New Social Networking App Aims to Improve College Experience for UTA Students
By Susan Schrock
Posted on January 20, 2017, January 20, 2017

New Social Networking App

At the same that researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington are studying the role social networks play in academic performance, a group of students has developed a free mobile app they say will connect UTA students and help them have a better college experience.

The newly launched UTA Connection app allows students who create profiles to virtually meet other people in their classes and see if they share common interests, said Oluwatoba Toye-Abdul, one of the app developers. The app, available only to students enrolled there, also provides users with tools such as academic and events calendars, information on student discounts and the ability to chat with fellow classmates about assignments, study sessions and other topics.

"The goal is to bring the entire college campus to the fingertips of the student. We are trying to bring the whole campus to your mobile device," Toye-Abdul said.

Social networks allow students to connect, collaborate and share. But does that connectivity keep students motivated to stay in class and get good grades?

To find out, researchers at UTA are working with Boeing, NASA and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to better understand the role social networks play in completion rates and academic performance of students taking online courses.

"Learning online is exploding in popularity, as is the research evaluating how to best learn with technology," said George Siemens, executive director of UTA's Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge (LINK) Research Lab and principal investigator of the study. "This project with LINK Research Lab will examine how social networks contribute to student success."

Click here to learn more about UTA's research project.

UTA is a Carnegie Research-1 "highest research activity" institution and has a projected global enrollment of nearly 57,000, which includes an increasing number of online students.

UTA student Nitesh Panchal and former UTA students Jonathan Patterson and Alonzo Rios were also involved in developing the app. Toye-Abdul said he believes UTA Connection will help connect Mavericks with potential friends, study partners and campus activities better than social media platforms with a broader audience.

"Facebook is full of outside noise. It's difficult to have that exclusivity, that specialness. We thought we would create something better than Facebook that is tailored specifically for UTA students."

Toye-Abdul, who wants to eventually own an app company, dreams that the UTA app will be a success not only at his college but that it can be adapted and marketed for other colleges as well.

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