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University Web Developers

A recent trend in higher ed has been the creation of niche social networks for Accepted Students. With the new academic year underway, a common question around these sites is how should they transition from year to year. Should members be deleted and the site start fresh with each new cohort? Should existing members be encouraged to move to a new network? Will members be mad if there posts, photos, friendships, etc. get deleted?

These are interesting and challenging questions. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Rachel --

Thanks for the reply.

Can I ask how (if) you will handle accepteds in this network? SocialEngine tells me that subnetworks/networks can't be "merged", but what's your understanding of the isolation-to-engagement range available for subnetworks.

My holy grail goal is to start with a fully isolated accepteds network in the spring, then open it to full integration with a whole-student-body network in the fall. By full isolation, I mean that the accepteds might not even know that a larger network exists. And by "full integration", I mean the works -- friending, commenting, forum/blog participation, groups, profile views, etc.

Any thoughts or wisdom? Thanks.

Cheers,

Paul
Paul,

Thanks for sharing. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on what the hook is for current students to join the SocialEngine network rather than just go to the traditional social networks (Facebook, MySpace, others). What additional functionality are you providing in the closed, school-specific social network (access to class schedules, functionality for classroom use, student / staff / facutly directory, access to professors)? As a user, why do I want to maintain a separate SocialEngine profile for school alongside my regular social networking account?

Also, do you upload all your current students into the SocialEngine network (essentially pre-populating it) or do they need to create a new profile?
Mark --

First, still with Ning here, and not SocialEngine.

Several parts to the "hook" answer, though I'm not yet sure that they make a compelling set:

CONTENT -- ...in the broadest sense. ESF everything - feeds, branding, layout, groups, people - whatever that means to participants. No limits to what we can internally feed into the venue.

INCLUSION -- Appealing to those who don't want to join an external network. There apparently are some who don't want to be part of Facebook, even with the new privacy settings, for various reasons, and we don't institutionally want to insist/expect that people join Facebook to get content and services.

EXCLUSION -- Closed to non-ESF participation, with the admin fully in our hands.

EMBEDDED SOCIAL 'PORTAL' ROLE -- I'm not even sure what this will mean yet, but I want a social front to replace our staticky "gateway" as the web front door for current students. The ground keeps shifting under the game of offering services, basic web and SN, so I find it hard to come clear on a best course of action for the next 'phase'. Also, I don't control what IT will develop, serve and support, so my options are limited.

As for pre-populating, I'd say not. I think we'd invite a list and leave it up to students, which is what we did/do for accepteds.

More thoughts on all welcome.

Cheers,

Paul
I'd definitely be curious to hear how it goes.

My guess is that unique content is going to be the big differentiator for you with the closed SUNY-ESF community, at least from a student perspective. That seems to be the one big thing that you can offer students that Facebook can not and will never be able to offer them.

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