Facebook Returns to Its College Roots With 'Groups for Schools'

Posted by Liz Dwyer

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Remember when only students with an .edu email address could have a Facebook account? Now that your mom spends all her spare time playing Words With Friends and Farmville through Facebook, it's hard to recall that it used to be the place to connect with your college community.

But now the social media behemoth is getting back to its campus roots with the launch of Groups for Schools, exclusive groups that are open only to students and faculty at specific colleges.

Why is Facebook trying to re-establish itself as an educational resource for the college crowd? Over the past few years colleges have stepped up their presence on Facebook, and we've even seen the creation of Facebook-specific education apps designed to make it easier for students to study together. And many experts predicted Google+ to become a hub of education activity because professors and students could interact on the platform without having to see personal photos and posts.

Yet despite some promising initial efforts by professors holding office hours through the Hangouts feature on Google+, educators aren't using it on a wide scale (mostly because no one really uses Google+ at all). That could change as Google integrates Google+ across all its platforms, so it makes sense for Facebook to sell Groups for Schools as the easiest place to share lecture notes, assignments, and class schedules, and connect with class, dorm, and club groups.

It remains to be seen whether students used to simply tagging each other in photos and clicking "like" on status updates will make the extra effort to use Groups for Schools for educational purposes. Considering how cluttered most people's news feeds are these days, it probably all depends on how easy they make it to ignore those endless Farmville requests from mom.