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How To

How to Use the Iowa Department of Education Competency-based Education Collaboration Site


The Iowa Department of Education encourages those interested in competency-based education to participate in this site.  The site is not a traditional website; it is an online space to support work on competency-based education.  When members are active, the site works to the greatest benefit of all members by providing a space to share in real-time with other districts and schools and with the greater community.  Examples of ways members might use the site include:

  • develop a greater understanding of what competency-based education is;
  • learn more about the supports offered by the Iowa Department of Education;
  • learn how other districts are approaching, designing or implementing competency-based educational reforms;
  • request or share resources;
  • share successes;
  • share lessons learned;
  • and find a network of others in Iowa interested in competency-based educational reforms.

To help you participate more freely, we offer some simple and quick “How-Tos” for the site.  If you need further assistance, do not hesitate to post the question for your fellow learners or email Sandra Dop ([email protected]).  


This site provides space for members to share information about competency-based education reforms. Comments, readings or other content do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Iowa Department of Education, REL Midwest, or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement.

Joining the Iowa Forum on Competency-based Education

Go to IACompEd.com.  On the right hand side of the page you will see a module welcoming you to the site.   Click on Sign Up in that module.  Simply enter your email address, password, and birthdate in the prompt boxes.  (The site asks for your birthdate to verify your age and legal ability to participate in the site.)  You must complete two captchas to join.  First answer the question and then type the two words you see in the boxes.  We use these to prevent spam on the site. 

You will be asked to open your email to verify your address.  Please follow the link in your email to complete your registration.   

If you receive notification that your membership was rejected please contact Sandra Dop ([email protected]). 

Managing Your Profile

When you log in to the site you will see a box on the right hand side with your name on it.  This will appear on every page of the site.  To manage your profile click on Settings.  You will find a place to upload a photo, change your email address, and decide to allow the site to display your birthdate or not.

When you sign in you will also see a blue bar under the site banner directing you to some of the things you could do on the site, like adding a photo, adding content, or setting up your profile.

On the right hand side of the page you will also see My Page.  Click on it to access the page where you can personalize the appearance of your page. 

Creating Personal Preferences for Privacy and Email Notifications

To get to your personal preferences click on Settings in the box under your name.  On the left hand side of the page click on Privacy.  This will allow you to manage the visibility of your profile and other items you post to the site.  You can also click the box next to Notify site update services to block third-party blog tracking for anything you post.  Please note that the site does not currently have a blog, so the blog settings are not currently active.

You can also decide how public comments on your profile are on the site and whether others can see a “gift” you have received from another site member.  (A gift is a graphic of a package given to one member from another to recognize excellence.) 

Clicking on Latest Activity allows you to manage which actions you take are reported on the site and in email notifications.    

To manage your email notifications go to Email on the left hand side of the page.  Email Frequency allows you to manage how often you receive notifications of actions pertaining to you, such as comments on your profile or on a discussion you started.  You can choose “instantly” or “daily.”  The other sections of the page allow you to decide what actions you want to be notified about, for example, new forum discussions, responses to forums, or friend requests.

Above the Activity section you can also opt to Stop Following All.   This will stop the site from sending you messages about any of the activities you were following on the site.

At the bottom of the page you can also choose to Turn Off All Emails.  If you choose this option, you will not receive updates from the site or messages sent by members or the Iowa Department of Education through the site.

Your Inbox and Friends

In the box on the right hand side of each page under your name, you will also find Inbox.  Click on this to read any messages you have received in your site email.  This is separate from your other personal email inbox and you may receive messages here that do not come through to your regular email depending on your security settings.  You can go into your personal email and allow messages from IACompEd.com to simplify the process. 

In the box you will also see Friends.  Clicking on this will show you the members that you have friended on the site.  This is helpful as it allows you to choose a group of people you want to communicate with regularly and then craft messages to be sent to your friends only. 

Discussion Forums

The Discussion Forums offer a place for members to ask questions, offer resources, and engage in discussions.  There are two places to access the Forums.  Scroll down the Main page and you will find the Forums on the left hand side.  From here you can click on a Discussion Forum to access it. 

  • To start a discussion from the Main page click +Add a Discussion at the bottom of the Forum module.
  • You can also access the Discussion Forums by going to Discussion Forums on the top navigation bar from any page on the site.  To start a discussion from the Discussion Forums page click +Add located in the top right hand side of the page. 

To start a discussion forum, type a title in the Title box and type your text or materials in the Post box. 

  • You can link to an online resource by clicking on the Link icon above the Post box.  Be sure to bold and then underline your link before adding it to help others identify it as a link. 
  • To add an image, click on the Image icon next to the Link icon.  Browse for your image and upload it onto the site.
  • To add a video, click on the Video icon next to Image and use an embed code.  Make sure that you have permissions to share the video.
  • The box with the T inside it allows you to paste as plain text.  This way you can add text, but remove the formatting to make it easier to manipulate.
  • To attach files, upload them as a link by clicking on the Paperclip icon or attach the files in the boxes at the bottom of the page.
  • Type the topic of your post into the URL box to make it easier for others to find it by searching.
  • You can also add Tags to your post to let others know what topics are included in your discussion.
  • To look over your discussion before posting, click Preview at the bottom of the page.

To respond to a discussion thread, click on the Discussion Forum topic you want to join.  You can then hit Reply to This and post a response.  You can also send a personal message to the person who started the thread or responded to it on the site by clicking Send Message.  Or you can view all of that person’s other discussions by clicking View Discussions.

In addition, you can Like a discussion or response, Share it via another platform, Tweet it by clicking on the Twitter icon or add it to your Facebook.  You can also upload files to a response by going to the bottom of the page and clicking Upload Files.

You can see all of the Discussions on the site or only the ones you have contributed to by clicking My Discussions at the top of page.


Groups allow private space for members to collaborate on the site or a space for people who want to talk about a specific topic.  Click Groups on the top navigation bar to get to the Groups page.  You will see all of the Groups on the site.  Most of these are private, but some of them are open to all.  You can also click to see My Groups which will show you only the groups that you have joined.

To create a group, you can either click on +Add at the upper right hand side of the Groups module or you can click why not create your own group? from within a private group that you have not been invited to join.  Enter your group details as prompted.  Then set up your group privacy settings.  You can decide if anyone can join or if it is open by invitation only.  In addition, you can decide whether to approve members before they are allowed to join.   

To request membership to a group click on the goup's name.  If the group is not private you can click +Join [Group Name] in the upper right side of the page.  If the group is private click +Request invitation to group.  You will receive notification in your Group Invites when it is has been approved.




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