New volunteers

If it is your first time visiting PEOI, please read the following general outline, then visit "Volunteers needed" subsection. You should also read carefully and become familiar with PEOI's course design described in "Authors " . PEOI is a website and all course pages are in HTML. If you have never heard of HTML, please do not join PEOI.

New volunteers are invited to read through the different projects to identify the one in which they are most interested, and to verify that they will be able to have a productive and rewarding experience at PEOI. Once a new volunteer decides that a given project is worth his/her time and efforts, it is necessary to register in the "Registration" procedure. It is easy to understand that since the work depends on the profile of a volunteer, certain needed information is required at the time of registration. As stated in PEOI's privacy policy, all this information is never shared with anyone outside this organization, and only a volunteer's information useful to others will appear in a profile.

There are seven PEOI's communities: students, employers, partners, faculty, staff, board members and donors. Volunteers would normally register as either faculty (which includes authors, editors, reviewers and translators), staff or board member. Within each classification, there are numerous activities. Some tasks require certain qualifications which are indicated in the project description and the task selection procedure. Volunteers must be registered with the correct qualification in order to be approved for certain tasks. Please note that a volunteer registration is subject to verification prior to becoming operational. For some activities, submission of credentials or CV is necessary.

PEOI's volunteers management platform

How to work at PEOI Tutorials: on log in, Edit HTML text . translate questions .
View Editing HTML Text as a way to import text material to PEOI
View How to take a test in economics at PEOI

A registered volunteer must log in each time he/she wishes to use any PEOI's procedure. Remember that there are different types of registrations and you must log in specifying the proper user type. Some volunteers may find it necessary to have more than one registration in order to be active in different projects. As indicated in the log in access page, please note that three consecutive erroneous attempts at logging in will prevent you from trying again. If you have difficulties with logging in (or any other procedure), please contact the webmaster indicated in contact information.

Discover PEOI's volunteers management platform. This platform opens once a registered volunteer logs in. It is a different world from what students and the general public sees in PEOI's web site. It was created because all work at PEOI is done online with a large number of procedures, and the platform gives access to them. In addition, the platform helps volunteers know when, where and what needs to be done, and for coordinators to keep track of who is doing what and what is not done. Any organization, such as PEOI, that relies on volunteers becomes unmanageable for its administrators once there are several hundreds volunteers.

The initial and central location of the volunteers management platform is "My account" which is compose of six parts:
- "My registration" which allows a volunteer to change any aspect of one's registration at PEOI.
- "My profile" that is also seen by anyone else registered at PEOI.
- "My work" that shows the tasks selected and work completed by a volunteer at PEOI.
- "My task selection" which lists all the tasks open to a volunteer given the language, qualifications and group recorded in one's registration.
- "My group" which gives the name, email contact and profile of all the members of one's team.
- "My discussion" which opens the group discussion of the group to which the volunteer belongs, and allows to post and to send messages to the entire group.
Soon to come will be one additional part for "My feedback".

From the central "My account" location, the volunteers management platform gives access to about 70 procedures to propose, create, edit and delete all the content present on PEOI. The procedures are grouped in sections that relate to PEOI's major functions associated with students, faculty, authors, partners, employers, donors, volunteers themselves, board members and the web site itself.

Selecting tasks

The procedure that will be often useful to volunteers is "My task selection". When you start the procedure, it first shows the tasks corresponding to one's registration. But, it also offers a number of parameters to select another set of tasks from the tasks data bank. The procedure lists another tasks selection once the criteria is changed by the user. For instance, only tasks in a particular activity, type of qualification, project type or translation language can be listed. (Note: the choice of "Language of work" pertains to course content, not to the language in which the procedure operates.)

The tasks that have NOT been already chosen or completed will appear with a "Choose" button. A volunteer can click on that "Choose" button to have that task assigned to him/herself. In that case, the deadline date is estimated by the procedure based on the size of the work to do and the following estimated hours of work: one week for work requiring less than five hours, and additional weeks for each five hours of work. A volunteer can set a different deadline by clicking on the task number shown in the left column. This gives access to a reminder of the nature of the project and a complete listing of the particulars of the task, as well as the ability to choose a different deadline by changing the date and clicking on the "Choose" button. This task description also offers a button "Go do task" as short cut to the subject matter of an assignment.

Most common activity on PEOI

Most volunteer work on PEOI is in writing, reading, editing or translating course content. This is performed with "Edit HTML text", "Edit cases" and "Edit questions" procedures. For each of these procedures the screen shows five components:
- a selection of language, course, chapter, and section, case or question;
- a TEXTAREA with the content and buttons for what to do with this content (e.g save it);
- a preview of the content;
- a schedule of who has done work on the various chapters and sections of the course, and what remains undone;
- explanations of how to use the procedure.
In addition, short lines of small text can show the exact name of the file opened, the date it was last saved, a list of all those who worked on the content, and other such occasionally useful information. In the schedule of work performed, a color code shows the state of each chapter section: no work done (light green or yellow), task assigned (pink), work started (grey), work completed (blue) and work verified (black). The same color code is used in "My tasks selection".

As can be observed in the description of the procedures, most work on PEOI involves dealing with HTML pages. Volunteers are not required to know HTML, and are asked to just leave the HTML tags in all pages as they are. Only the text appearing in between the tags needs to be dealt with. This, however, is not true for a volunteer who inserts new content into a course. But, in that case, the tags that are needed are just paragraph tags <P> and </P>, at the beginning and end of a paragraph, respectively. When pasting text into the TEXTAREA, the only important thing to remember is that the text must be in a format for "text with line breaks" in order to avoid hidden formatting tags that will create problems when the content is interpreted by PEOI's procedures.

TO DO THE WORK, SELECTING A TASK IS NOT REQUIRED. Indeed, listing tasks and giving volunteers the ability to select one of the tasks in "My tasks selection" is a mere convenience, and a useful information for others. But, all work on PEOI can be performed without selecting a task. In fact, it is recommended that a new volunteer visits the procedure(s) to get an understanding of what the work will represent before selecting a task (and if needed ask questions from the coordinator, other members or the webmaster). Moreover, the schedule of the work performed that appears in all procedures, shows what is not done.

Coordinator's activity

Coordinators should also find "My task selection" procedure useful because all the tasks under his/her purview can be listed showing every task as either verified, completed, in progress, assigned with deadline or open. This should help coordinators to direct or assign new volunteers to appropriate work.

The "Set up project" procedure is reserved for coordinators. Anyone else can only see a listing of the projects with some information pertaining to them. A coordinator can modify or create projects including writing a project description that will appear in the Project description page. There are different project types requiring a diversity of tasks that the coordinator may assign to volunteers. Each different project type requires certain parameters to be specified such as
- qualifications required,
- activity type,
- field of study (if needed),
- link to explanations (if exists),
- numbers of hours of work (if can be calculated, or ongoing),
- language in which written (if necessary), and/or
- language from which translated (if relevant).
There can be any number of tasks associated with a project, and each can be created or modified by a coordinator.

For certain types of projects such as translation of a course or development of a new course, the "Set up project" procedure will generate a standard assortment of tasks. It is up to the coordinator to modify these tasks, as he/she deems appropriate.

The "Set up project" procedure also gives access to two other procedures reserved for coordinators. One procedure allows to create or modify project types. For instance, this determines the parameters that will be required in tasks of that particular project type discussed above. The project types can be labeled in each of PEOI's operational languages. The system allows for additional languages to be added in the future. The second procedure also accessible through "Set up project" procedure allows a coordinator to modify or create new task activities.

Making the system as good as it can be

This volunteers management system is now operational. Additional features will added in the future as volunteers convey their recommendations for improvement. As the review process gets under way, a list of deficiencies will be posted here. It is PEOI's goal to perfect this volunteer management system so that is can be offered as a freeware to organizations that rely on volunteers as PEOI does. Your help in making this system as good as it can be is solicited. So, send in your recommendations, ideas and especially detailed information about any technical difficulty. Thank you.

List of known deficiencies of volunteers management system:
- write clearer explanations for the use of the procedures
- insert explanations into the procedures themselves
- not all tasks have been created
- not all project types are now operational
- guidelines and explanations are now only in English

Volunteer recognition

Volunteer activity is recognized in many ways. The following is shows how in an increasing level.

- First, all volunteer work is listed in PEOI's newsletters with occasional mention of unusual contributions.
- The name of all those who contributed to a course page are listed in the upper right corner of the page.
- A letter of reference is prepared and sent by the executive director to all those who ask for such letter. The letter describes the activity of the volunteer. Note that if the volunteer has done no or very little work, the letter may not be beneficial to the volunteer.
- Statistics of the work of all volunteers is compiled, and the most signifant volume is reported at the bottom of PEOI's home page.
- Most outstanding contributors are features in "Volunteer featured" and their PEOI Volunteer Recogniton Certificate is shown with the mention of the work performed.
- The volunteers who joined PEOI through Online Volunteering may also receive a certificate from Online Volunteering. For that they must 1) enter a feedback on Online Volunteering website, and 2) indicate to the executive director (i.e. currently John Petroff) that they wish to have such certificate issued.

PEOI is entirely run by volunteers. Won't you please join, and help us?

For new volunteer suggestions or more details, please write a short message indicating the volunteer opportunity you are interested in, attach a recent resume, and email to the appropriate coordinator or person in contact information.