Monash University has developed its own social media platform in a bid to boost student engagement and start fostering networks before students ever step foot on campus.
The aMigo platform provides students about to join the university with an opportunity to connect with other students with similar interests and in similar regions before their actual orientation day.
Using the React framework and leveraging a number of Google Cloud Platform service offerings like Firebase SDK, the university was able to implement useful features including:
- Prioritising best trending post to appear on top of threads for visibility and traction,
- Multimedia support allowing students to express themselves in the medium they like most, including video,
- An administrative ‘bulk upload’ feature allowing the uni to import large lists of users onto the platform, limiting the time spent on administering users.
The app also has an ‘aMigo map’ showing users’ locations from around the world (to within 1km), which was aimed at helping international students and travelling students to connect during the potentially stressful and lonely time away from campus.
Unlike other platforms implemented at universities, aMigo allows for students to build communities around interests other than study or official clubs and societies - people with an interest in AFL, for example, can build relationships external to university activities.
Aside from bridging the social gap, aMigo provides another avenue for students and the university to contact each other prior to orientation without playing constant phone tag or relying on people fresh out of high school to keep an eye on their email.
A proof of concept that ran in the second semester of 2018 showed that the business case for platform was sound, with students who participated forming new connections prior to the start of classes while experience less anxiety about commencing their degree.
The end is result is more than just a feel-good nod to community spirit - students with strong social support who engage with activities on campus have been shown to achieve better outcomes from their time at university.
This project was a finalist in the education category of the iTnews Benchmark Awards 2020.