Proposed Features of SOCL
SOCL will incorporate many features of traditional online social media platforms (e.g. Facebook or Myspace) while adding several features researched in the pilot study of socialPsych. Please also note that this list is subject to change.
Please keep in mind that an introductory video of socialPsych is available and will demonstrate a prototype version of SOCL with many of the features listed below.
Traditional Social Media Components
- Personal profiles. Each user of the system (faculty and students alike) will have a personal profile where users can create a representation of themselves to their classmates. Specific features in socialPsych (likely to be in SOCL as well): profile picture, personality profile, year in school, employment during school, major, favorite class, clubs/organizations, college activities, interests, favorite music, favorite films and television.
- Profile posts. Each user can post text or rich media to their own profile, which will be cross-listed in the Classmate Updates Feed.
- Classmate updates feed. Profile posts by all current classmates and instructors will appear in the updates feed, along with major posts by instructors in classroom discussion areas.
- Study groups. Students can create private study groups where they can discuss course topics privately, similar to the concept of Groups in Facebook.
- Direct messaging system. Users can directly message any other user of the system, privately.
- Privacy options. Each user of the system will be able to specify what information SOCL reveals about them from their profile (e.g. hiding their personality profile).
- Communication options. Each user will be able to specify how SOCL contacts them and how frequently - by e-mail, by text message, etc.
- Mobile access. Messages can be posted to SOCL via text message or e-mail after pairing the devices in SOCL.
- Search tools. Students and instructors can search for text in individual classroom discussion posts and status updates.
Classroom Interface Features
- Certification system. Involves gaming elements to increase student motivation. See link for more details.
- Mentoring system. Integrates the Certification System to automatically pair mentors with mentees. See link for more details.
- Protected discussion environment. Unlike classes with social elements run in Facebook, all conversations and discussions take place behind a password-protected barrier. No one without a valid student or instructor username/password combination can see any student or class interactions - the same level of protection available in most LMS (e.g. Moodle, WebCT).
- Classroom discussion area. Each class/school organization has a private discussion area associated with it. Students enrolled in those courses will be automatically enrolled in these discussion areas.
- Parallel discussion areas. Data from socialPsych indicated that students wanted separate areas for social and class-related discussion. To address this, each classroom discussion area will have filtering options - all posts, social posts, and academic posts. Students can also jump between instructor posts.
- Open community with protection. To encourage a sense of community, all classroom discussion areas will be visible by anyone in the institution. However, the author of any particular comment thread can specify that the thread is to be private, i.e. only visible to student currently enrolled in that course.
- Partial anonymization. Students can opt to represent themselves to other students in SOCL by either their school-registered name or by an anonymous nickname. Instructors, however, will still see the true identities of students in their classroom discussion areas.
Instructor Interface Features
- Instructor highlighting. Any time that an instructor posts in a course discussion area or makes a profile post, that post will be highlighted for any current student of that instructor.
- Classroom description and resources. An instructor can optionally attach a course description, syllabus, and other media resources to the course discussion area. Note that this is not intended to replace a full-featured LMS (e.g. Moodle, WebCT).
- Editorial control. Because classroom discussion areas might reflect upon the instructor they are associated with to some extent, instructors have the ability to delete inappropriate posts from their classroom discussion areas.
- TA Access. Teaching assistants can be designated by instructors so that others can gain editorial control in addition to the designated instructor to any particular course.
Administrator Interface Features
- Course designators. Administrators will be able to add new courses within their institution.
- Student override control. Administrators will be able to modify posting permissions of individual students in the event of system abuse.
- University/college student management system integration. Pending institutional approval, course enrollments can be updated automatically from pre-existing institutional resources (reducing administrative load).
- Manual student enrollment control. Administrators can enroll and unenroll students as needed, with mass-student functions to add students in blocks/groups.
- University branding. Administrators can set a logo and/or color scheme to tie SOCL to their institution.