Swinburne Online has created an online campus for its students in less than eight months. The new social networking platform, Connect, will provide a space for students to engage beyond their digital classrooms.
Professor Kay Lipson, Swinburne Online Director of Strategy, said Connect is designed to support students in their studies and make it easier to build social connections.
“Connect is a virtual campus. Logging on is like walking onto any university campus, there are places to study, socialise and get involved in interest groups. The social network will support our students in building robust relationships and networking with fellow students.
“We know that learning happens both formally and informally and we already have digital classrooms where formal learning takes place; Connect is where informal learning takes place and where students have the opportunity to engage with one another on many different levels.”
The new platform allows students to create profiles, send private messages, follow people and posts, join and create groups and post updates.
Matt Parker, Swinburne Online General Manager of Information Technology and Student Operations, said up until now, Facebook has served as a space for students to socialise.
“Student activity on Facebook identified the need to operationalise Connect. Although a great tool for interacting, not all students are present or active on Facebook so we wanted to create a platform specifically so all our students could participate.
“Students played a big role in the development of this project. Their feedback enabled us to respond quickly to what was needed in order to provide them with a better service and experience.”
Connect is now part of Swinburne Online’s Student Portal, which was launched in June. By logging on, students have access to their digital classroom, Blackboard, student email, the Swinburne University of Technology Library and now a social network.
Once logged on students are able to manage their degree, pay fees and access services such as course planning, results, exam information and assignment assistance services.
“It became clear we needed to provide a place for our students to access everything they need to be organised. Our students are really exceptional at managing their studies, this just makes it that one bit easier,” Mr Parker said.
So far several social clubs and study groups have been set up by students including: Pregnant Mums & Mums with Newborns, QLD Education Students, Under 30s, Communication Design and Business Students.
“Most physical universities are built around a central meeting place. With Connect we have replicated this to create a hub for our students to talk about life, interests, goals and assessments – it is the heart of Swinburne Online,” Professor Lipson said.