Support for Student Memberships (Version 2.4.2)

Tom Engineer California Posted   Latest   Edited  

We have just released support for student memberships and the ability to control the minimum experience required to participate in topics and user groups. The goal is to allow less experienced members to read and learn from the discussions here, while participating in a limited and controlled way. 

Details surrounding these options are as follows:

  • Students and others newer to the industry are welcome to join Diagnostic Network.
  • All of our discussion topics now have a minimum experience requirement of 4+ years, meaning those with fewer years of experience (like students) will only be able to read the discussions, not create new ones, nor vote on or reply to existing messages.
  • User group managers are now free to set any minimum level of experience required to participate in their user groups. (We've started by setting all existing user groups to a minimum of 4 years, like our topics.)
  • The Diagnostic Network topic (which is designed for discussion about the development of our community) will remain open to members of any experience level, so that all may have input here.

The idea is that instructors and others interested in working with those new to the industry can create user groups specifically for them. For example, an instructor could create a user group for their students, then use our invitation system to invite their students to join DN for free and participate in that user group, while still being able to read and learn from all of the other discussions happening here. 

To create and manage a user group, a premium account is required ($49/year). Although private user groups are currently only available for our partners, if any instructor would like to take advantage of a private group for their students, please contact us to arrange that. In general, open and closed groups should work fine for your students. 

We are interested to see how instructors and educators utilize user groups to expand their curriculum, so please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

For those interested, here are our previous release notes (version 2.3).

Samuel Bane Technician
New Jersey
Samuel Bane

Love this!

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Mario Schwarz Curriculum Developer
Mario Schwarz

What a great idea! Thank you for doing this.

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Stephen Park Technician
Stephen Park

I’m not sure that I fully understand your intent. The 4 years of experience seems arbitrary and needlessly limiting. Can you tell if they have 4 years of experience or 1 year of experience 4 times? What does 4+ mean? 4 1/2? 5? Not allowing students to ask questions about a post prevents them from being able to get full benefit of the post when a point is unclear or contradicts their training. I would think that anyone currently employed as an automotive technician should be qualified to participate in a technician forum. I don’t think that anyone is required to read or reply to any post reply or posting itself for that matter. So other than taking up some data on the server, I don’t know what the harm would be in allowing them to participate. Too much of the OLD practices of I was here first and I had to work my way up and my seniority allows me to dictate your options still exist from years and years of that’s the way we’ve always done it. You can always limit a membership if the member’s participation is not acceptable.

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Tom Winzig Engineer
Tom Winzig

First, let me say thank you for the feedback. We are absolutely open to making changes, and over time we absolutely expect to build more nuanced options for participation. 

The 4+ years of experience requirement means a total of 4 or more years of experience in the vehicle service industry. In some ways, it is an arbitrary number, but in my experience, is a good starting point for the cutoff. It doesn’t mean we can’t change it at some point based on member feedback, of course. And more importantly, there is nothing stopping anyone on DN from creating one or more user groups designed specifically for helping newer industry participants (that is in fact one of the goals). Also, at the time that number was chosen, it would have impacted only a few dozen participants (and in looking at their accounts, I suspect some of those may have erroneously set their experience at the wrong level, which we can correct if asked).

My hope is that experience-based curation is only going to be a temporary solution. Longer term, we would like to use other techniques that should enable members to participate more completely on DN once they unlock certain achievements, allowing us to transition to merit-based participation. And at some point I would anticipate that instead of us enforcing a restriction on posting in our main topics, we would instead simply empower our members to control the types of posts that they personally see. 

As for the question of “why” do this at all: in our experience, communities will degrade quickly if left in a free-for-all mode. With the introduction of a Free tier, our membership will grow faster than before, and we need a short-term mechanism to help prevent this from happening until I have the opportunity to build out more nuanced controls. In addition, we wanted to allow students/educators to use DN in a controlled way. 

We of course welcome all feedback in this regard. 

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Samuel Bane Technician
New Jersey
Samuel Bane

Spot on professional response!

There are learning forums, diagnostic feedback forums, opinion forums, etc. The idea for groups was great. This is equally as great on its own. The dialogue shared in the different forums at times can be broad. Other times it needs to be specific. Even as a veteran of the industry, I still have questions and things to experience. However, I know and realize when I should not fill the screen and use up someone's time with questions or inexperienced ramble when indeed they need precise knowledgeable topic related discussion. Unlocks and achievements are more fair ideas. Another thought is, yes, we all learn at different paces and have different professional experiences. With that being said, this industry and the amount of knowledge out here on the web can quite frankly be overwhelming at times. I feel as though the parameters being set, will not only keep the site integrity but help us as technicians as well. This is great for educational growth! Just my food for thought.

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