Khalifa University announced today that one of its Masters in Engineering by Research students who is working for EBTIC, Etisalat BT Innovation Centre, Ahmed Al Dhanhani, has developed a social networking site targeted towards education. The system that is part of EBTIC’s Intelligent Campus, iCampus, initiative is called ELSE, EBTIC’s Learning and Social Environment.
The site, which EBTIC developed in collaboration with Khalifa University, seeks to leverage social networking to facilitate learning by connecting students and faculty in an informal learning environment outside of the classroom. The hope is that this will foster collaboration between like-minded students and faculty.
“Research has shown that university students learn more when they interact in groups outside of the classroom.” says Ahmed. “Therefore, we are exploiting advances in social networking and ICT technologies to encourage and enhance such collaboration for the benefit of education and more importantly learning”.
ELSE, will provide users with familiar social networking features, enabling students and faculty to post statuses, which can be commented on by people in their network, create groups and share media. In addition to this, there will be specialised social/learning domains, such as a student only, and faculty only domain. These domains will allow the different communities a degree of independence and privacy.
The site will also have a “Recommender” section, which will suggest content that might be of interest to the user, or collaborators, based on the user’s personal profile.
“The opportunity here is to leverage advancements in online social networking and intelligent systems to create a proactive, adaptive and accurate interest-based social network learning platform where learning is achieved and enhanced through both push and pull methods anytime anywhere. This will enhance the learning experience and the construction of knowledge through collaboration. The accuracy of the system is an area that EBTIC aims to continue to research and improve” says Professor Nader Azarmi, Director of EBTIC.
Ahmed is working to attract students at Khalifa University’s Abu Dhabi campus over the next couple of weeks in order to carry out a field study of the system in a real campus environment.
“After we’ve established the site in Abu Dhabi, we will be opening the site up to students at our Sharjah campus,” says Ahmed. “After that we’d like to open it up to students at other universities in the UAE, and eventually the region. We have big future plans for ELSE.”