University connects through Facebook

In addition to becoming ‘friends’ with people from around the world, adding personal videos and photos to their pages and even throwing livestock at people, Facebook users can now access University news from campus blogs, Campus Update and The BG News through a new Facebook application: The BGSU RSS Reader.

Designed by Anthony Fontana, the learning technologies consultant for the Office of the CIO, and written by Chris Wammes, the Web applications developer for Information Technology Services, the Facebook application was created to improve communication on campus by making campus news available where the University community spends time online, Fontana said.

‘If someone is a Facebook user, this application allows [him or her] to stay within Facebook and see all of the top headlines from BGSU blogs, The BG News, and Campus Update,’ he said. ‘It’s the one-stop-shop for any sort of news and blog-related news coming ‘hellip; [from] any of the centers or departments that are blogging on campus.’

The application consists of a box of links to Campus Update, the University Strategic Plan, and other University RSS feeds.

The links are under the following headings: BG News, Business, Education, Sports, and Technology. Application users can place checkmarks next to the feed links they want posted on their pages.

Fontana said University community members can also submit feeds to his e-mail address to be reviewed and possibly added to the BGSU RSS Reader. He said submissions can include RSS feeds from campus departments and student organizations, as well as informational blogs about campus activities.

Fontana said the RSS feed from the University’s Academic Calendar may also be added to the application in the future.

In addition to supporting the development of the Facebook application, CIO and ITS decided to make the application’s code available to people in the University and Facebook community, Fontana said.

‘We would like to see this benefit … go to BG faculty, staff or students who are interested in developing their own similar application,’ Fontana said.

Fontana explained students could use the code to ‘modify the application for a student project or for business,’ or create applications that group feeds they like.

In order to receive the code, Fontana said interested students and faculty members should submit requests to ITS.

Fontana said he has received positive feedback about the application from faculty Facebook users and members of the Web 2.0 Pedagogy and Scholarship Learning Community, which is sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning.’

‘It’s been very well received by a lot of the faculty that I’ve heard from that are Facebook users,’ he said. ‘When I showed it to the Web 2.0 Learning Community … the response from the faculty, staff and grad students in that community was really good.’

Third-year doctoral student Precious Yamaguchi said she likes the application. She said she thinks students could learn more about events and areas of study in other departments if more University departments submitted feeds to the Facebook application.

‘I think [the application] will actually create more interactive awareness about what’s going on on campus,’ Yamaguchi said.

Fred Connor, the senior director of marketing for the Office of Marketing and Communications, had good things to say as well. ‘I thought it was fabulous idea,’ Connor said.

‘I am hoping it will help alums, current students [and] prospective students essentially be able to connect with the University better.’