Way back in 2004, Facebook launched. It was for students and it centered around schools. In 2006, they opened up to everyone else and the school aspect moved out of the center.
Facebook has crossed the 100 million users mark. That's big. For comparison purposes, MySpace hit the 100 million mark in 2006 after 3 years. It took Facebook 4 and a half years.
At Passaic County Community College, MySpace is bigger with students than Facebook. (There's a good study waiting out there on why students choose one over the other, or use some other social network like Orkut.) MySpace offers you a kind of web site with tools and connections and lots of freedom to hack the design (hence the large number of really ugly sites). In Facebook, you always know you are in Facebook. There are lots of applications to add, lots of ways to connect. You can pull in your outside blog, but you can't have a blog there (as you can with MySpace).
Facebook has a new program called Schools being tested that literally connects to their school. It allows students to view their course calendar. Drop/adds show up in Facebook as soon as the registrarâ€™s office reports them. Schools can also include ways for student groups to have pages within Schools where students can interact. The Schools program was developed by Inigral and it is being tested at Abilene Christian University.
The Facebook application is managed by the institution not the students and is plugged in to the school's database giving educational institutions more control over how and what information is shared.
Students who opt in to the application can view their entire course calendar within Facebook and if they add or drop a course at the registrar's office those changes will be immediately reflected in the Schools application.
Does Facebook want to reconnect to its base (the political season has me thinking in these terms) of students? Or, is Facebook looking to become an enterprise level higher education software package? Would the latter actually make them so mainstream that they would lose any cool factor that students find appealing?