Facebook is paying attention to college students again. And not just because the fall semester is about to start.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that the network was originally designed just for undergrads (Harvard kids first, then other Ivy Leaguers, and eventually even the unwashed masses at state schools). That’s because of big moves — like opening up the network to anyone with an e-mail address — and little ones — removing course listings from user profiles. But over the last couple of weeks, the network has been reaching out to its core audience again. This time its via college-focused apps it is supporting, either directly or indirectly, and which have been generating a lot of buzz.
- CourseFeed: This app, which creates a page for each of your courses, won a grant from the Facebook-administed fbFund. It lets students use the page to share notes with classmates, and link up to their schools’ online content system (where professors will post assignments, notes, announcements, etc.) with the CourseFeed page.
- PodClass: Another fbFund winner. This app allows people to record a class and post it on Facebook. The courses can be posted by anybody, but students and professors could be a big market for this app if it takes off.
- Schools: Inigral, the company that makes this app, is approaching colleges to get them to integrate their student data to into Facebook profiles — while getting the schools to pay a few bucks per student for the right to do it. This app was funded by the Founders Fund, which is one of the VC firms that is backing the fbFund, and home of former Facebook exec Sean Parker.
Facebook still needs to work at growing its international audience, while handling an influx of mainstream users that are just coming to the social network for the first time. But college students remain the network’s core. If it doesn’t do a good job of engaging them, someone else will.
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