Microsoft launched a new social network program So.cl last week. But unlike Facebook, or Twitter, this program is geared towards students and academics as a way of helping students learn.
The program originated at Microsoft’s FUSE labs so that students will have the ability to network with peers, share useful information quickly, and build their own pages that collect information from both inside and outside the classroom. In other words, this will extend the classroom, in a sense, transforming the web and social networks putting the students into the new virtual classroom.
The parameters for the “new” classroom are not limited to tech students, but include humanities and science courses. Enough variation exits so that the “social” aspect allows students to expand their reach beyond the courses or majors they are pursuing. So if a student is studying history but is interested in how and when bio-chemistry became a major player in disease control, they can find people in that bio-chemical area with similar interest.
Art, music, quantum mechanics, geography, and other specialties can bring students together to see how the different disciplines work and share interests and address issues that may not appear in the actual classroom. That is what learning is really all about.
So, So.cl is not about posting incidents on Facebook, or Twitter, but about sharing the student experience with others to advance a student’s education. In this sense, So.cl will not compete with Facebook; it is not that type of social network program. Where people on Facebook may discuss what they will be doing on the weekend, the intent of SO.cl is to discuss academic topics. If you want to talk about the “Hunger Games,” fine do it on Facebook. If you want to discuss the ethics of “Hunger Games” and how it breaches the Kantian Categorical Imperative, that is what SO.co is supposed to do.