23
Jun
08

A social network for freshmen at UIS

One of the projects I have been working on in the past three months was aimed at bridging the gap between MySpace and Facebook. It is often considered that MySpace is what high schoolers use and Facebook is what college students use. In every group, there are early adopters and there are late adopters and that leaves a gap between graduation and the start of their freshman year in college.

At UIS, we have summer orientation days, usually about 5 or 6. Unfortunately, because we have so many, the incoming class doesn’t get to meet each other until they arrive. Now I know at larger schools most students don’t meet everyone in their class, but at UIS, we are that right size so that the students do have that opportunity. We are also pretty flexible when it comes to assigning housing. It’s great if you already know who you are rooming with, however many students have fears of getting a roommate that is not compatible. And for these people, there usually isn’t a good way to get to know their classmates.

I really wanted a way for the students to be able to get connected prior to their arrival here in the fall. I wanted them to be able to build friendships with each other so that when they did arrive, they wouldn’t feel as lost perhaps. They can post on the forums and customize their own pages (though not to the extent of MySpace – thank goodness). They can also post photos and videos of themselves or of things they like or find funny. I really turned all the controls off and am letting them do what they want with it. It’s really for them, not for the university, so unless there is something really offensive, I’m not going to intervene. And the benefit to being only 23 is that I can get away with telling them something without it seeming like it’s coming from an authority figure.

blue.i.s. main

So anyway, for some stats. I designed some cards to hand out to them during their orientation day. I hand delivered one to each of the 59 students in attendance at 11 a.m. (right after the traditional circle video). That afternoon, I went back to my office and emailed everyone their personal invite to their new UIS email account. This not only insures that their invite reaches them, but also gets them into the habit of checking their UIS email account early. Just as the card promises, by the time they get home, they will have a personal invite in their email. By 11:15 p.m. on Friday we had 10 students join (10 of 59 = 17%). On Saturday, another 8 joined (18 of 59 = 30.5%). And on Father’s Day we had another 5 join (23 of 59 = 39%). At the writing of this post there are 29 members (49%). Not to shabby numbers if you ask me.

blue.i.s. members

They have also uploaded about 50 photos (2 per person/avg) and have been posting questions. I have uploaded the others from my Flickr account. The site has three moderators including myself. Other than Courtney and myself, any other moderators will be students (the Admissions office Student Ambassadors).

blue.i.s. photos

blue.i.s. forum

These are the things that we, as professionals working for the university, like to see.

blue.i.s.

And then this conversation.

blue.i.s.

blue.i.s.

blue.i.s.

blue.i.s.

And things like this. It’s like we paid him!

blue.i.s.

So far, they are using it for what it’s meant for. I hope that the rest of the students from the first session join at some point, and I look forward to continued success in the remaining orientations. Our next orientation day is on Monday the 23rd. So by the end of that week, I’ll be able to present some more data.

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8 Responses to “A social network for freshmen at UIS”


  1. June 23, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Very, very interesting data. Thanks for sharing!

  2. June 23, 2008 at 10:28 am

    That’s pretty cool. Would have been a great tool when I was at UIS.

  3. June 23, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Good to see the Ning network at use. I think WordPress/Ning are killer. I just wish I could use them, lol.

  4. June 23, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Little secret here… We’re in development phases of the same kind of thing here. We’re opening it up to admitted students, but I think it should be interesting…

  5. June 23, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Rock on! Awesome, awesome, stuff! Thanks for sharing.

  6. 6 Ron
    June 26, 2008 at 11:42 am

    This is really great. Thanks for sharing this. Well done.

  7. May 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    so, are you guys going to keep Ning going now that you have to pay for it? interested….


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