The Conference Manager

    After you receive an e-mail from the U of M COW Administrator telling you that your conference has been set up, you can go into COW and begin to set things up. You will need to go into the Change Hotlist area and add your new conference to your list, just as if you were a regular participant. Fear not, however, you will have fair witness privileges. After you are done, click the 'Change Hotlist' button, to go back to your new Hotlist. Now you should see the name of your new conference as part of the list. Click on that name.

    At this point, the conference will be pretty empty. You should see a generic message saying something along the lines of "the fair witness of this conference has not written a welcome message yet...." Let's fix that. Just above this message, you should see a line reading:

      You are the Fair Witness for this conference
      [Conference Manager] is available.

    Click on that link. At this point, you should see a new browser window open up with the Conference Manager loaded. To see what it should look like, click here. This page has several buttons that take you to pages that allow you to edit your conference. Below, I describe these pages. Note that after you make any changes in any of these pages, you will be automatically returned to the Conference Manager page.

  • Change Conference Configuration
  • Create New Topic
  • Arrange Topics
  • User Access List
  • Edit Comment
  • Edit Welcome Message
  • Back to Conference

Change Conference Configuration

    This page allows you to define some basic information about your conference. Follow the instructions below to fill in the appropriate boxes:
    • Conference Type: If your conference is for a class, click your mouse on the radio button next to the word class; otherwise click the button next to conference. There is only one difference between a class and a conference: in a conference, participants have the option of marking all conversations as read, while in a class students do not have this option. This is so instructors can make sure that students are actually reading all the posted messages. You may, for example, want to maintain an ongoing assignment for students to keep track of the COW conversations.
    • Access: public means that anybody that wants to subscribe to your conference can do so with no special permission. If your conference is intended for a class, you may want to click private instead, which means that you dictate who can enter and who cannot.
    • Fair Witness List: You should already see your name in this box, which means that COW recognizes you as a fair witness to this particular conference. Being a fair witness means that you have access to both the conference manager and the topic manager, which I describe in the next lesson, and everything they allow you to do. If you would like to give fair witness privileges to additional people (such as GSI's for example), just add their login names after yours. Make sure to separate all login names by commas, and do not put any spaces between the names and the commas.
    • Primary Fair Witness Name: This is simply the official name of the head fair witness to this conference. Your name should be here.
    • Primary Fair Witness Email: Your e-mail should go here. If your conference is private and people outside the conference wish to join, they will probably send a request to this e-mail address.
    • Advanced Options (Best Left Alone): This box uses programming code to allow you to, among other things, have all messages sent to your conference automatically forwarded to your e-mail address (not recommended). Unless you know a lot about COW, you should leave this box alone.

    IMPORTANT: Each time you are done making changes to the boxes here or in any other part of the conference manager, you must click the Change button. In this case the button is called Change Config. If you don't click this button, your changes will not take effect.

Create New Topic

    Each time you want to create a new topic, you start here. It's a bit confusing that in order to make a topic you go to the conference manager instead of the topic manager, but such is the way with COW. Once again, you have several boxes to fill out which I discuss below:
    • New Topic Name ( Subject Line ): This is the name that will be listed at the bottom of the conference page when a participant goes to check for new messages. You should only fill this box out once. If you want to change the name of the topic, you will have to do so within the topic manager.
    • Topic Number ( Decimal ): This is simply a number to keep track of the topic by. It's a good idea for you to a list, on the side, of which topic corresponds to which number. This will make your life easier when you create links in the Related Topics section (#3 below). You may use a period in numbering your topics. For example, if you want to give a separate topic to each section in a certain chapter of the class book, you can name the topics 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc.
    • Related Topics ( comma separated list ): You can create a link from one topic to another. You may want to do this if the material or the discussion in them is similar. The related topics you list here will be written at the bottom of this topic page as you may have seen before. To create the links, simply write the number of the related topics, separated by commas.
    • The Private Box: This is similar to the option you have of making the whole conference private, except that it applies to this particular topic alone. If you click this box, only those people you list in the Access List (see #5) box can enter this topic. If you leave this box unchecked, everybody in your conference can enter this topic.
    • Access List ( If Private ): If you checked the Private Box, you should list the login names of everyone who you would like to give access to this particular topic. You list the names in the same manner as you would for the Conference Access -- write each name on a separate line.

    Once again, you must click the Make Topic button for the topic to be created. If you made a mistake and would like to start over, then as long as you didn't already click the Make Topic button, you may click the Reset button and start from scratch.

    After you click the Make Topic button, you will go to a page that tells you that the new topic has been created and offer you a link to the Topic Manager in order to set up that topic. At this point you might want to take a break from the Conference Manager portion of the tutorial and go to the Topic Manager lesson.

Arrange Topics

    Once you have several topics down, you may want to visit the Arrange Topics page. This page allows you to delete, rename and/or re-number topics. The page is basically a long list of all the current topics. Each topic listed looks like this:



    The current topic name


    Change Topic #? Delete #?


    The first line -- Current -- tells you the properties of the topic now. The second line allows you to change those properties. If you want to change the number of the topic, type the new number in the box within the New: row. If you want to change the name of the topic, type the new name in the larger box in the New row. Then, make sure to check the Change Topic #? box.

    If you want to remove the topic altogether, simply check the Delete #? box.

    IMPORTANT: When you are done making all the changes, click the 'Save Changes' button at the top. Otherwise, your changes will not register.

    NOTE: If there are any numbering conflicts -- if you attempt to give the same number to more than one topic -- the changes will not take place.

User Access List

    This page allows you to change the list of people who have permission to enter your conference. The page has three boxes. The first allows you to add a person, the second allows you to remove a person, and the third is a larger box showing you the current access list.

    To make multiple changes: If you are creating the list for the first time, you should use the quick method. Simply type the list of user ID's in the large box under 'Make Multiple Changes'. Put each name in its own line, separated by returns. You may both remove and add names, and you may make as many changes as you like. When you are done, click the 'CHANGE ACCESS LIST'.

    To add a single person: type that person's login ID in the box under 'Add a Single User'. Then click the 'ADD USER' button. After a few seconds, you should see that person added to the list below.

    To remove a single person: type that person's login ID in the box under 'Remove A Single User'. Then click the 'REMOVE USER' button. After a few seconds, you should see that person's name removed from the list below.

Edit Comment

    When participants click into the Change Hotlist page, they see a list of the names of the conferences to which they subscribe. Next to the name, if you recall, they have a checkbox they can click to add that conference to their Hotlist. If they click on the name, they go to a page that tells them the name of the fair witness, their e-mail, and a short comment on what that conference is about. This is the Conference Comment.

    To change the comment: use the same process you would use to post a message to a conversation. Type the body of the comment in the large box below 'Current Comment'. When you are done, you should click the 'Preview comment' button. Then, click the browser's BACK button and, if you have no additional changes to make, click the 'Change Comment'. Once again, unless you click the 'Change Comment' button, no changes will take place. Remember, you can use any sort of HTML you want within this

Edit Welcom Message

    The Welcome Message is what participants read when they enter the conference page. To change this message, follow the same procedure you did for the Edit Comment part. Remember, you can use any sort of HTML you want within this message, as with any other larger pieces of text such as conversation messages, topic messages, etc. Also, make sure that you preview your Welcome Message before you click to change it.

Back to Conference

    When you are done making all of your Conference Manager changes, click this button to go back to the conference and view your changes. Another way to do this would be to simply close the Conference Manager window.


Maintained by Aaron Rosen | Comments may be sent to