Two weeks ago, I learned about Purdue’s new social network for academic organization called Mixable (http://www.purdue.edu/mixable), and even met the creator and project manager, Kyle Bowen. Mr. Bowen informed me that Mixable was created to allow students to academically collaborate with each other more easily. With it, Purdue students need simply sign in with their career account and will then have the ability to “connect” with their classes, giving them access to user discussions, files, and resources posted by other students.
Mixable also has the feature to sync your other social network accounts to your Mixable account. Students can sign into Dropbox and gain access to the storage that it has to offer, to upload files and share them with others. With Facebook and Twitter accounts synced, students will not only be able to share items posted on Mixable onto their profile, but also be able to easily find their classmates on Facebook/Twitter to add as friends if desired.
When talking with Mr. Bowen, I was most interested in his possible goal to replace Purdue’s current course management system, Blackboard. He expressed his distaste for Blackboard because of its many bugs, but what seemed to dissatisfy him most was how difficult it was for teachers and students to learn how to use. Personally, I haven’t experienced many problems with Blackboard, however, my classes rarely require it. I’ve noted the trial-and-error way some teachers seem to learn its capabilities, and I agree with Mr. Bowen – That shouldn’t be happening. Management systems should be intuitive and accomplishing a task should be simple.
Qualms I have with Blackboard also include its boring layout, the unnecessary extensive menu bar/categories, and most of all, its inability to be accessed on my iPhone/iPad. Mr. Bowen understands that students are becoming more mobile, and I’m hoping he exploits that trend to his fullest. If another service like Mixable is available, I imagine Blackboard will fall behind because of its lack of mobility. But then again, it’s all up to what teachers and students ultimately decide on using. If the Purdue public assumes Blackboard is the standard, perhaps it will stick around for longer than necessary.
As with any social network site, however, Mixable will only be as great as the number of faculty and students using it. With only a little more than 1200 members, I was a little worried whether or not it would catch on, but Mr. Bowen told me that Mixable has yet to be marketed. He and his team wanted to make sure that their product worked and could handle public use before marketing it. A wise choice? Or with this lack of early publicity hurt its growth?
Regardless, I’m looking forward to the day Mixable will be a common resource for Purdue students, if it achieves that point. Learn more about Purdue Mixable at http://www.itap.purdue.edu/studio/mixable/