It is hard not to find a webpage or social media site that has been visualized as a network. These pictures are evocative and emblematic of the turn towards social networks in most areas of the Internet. Yet, the visual social network has still not been used to its full potential as an interactive tool. College Connect is a webpage that visualizes social networks automatically from Facebook and puts them to work for the user. The target market of the application is prospective college students as well as those just entering college or university. The site highlights Facebook friends who have been to university (and have shared that information on Facebook) and offers a series of predefined questions based on the experience of college students (and lower income students in particular).
The College Connect website was put together with funding from the College Knowledge Challenge, an initiative of King Center Charter School with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The site is one of twenty initiatives funded to help lower income students find better and more successful routes to university.
College Connect is a collaboration between Bernie Hogan at the OII, Nicole Ellison at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, and Christine Greenhow in Michigan State University’s Department of Education. Steve McKellar of Domakesaythings in London is the lead developer. The “CollegeConnect.us” application is an extension of Bernie’s social network visualization software, NameGenWeb, developed in house at the Oxford Internet Institute with help from Joshua Melville and Scott Hale.
This work has been supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation