Microsoft Research’s FUSE Labs has launched a new social network designed with students in mind. The experimental site is called So.cl (pronounced “social”) and is initially being made available to students at the University of Washington, Syracuse University and New York University.
The learning and information-gathering tool is said to give students the ability to network with peers, share useful information quickly and build their own pages using information from inside and outside of the classroom. More specifically, the site was designed for students that are studying social media to expand their learning experience and “rethink how they learn and communicate.” Microsoft is essentially billing this as the new online classroom.
As for the feature set, think of So.cl as a stripped down version of Facebook. In fact, it’s actually built on top of Facebook. Users are asked to sign in using their Facebook account. Once in, users can post photos, text, video and more. Students can create communities around educational goals, allowing them to collaborate with like-minded individuals and even create their own social tools customized for their community.
Search is a key element of So.cl and as you would expect, it’s powered by Bing. Query results can be shared with other users which would likely make the most popular search items go viral.
Microsoft expects to open the site up to more schools in the near future as the service is fine-tuned and moves past the experimental phase.