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Today’s Note: KnowU is an Educational Social Learning Network

January 17, 2012

Today’s Note is about a post on Edudemic.com titled “KnowU: Harrison College’s Social Learning Network May Just Be The Future Of Education.” The post describes the KnowU application, a revolutionary web site enabling Harrison College students, teachers and staff to get the most out of their experience with Harrison.

According to the post, the web site helps connect students to a comprehensive support environment, not only technical, but human as well. The web site isn’t limited to strictly supporting the educational experience, but also creates an enhanced sense of community for the college, a facet of college life difficult to translate to the online education experience. According to the post, which was written by Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Dennis Trinkle,

We are leading the way at Harrison College with a new academic venture called “KnowU,” where online students learn in an interactive, graphic-rich environment that allows them to connect with one another in a social network setting. Our students enjoy the ability to import their personal Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

KnowU (@KnowU_) uses sophisticated analytical engines to suggest resources based on the students’ academic, personal and career needs, such as locating internships or alerting an advisor. It connects students to full 24/7 support as well, based on their preferences and situations. Online students at Harrison College’s KnowU benefit from a stronger sense of belonging to a community.

[italics are, in all cases, added by me to call out quotations from the post]

Trinkle’s piece also discusses the rationale for developing KnowU: “it is time to revolutionize online education. The current model at many colleges and universities mimics traditional on-campus education, where students pay tuition to study in professor-led classes that meet at specific times and last from eight to 11 weeks. This model has not translated well for online students. Text-driven websites that provide little or no graphics and limited interaction with faculty and fellow students are not the answer.

The web site, which can be found at knowu.harrison.edu , looks very well crafted and executed. It certainly adds elements of style and content that must appeal to today’s students. The site reflects an understanding of its audience and its mission to bridge formal education with a generation entrenched in digital and social media. As Trinkle notes in his post, “Higher education today is a dynamic competitive environment, and many students will be drawn to the promise and rich reward of virtual educational experiences such as KnowU.

The post itself is a reflection of the KnowU philosophy. With attractive graphical content, two embedded videos and screen captures from the KnowU site, the post offers generous insight into Harrison College and its vision for online learning. It also suggests that other social network providers may embrace its model: “KnowU, a private social network just for Harrison College, is an advanced social network that safely connects the school community. So is this the future of social networks? Will behemoths like Facebook go back to their roots and start offering walled gardens where only certain people can join? Facebook is already considering it, according to recent reports. Stay tuned.

This post will be of interest to those considering online education, or those interested in creative and innovative models for social networking or education. I recommend a look at the post and the KnowU site. Dr. Dennis Trinkle can be found on twitter as @dtrinkle.

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