Colleges and universities bring people together from around the world to study, learn and network. It’s no surprise that the world’s largest social network, Facebook, was created at a University. But, while social networks have a role, there is also an opportunity for more dedicated online communities too.
1. Not everything is social: Social networks provide outlets for students and faculty to connect and share experiences, but some content simply doesn’t belong on a social network. A private online community dedicated to students and faculty can be useful for sharing information that doesn’t necessarily need to post on social media for the public to view.
Here are a few examples of content that is appropriate for a college/university community:
- Discussions between students and teachers in an open forum
- A calendar of events for activities happening on campus or for a specific class
- Lecture notes from current or previous classes
- The ability to browse through class or faculty members’ profiles.
2. An online community is more than a social network: An online community provides the benefits of enabling people in the community to network and connect to one another; but an online community also provides the tools for managing those interactions in a more structured environment. For example, a social network enables people to quickly and easily create connections (the network) but an online community expands the network to also include all the related content: files, videos, questions, Wiki documents and all of the related activities around the content.
3. More focused engagement with alumni:When it comes to building engagement there is one thing that most colleges/universities care about: alumni. Alumni typically represent some of the largest financial donations to colleges and universities and a social community can provide a place where alumni can ask questions, provide feedback and connect with other alumni A social community can also create opportunities for colleges/universities to gain more insight about alumni and potentially use that insight to populate their CRM system with better data.
4. Membership has its privileges:When a student attends a college/university there are certain privileges they have access to. Similarly, a closed online community that is exclusive to only students and/or faculty provide interactions that aren’t available (or aren’t possible) on large public social networks. These interactions are invaluable to students and create another avenue through which the college/university can better guarantee the success of a student.
5. No, I don’t want to be friends:Most students do not want to add faculty from their college to their Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter network - many of the activities that happen on these networks are by definition social and students do not wish to share photos or status updates with faculty (and usually parents). An online community within a college creates a clean space where those professional types of networks can be formed enabling meaningful interactions to take place.
6. Not all learning is on campus:Much of today’s classes are taught both on campus and remotely. For remote students, this means the communication tools available to them for interacting with their peers and professors is critical to their success. Online communities provide a virtual campus where on campus students and faculty can interact with their remote peers.
There are many other benefits for colleges and universities to reap from running their own online community; which, in fact, is exactly what some of our Telligent customers do. If you’d like to talk with us more about running an online community for your college, university, school or classroom - .