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IU Professor Launches Pioneering Social Network for Classrooms

Ali Jafari
Ali Jafari

Published:

September 22, 2011

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If it were an idea for a movie, it might be pitched as the social network meets the global classroom. And should all go according to script, this new online learning environment would soon be showcased at a college, university and high school near you.

The latest brainchild of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis computer scientist and serial entrepreneur Ali Jafari, CourseNetworking (CN) is a free, online platform that connects teachers and students from around the world based on shared interests and class subjects. It combines the social component of popular networks such as Facebook and Twitter with similar functionality of existing learning management systems (LMS) used at many colleges and universities.

Unlike existing learning systems, though, which typically limit access to members of a single course, CN creates an active, large-scale learning environment that is completely open to any user, nationally and internationally.

Owned in part by IU, and headquartered in Indianapolis, the CN Company will invite 40 academic institutions -- including 20 from the U.S. and 20 from other countries around the world -- to invest in and become equity owners in the company and to intellectually contribute to refining the software environment. CN will offer its platform to all users free of charge, Jafari said, and it will generate revenue through targeted advertising that is relevant and of benefit to the system's users. Advertising might include information about degree programs at educational institutions and upcoming conferences and events.

After two decades of introducing several highly successful learning management systems -- including ANGEL Learning, created with an initial $130,000 IU investment and purchased in 2009 by Blackboard Inc. for $100 million -- Jafari believes the new venture has the potential for high success both as a return on investment and the creation of a totally new learning model in today's social networking world.

"Many students and teachers have tried to leverage existing social networks for learning with little success," said Jafari, a professor of computer and information technology and director of the CyberLab at the IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology. "Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are designed for much broader socializing and information sharing, whereas the sole focus of CN is improved learning through learning collaboration and networking. All functionality within the system is designed with that goal in mind and strives to make shared learning as easy as possible for all its users."

For more info: http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/19688.htmlro .

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