College is a time for experimentation, they say, and that applies as much to social media as anything else, as college students continue to create new social networks, many with a local or “real world” focus that distinguishes them from universal platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
A student at Penn State, Pawel Puchalski, recently founded a social network to facilitate academic interactions, CourseGroups, where students and professors can discuss coursework, share notes, organize study groups, take practice exams, collaborate on projects, and so on. The network automatically creates a social group for every course being taught at the university during a given semester, bundling each student’s courses together on their profile page. The network also hosts a database of user-generated content, including lecture notes, practice exams, and the like.
One obvious advantage of CourseGroups: by separating academic connections from the rest of your social network, it banishes a huge number of distractions that stop you from actually, you know, getting anything done. Puchalski also noted that professors may feel more comfortable using CourseGroups to communicate with students than less-formal channels like Facebook.
Meanwhile Taylor Robinette, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recently launched Bevii, a social network that’s currently only open to students from the Research Triangle’s “big three” universities (UNC, Duke, and N.C. State). Eight investors are supporting the launch with $300,000 in start-up funds.
Bevii tracks your offline interactions with other members, including length and frequency, via a smartphone app, adding and dropping people from your social circle based on how much you interact with them in the “real world.” It also assigns a relationship value to the connection between any two individuals, which in turn determines how much of each other’s content they can see -- basically automating many of the privacy settings that require manual interaction on a site like Facebook. However users can change their relationship values manually if they wish.