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Zoho Discussions Research Page

Zoho Discussions Group Member Introduction Page




I. History

      I. Development[1]

The website ZOHO was created in 1996, the headquarters are in Pleasanton, Ca.  They have a lot of different applications and it's best known for the ZOHO suites. ZOHO suites were created in 2005. This is where you’re going to find ZOHO Discussions.  They also have branches of ZOHO in Tokyo, London, and Beijing. With these features, it makes it easier for people around the world to connect and use these applications that have been created.  

      II. How Zoho Discussions Works[2],[3]

ZOHO Discussions is a networking site designed for the use of companies and businesses. This networking site allows for several types of communication throughout a company’s many levels and even down to the customers. This discussion forum also has several features which enhance the overall user experience. These features include discussion categories, social areas, site branding, easy site navigation, and several privacy settings. 
                

The discussion categories are there to label the urgency or topic of the discussion that is being entered into the forum.  There are five categories to label a discussion on this ZOHO application: Start a Discussion, Ask a Question, Propose an Idea, Report a Problem, and Announcement. These discussion topics allow for a more organized discussion environment. This also makes it possible for customers to voice their opinions or issues on the company’s website through ZOHO Discussions. This customer connection allows for easier communication between the company and the consumer.

While ZOHO Discussions is extremely helpful when dealing with customers, it also provides an online environment for employees to chat. They can use the same five discussion topics as above, but they can also use a different area of the site as a social networking page. This networking page is similar to Facebook, but is only for employees of a certain company. ZOHO Discussions creates both a work and social environment for employees within the same site. This social area is mainly for employees so they do not bog down the actual business area with useless information.
               

The navigation of this application is very simple. The organization of discussion topics is only the beginning. There is also a search engine within this application to more easily find the proper discussion topics. ZOHO Discussions also has a device that allows certain discussion topics to find you. You would type in keywords and then when they pop up you are notified of the discussion link.
               

This site also allows companies to brand the site to make it look how they want. This allows for different coloration of the webpage and addition of pictures. All of this makes this application look unique and can therefore be designed to look like the rest of the companies work.
               

There are also several privacy settings placed on the discussions. This means discussions can be private or public depending on the sensitivity of the material.
               

ZOHO Discussions allows for easy communication between two employees, and also allows for communication between the customers and the company. All of these application features make communication easy and organized. This is a Web2.0 application that is relatively new, but so far has proved to be effective.

 
  II. How Zoho Discussions Relates to Other Applications

   I. Comparison to Competitors[5],[6],[7],[8]

The application of Zoho Discussions is similar to those of Microsoft Office or Google Docs.  The forum-type web application itself compares to such competitors as Invision Power Board, phpBB, and vBulletin.  Zoho Discussions is not nearly as advanced as these other applications, and users are not given as much control, and may find it a bit more limiting.  The nice thing about this application is that it is much quicker and easier to use, and it offers the ability to bookmark a topic, add tags to a topic, and subscribe to the RSS feed for a forum, which are some features that other competitors do not offer. Zoho Discussions is also different from competitors such as FriendFeed and the looming Google Wave, where Zoho Discussions allow companies to customize the community software with their branding after adding it to their domain. Zoho Discussions is also more effective than email when involving large groups of people.  Employees and customers can have internal discussions about their needs and wants using private messaging, profiles, and integrated discussion.

This is a comparison of ZOHO Discussions and two competitors that offer similar services.[9]

 

      II. Unique Uses

 

Zoho Discussions is unique in many different ways. Zoho Discussions is web based and is easily integrated with other Zoho software and outside applications.  Employees and customers can have internal discussions about their needs and wants using private messaging, profiles, and integrated discussion. This allows companies to eliminate problems when they want to upgrade software, work remotely, or collaborate internationally.[10] There are some unique features that are offered by Zoho that competitors do not, such as the availability to bookmark a topic and add tags.[11] One of Zoho's unique uses is that it can be used with other technologies that act as plug-ins.  It is also unique in a way in which it has high availability, higher security, and intuitive user experience as well as topic types.[12] Zoho is also unique because it allows users to use their Google Apps, Yahoo, and Facebook logins and passwords to log into their Zoho accounts.[13]

.

       III. How to Join[4]

Joining is as simple as setting up an email account!

  1. First go to: http://www.zoho.com/index.html then sign up as a new user. The screen below will show up. 


    2. Click on the "Sign Up" link located in the top right-hand corner. The screen below will be what you should see next, fill out the necessary information as the example below shows.               
        

    3. Once you click the "Sign Up Now" button in the above screen shot you will be taken back to the home page.  To get to Zoho Discussions you pull down the collaboration tab and select Discussions as shown below.

      

        

    4. After you click on the discussions link the page below will come up and you will sign in to your newly acquired Zoho account.   

               
    5. Now you are taken to a screen where you can choose between either a Private or Customer Support Community.

      
     6.Now you will be taken to the next screen where you will be faced with the decision of whether you want to try a free trial or buy a package online. If you decide to buy a package then you will be taken to a payment page similar to most online shopping sites. However, if you select a free trial you still have the option of upgrading. Either way, you are ready to embark on your Zoho Discussions journey.

If you selected a free trial, which is a great way to determine if this program will be valuable to your business or classroom, you can still easily upgrade your trial to a package suitable to your needs. All you need to do is go the the "Settings" tab on your home page, select the "Plan" tab, and then choose whichever plan you had in mind. 

To invite users, such as students, employees, or co-workers, simply go to the "Settings" then click on users and the screen below is what you will see. Click on the "Invite Users" button and type in the email address of the user you would like to invite.

If you encounter any problems along the joining process that cannot be solved by rereading the "How to Join" section please visit the Zoho help page: http://www.zoho.com/support.html  or call 1 (888) 900-9646.     

 III. Real World Application

        I. Educational Lesson Plans  

 
             i. Elementary
Students will learn the capitals, geography, and some history of the 50 United States. With this information they will participate in an online discussion with their classmates.

50 States (DOC)

50 States (PDF)

Students will take a field trip to the zoo. At the zoo, they will observe several different butterflies. They are to try to notice the differences of the butterflies. They will then return to school, and use ZOHO to discuss with their classmates what they observed. This allows them to learn more than what they observed on their own.

Zoo Observations (DOC)

Zoo Observations (PDF)

The students will have learned about several shapes in class. They will log onto ZOHO and answer questions about the perimeter and area of shapes in the discussion area. The students will work in groups of two, and will be able to correct their mistakes by working with other students on the discussion board.

Discussion of Shapes (DOC)

Discussion of Shapes (PDF)

 Zoho Discussion lesson plans:

Zoho Discussion - Kristen Cowan .pdf

             ii. Secondary
Students will learn about several cell structures in the biology course. At home, they will be expected to fill in the blank spaces in a picture of a cell on ZOHO. The students will be able to discuss with each other certain things, but the teacher will monitor all activity to make sure no blatant cheating is taking place.

Cell Structure (DOC)

Cell Structure (PDF)

Students will be paired with businesses in the community, and will use ZOHO Discussions to create a web page that can benefit the business in some way. The students will have contact with the business through this application as well.

Local Business (DOC)

Local Business (PDF)

Students will create a group presentation based on Civil War leaders. To complete this project, the students will use ZOHO Discussions to communicate with one another.

Civil War (DOC)

Civil War (PDF)

 
             iii. Post Secondary

The students will be in an investing class and will be learning how to wisely invest their money into the stock markets.  They must post on ZOHO what they have decided to do so students can discuss with each other why or why not they think they should have invested the money the way they did.

Stock Markets (DOCX)

Stock Markets (PDF) 

The students will be in a level 2 biology course, and will be working together to dissect a mutant strand of Drosophila. They are to decide whether the mutation occurs on the same chromosome, or separate chromosomes. The students must place their results on ZOHO, so they can compare with one another.

Mutation Lab (DOC)

Mutation Lab (PDF)

The students will be in an entry level education course, and will be informed about the uses of technology in the classroom. On ZOHO Discussions, the students will make an informed discussion entry on the positives or negatives of any recent technology used in the classroom.

College Discussion (DOC)

College Discussion (PDF)

College students will take part in an international discussion using ZOHO Discussions. The students will explain to the international students what it means to be an American through personal experience and media. In return, the international students will talk about their country.

What is an American (DOC)

What is an American (PDF)

     II. Business/Industry[14]

ZOHO Discussions can be very helpful in a classroom setting, from parental contact to having students interact with the community. This is all great when applied to classroom teaching, but how can businesses benefit from ZOHO Discussions? This application allows businesses to have a closer contact to their employees as well as their customers. Employees would use this application to keep in contact with one another without interfering in their actual work. ZOHO makes it easy to send each other notes, and start company-wide discussions. Customers can contact the company more easily with this application with the discussion tool. They can label the topic of their comment so the company can know what to look for in their messages. This connection between customer and company allows for a product that better benefits the population.

IV. Demonstration of Educational Value[15]

Zoho Discussions can be very beneficial to education if used correctly.  It can be used for a number of different reasons from the teacher to the students, the students to students, and the teacher to the parents.  The teacher of a class is able to create a discussion group on Zoho and invite the students of their class to join it.  They could use this discussion group to post updates and announcements about the class.  The teacher could also use this to inform students about due dates and projects. This can also be used for student to student interaction. Students are able to create groups within themselves to collaborate ideas about upcoming group projects or discussions. Students are also able to discuss easily with students from other areas across the country or even the world.  They can give their own opinions and make them visible to the entire group. This application would also be very beneficial for teacher to parent interaction.  Teachers could easily post information about themselves and the class in a discussion group with the students’ parents.  The parents could then feel free to comment or ask questions to the teacher at any time. This would be a very beneficial tool to keep everyone updated and involved in the current classroom situations. Below is a depiction of how students can use Zoho Discussion to interact with one another. 

V. How Zoho Discussions is Used Internationally[16]


Zoho discussions can be used in six different languages: English, Japanese, German, Chinese, Norwegian and Swedish. This means that Zoho discussions is available for approximately 1.4 billion people. This broadens the chance for international students, employees, companies and so forth to interact with one another. Zoho discussions makes collaborating through international projects much easier than they have been in the past.

Zoho discussions can also be used by international companies for world wide discussion and problem solving. Another advantage with Zoho discussions is that one company’s employee instantly can reach out to the entire staff without having to send personal e-mails to each one of them. This could help make the work faster and more efficient.

In some countries, such as India, the use of computers is rather new for large amounts of the population, many computer users are not familiar with desktop programs such as Microsoft Office. Zoho discussions makes it easier for these users to create, edit and share files online.

VI. References


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