BOSTON, Mass.--Blackboard, an educational software company, announced a social-networking site for students and professors on Tuesday at its BbWorld '07 conference.
Scholar, the social bookmarking site that Blackboard launched in January, works much like Delicious in that people can see links relevant to articles based on their tagged interests. Scholar is centrally hosted by Blackboard and integrates with any schools or users who subscribe to Blackboard applications.
The company is now expanding Scholar into a social-networking site where researchers of even the most obscure topics can find each other.
As in other social-networking sites, there are different levels of "friendship."
Professors, for example, may not want all their students to have access to their personal profile as friends, but can opt to allow them to be fans and follow their research. The same goes for students or graduate researchers who want to follow the research of others in their field.
Profiles can be set so that bookmarks and other updating features can be seen by the public, Scholar account holders only, fans or only friends. Scholar also allows you to see who's tracking your profile activity.
The site, which already offers RSS feed features, will now allow RSS feeds or links to be filtered directly to a Blackboard course site homepage. Students can tag bookmarks they find via Scholar to be sent to their course site, and faculty can send entire bookmark collections for one course.
The new social-networking aspect, which is part of Blackboard's Beyond Initiative to offer more Web 2.0 tools, will go live in time for back-to-school.
The site and its features will be open to all Blackboard users, who are then allowed to maintain their Scholar account even after they graduate or take a new job at another university.