Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Mass Communication and Media Arts


Spahr, Robert and Iyer, Narayanan


This project studies the implications of using social networking sites as a platform for student learning / collaboration and to enhance classroom experiences. The goal of this study is to illustrate how a customized socio-academic experience made available within academia, could positively impact the student’s learning, foster a culture of creative self-sufficiency and collaboration, while simultaneously cut down on the privacy issues that are found while using social networks that are available for public usage.

Adding to a critical analysis of studies about social networking patterns amongst students and faculty members in higher education, the research methodology for this study would also feature an analysis of our target user group (students and faculty members, school of MCMA, SIUC) and a competitive task analysis of the online learning tool; Desire2Learn and the group functionality in the social network; Facebook, both of which are extensively used within the college of MCMA to enhance classroom discussions.

The results from these studies have been used to design the user interface of a social-academic networking platform for the students belonging to the college of MCMA at SIUC. The paper also includes results from the usability test that was conducted among students pursuing degree programs at the college of MCMA in Southern Illinois University.

Findings from this study indicate that an online platform built for use within academia, incorporating the right concoction of features that suit the needs and gratifies the target consumers, could enhance student’s academic experience. The study also elucidates that this platform could possibly also help tackle some concerns related to social development, student disengagement and online privacy, which are otherwise predominant while using openly available social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter etc.