content.
Featured Content.

Find Content

You can start browsing Connexions' modules and collections from the home page by using the Find Content portal. The Search Content box is used to search for keywords related to the content you would like to find.

Figure 7: Find content portal.
Find content

There are also several links in the Find Content portal that will point you toward interesting Connexions content. First, place your mouse over the way you wish to browse the repository -- either by Subject, Language, Popularity, or Title, etc. This will change the list of links on the right. Click on a link to begin browsing that particular selection of Connexions content.

Create Content

It's easy to get started creating content on Connexions. The Create Content portal, located just below the Find Content portal, contains links to help you begin authoring your own modules and collections.

Spotlight Sidebar

The Spotlight sidebar features authors and their content, feedback from Connexions users, and events related to Connexions.

Figure 8: The Spotlight sidebar
(a) (b)
Screenshot.Screenshot.

News Sidebar

This sidebar contains links to news items about the latest developments with Connexions. This includes updates to the site and outside publications that feature Connexions.

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'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

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Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks

Module to:

My Favorites (?)

'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks